Eating disorders, much like substance abuse, thrive on secrets. Purging, food rituals, and binging all are considered socially unacceptable by the sufferer and are kept away from most or all loved ones and friends. The amount of energy used to maintain those secrets is immense and helps create an emotional distance from others. Simply put, an eating disorder wants you to make a choice between your symptoms and the life and people you once knew – the eating disorder demands complete control. At times it’s hard to know where the human being ends and the disorder begins. The beginning of the fight to recover is understanding that you are more than the sum of your symptoms. You are not the eating disorder, and the eating disorder is not you. This understanding allows the patient to fight the disease rather than feeling as though they ARE the disease. The fight is out there waiting for you, and the reward is having your life back.
Archive for the ‘Eating Disorders’ Category
Hardly a day goes by without someone asking me if they or someone they love has an eating disorder. Usually they will rattle off a list of symptoms and want to know if that meets criteria for a diagnosis. It’s usually at this point that I bring up Sigmund Freud’s psycho-economic theory. This theory states that everyone has a certain amount of psychic energy or mental energy, and the more energy that is channeled into unhealthy behaviors or mental illness, the less that is left for healthier endeavors. Basically, what I’m asking is how much of your or your loved one’s day to day living is effected by thoughts of eating, food, calories, excessive exercise, and what the scale says. If the answer is a lot or too much then I would say this is someone who needs help. I believe that when you look at symptoms from this perspective it cuts through the routine rationalizations (I’m just small framed, I eat plenty, I have a fast or slow metabolism, etc) and gets to the heart of the matter, which is the overall toll on a person’s wellbeing.
It seems like most articles written about eating disorders deal with the warning signs to look for in a friend or loved one. However, just as important as recognizing the symptoms is how to express your concern. To best understand how to approach a person who may be suffering for anorexia, bulimia, or compulsive overeating, it is important to understand the nature of the disorder. Continue reading “How to approach someone you suspect of an eating disorder” »