Although many turn to eating disordered behaviors as a way to control themselves, the disorder will ultimately get out of control. Eating disorders in any shape or form are potentially deadly, regardless of whether or not you lose, or gain, a substantial amount of weight. And even if your life is not in immediate danger, it's debatable if you can even consider living with an eating disorder as being truly "alive." If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, please get help now, before it is too late.
Recovery isn't easy
What make eating disorders so complicated is that, unlike most psychological disorders, they often need consideration of both physical and mental health issues during treatment. Recovery from any eating disorder involves more than just gaining or losing weight, or stopping maladaptive behaviors. Telling someone to "just eat," or physically restraining them from binge-eating, purging, or exercising might work for a while, but it is only temporary. Serious work must be done on the "issues" that the eating disordered patient is faced with. A person must also learn more positive coping mechanisms to replace the eating disorder.
As someone who is currently trying to recover from an eating disorder, I can tell you that it is a difficult battle, though not an impossible one. It is important to remember that what's most important in life, and even in skating, is your health and happiness... not what the number on the scale says.
One of the women I met through an eating disorders program actually took a hammer to her scale when she got home, and apparently had a glorious time of it. She found out that the entire basis of how the scale reads your weight is determined by... two tiny springs. Ask yourself if you really want a little spring to dictate how you live your life. I know I don't.
Where to go
There are many different ways to go about recovery. Usually it takes a combination of one or more methods to truly get better.
If you have any questions about any of these methods of treatment (other than residential care, as I have no experience with that), please feel free to e-mail me. I am more than happy to share my experiences, especially if doing so can assuade someone's fears about taking that "leap of faith" into recovery.
- Therapy is a definite must. Having a one-on-one therapist can be extremely helpful in getting at the underlying issues; the things which "caused" the eating disorder in the first place. Sometimes it is just individual with the eating disorder who attends therapy, but family sessions are probably a good idea as well. If you cannot afford an outside therapist, your school (especially colleges and universities) may offer free or low-cost counseling.
- Psychiatrists, or pdocs as they are sometimes called, can prescribe medication to treat underlying depression or anxiety. The meds won't do all the work for you, but they can be a tremendous help. Be sure you tell your psychiatrist that you have an eating disorder; certain medications, such as Wellbutrin, can cause seizures in people with eating disorders, even those in recovery.
- Dieticians and nutritionists can be very helpful for nutritional counseling. Just make sure you are dealing with someone who knows something about eating disorders. (I am very serious. There are dieticians out there who tell anorexic patients that they need to "beef up." Believe me, comments like that do not help at all.)
- You don't have to be underweight to warrant a more intense levels of treatment; the degree of help you need isn't measured on a scale, either. Partial hospitalization programs, inpatient hospitalization, or residential care may provide a more structured, "safer" environment, which is sometimes just what a person needs to get back on the right track.
For more information on where to find therapists and/or treatment centers, please visit our links page
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