Understanding Eating Disorders (ED) and Recovery

Recovery is LOVE AND CARE for the mind, body and soul!
Recovery is LOVE AND CARE for the mind, body and soul!

A Quick Vocabulary Lesson

Binge Eating Disorder:

Binge eating disorder is defined as recurring episodes of eating significantly more food in a short period of time than most people would eat under similar circumstances, with episodes marked by feelings of lack of control. Someone with binge eating disorder may eat too quickly, even when he or she is not hungry. The person may have feelings of guilt, embarrassment, or disgust and may binge eat alone to hide the behavior. This disorder is associated with marked distress and occurs, on average, at least once a week over three months. While overeating is a challenge for many Americans, recurrent binge eating is much less common, far more severe, and is associated with significant physical and psychological problems.

Anorexia Nervosa:

Primarily affects, but is not restricted to, adolescent girls and young women, is characterized by distorted body image and excessive dieting that leads to severe weight loss with a pathological fear of becoming fat. Behaviors used include but are not restricted to, body checking, weight loss and restricted calorie intake.

Bulimia Nervosa:

Characterized by frequent episodes of binge eating followed by inappropriate behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, forced elimination, and excessive exercise (also referred to as purging behaviors) at least once a week to avoid weight gain.

Behaviors:

The word behavior is commonly used for the actions and patterns used within eating disorders. For example, binging, purging, restriction, compulsive exercising, body checking, etc.

An Explanation 

As I’ve mentioned before, recovery is a beautiful disaster, and before it gets better it gets worse! Let me explain it in a way that my therapist explained it to me, and the way I explained it to my family.

Here is how I look at it, there are three “musts,” “shoulds,” and “have-to’s” in life; in order to stay alive, an individual “has to” or “must” eat, sleep, and eliminate. If an individual finds a compulsive comfort in any of those three “musts” they most likely have some sort of disorder. For instance, I found compulsive comfort in eating, not eating, and elimination, in that they consumed me. Therefore, during recovery I had to find things that could replace those compulsive comforts, such as, meditation, essential oils, and the rest of my now extensive self-care routine (which I will outline throughout my posts). In the beginning of recovery (the first 6 months to 12 months) I had such a hard time giving up my disorder, or those compulsive comforts, I missed it…yes I know that sounds wrong, but I did, I missed the feeling of hunger, I missed using my compulsive unhealthy behaviors. With the help of my therapeutic care team, Sean, family, friends, hard work and dedication I finally moved past the “hard” part of recovery. This was so incredibly hard, disastrous at times, and painful, but oh my goodness was it worth it! Think of it this way…

Lets say that you are a child, and you are “addicted” to playing with your Gameboy. Your mother starts to notice that your Gameboy usage is becoming a major distraction, and asks you to give up your favorite game, the one that you always lose, the one that you are always trying to beat, the one that tortures you, but you still LOVE it! You decide, as the stubborn and determined young individual that you are, that you want to quit the game on your own terms, but this only causes for further distress. As the days go by, you become more obsessed, more consumed by the game than ever, because you know that you have to give it up, therefore you want to get all of the losing, self –Induced torture, and comfort from the game out of your system, before you truly give it up forever. Therefore, it gets much harder before it gets easier, but once you decide to give up that consuming comfort, you finally, with help from your parents and friends, decide to give up the game for good, and then you start to notice how much extra time you have to do other things! You have more time to focus on your friends, family, school and other important/healthy life factors.

Yes, I am comparing my eating disorder to a Gameboy game…. but it makes a bit more sense right? If not, think about breaking up with an abusive boyfriend/girlfriend, it gets harder before it gets easier, and an eating disorder is much like an abusive boyfriend/girlfriend. In fact I named my eating disorder ED, he was my abusive boyfriend, and my gosh was he hard to break up with…but I did it! It is important to keep in mind that I did not do this alone, I did this with so much help and an enormous amount of support; albeit clinical/professional support, emotional support, and personal support (SELF CARE, SELF CARE, SELF CARE)! With that being said, clinical/professional support is incredibly important, actually crucial and necessary within the recovery processes. This blog, friends, family, self help books are helpful, but WILL NOT AND CANNOT fully pull you out of your eating disorder, and that is the harsh but beautiful truth!

Self Disclosure

I am currently a graduate student  earning my Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling to eventually earn my license as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Please also note, that within the entirety of this blog I am purely speaking as a young woman, a girl boss, an ED warrior, and self-care blogger.

Outside Resources

National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA)

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD)

Eating Disorder Hope

Screening for Depression

Stop Bullying

TedX – Glennon Doyle Melton

  • Glennon Doyle Melton is the author of the New York Times Bestseller, CARRY ON, WARRIOR, founder of http://www.momastery.com (Links to an external site.), and creator of http://www.monkeeseemonkeedo.org (Links to an external site.). Glennon believes that life is equal parts beautiful and brutal, and writes about the “brutiful” she finds in marriage, motherhood, faith, addiction and recovery. Glennon unleashes her wit, courage and irreverence to call us to accept ourselves exactly as we are today, but also incidentally inspires us to live bolder, more meaningful lives for others.

Myth Busters:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/news/science-news/2014/9-eating-disorders-myths-busted.shtml

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtml