First and foremost, I think the whole understanding of eating disorders in the first place is warped…but I can’t blame anyone, because how do you know if you haven’t been through it yourself. This is why i am writing, to help the medical/ social world understand what is required for recovery (IN MY OPINION).
1). It’s not the food that’s the biggest issue– There’s this myth that people with an ED hate food. Truth is we love it, and that’s the problem. Recovery is often focused on overcoming fear foods and understanding that food is good for us, but that’s not the key issue. The key issue is gaining weight…that’s where the real fear lies. That’s what got us into this mess in the first place, the way we view our bodies. So this is where the real support needs to come in. Gaining weight will be one of the most difficult parts of recovery for these individuals and therefore support should be upped at this point of recovery. Just because someone may be hitting their weight targets, it doesn’t mean they are recovered yet. This is a mental disorder, not a physical one.
Also…what about when an ED sufferer falls pregnant? Whether you are recovered or not, this is a triggering time…seeing your body change, gaining weight fast and experiencing changes in cravings. Support should be offered from GP’s the here.❤️
2). Therapy should be centred around learning to love yourself- let’s be honest…the problem isn’t with food, it’s with how the individual see’s their self. The problem lies with us, nothing else. An individual with an ED won’t judge what you eat, or how much you weigh, in fact, they probably think most people are beautiful…but they can’t see that in themselves. Why? Because they feel they have different rules to the rest of the world. No one else has to be perfect, but us lot with the ED…we do. We have to be perfect, we don’t deserve to eat like you. BUT WHY? Because it’s all to do with how we perceive ourselves. Therapy should be centre around us learning to love ourselves, and understanding that we don’t have to meet these standards…we can be imperfect too.
3). Patients should not be isolated (together)- If you’ve ever watched a prison programme or know of the life there…you’ll know that most tricks and prison like behaviour is learned from other prisoners. Most people end up worse than when they first went in.
Similar to this…If you’re an alcoholic and you surround yourself with alcoholics, you’re probably going to want to drink…and you’re probably going to be led into trouble. To me, this is similar to ED wards.
Yes you can encourage each other but this disorder can be mean, it can turn you into a liar, and turn you into an addict. You’ll end up speaking all day about food, restriction, and constantly hearing stories of how to avoid meals, how to lose weight fast, and the trauma of being surrounded by ill individuals like you, can make things a lot worse.
Home comforts are everything. It’s nice to be reminded that you are normal. Just because an individual may be suffering, it doesn’t mean they should be dehumanised….into a prisoner/ a patient. It’s important the individual is comfortable, with family, friends and with people who will only aid recovery. Don’t isolate us.
4). Teach us long term survival mechanisms– Sometimes, especially with eating disorders like anorexia, recovery is focused on the individual becoming healthy and being deemed well enough to carry on normal life….but the bigger picture is often forgot about. What we need is tools that we can use for the rest of our life. Eating disorders can be triggered at different parts in an individuals life…we need to know how to cope with change in the future, how to cope with life when we lose control, and how to deal with hurdles we haven’t learnt how to face yet. Cognitive behavioural therapy is a great way to help an individual learn how to deal with situations themselves. Unfortunately ED recovery is for life…it’s something we have to keep on top of, especially when we might be triggered in the future.
Like I say, all of this is in my opinion and in no way fact. But this topic is something I am so passionate about and I’d like my voice to be heard one day. Thanks so much for reading, and If you are struggling with an eating disorder or any type of mental stress, please don’t hesitate to ask for help. You’ve got this💪🏻