As EDAW2016 comes to a close, it has been very obvious from all your responses and reactions to our blogs that many of you –old, young; male, female; athlete and non-athlete are struggling and often suffering in silence. You may not have a fully diagnosed eating disorder but deep down know that life is a out of kilter - being too harsh, never letting yourself off the hook - always searching for that little bit more!
Popular Slogans thrust in our faces on a daily basis consolidate what we already believe - we must keep going!
Motivational?? For those of us that struggle with a sense of self, these slogans can become punishing mantras, setting up a negative and destructive cycle – when will success occur? When will you be good enough?
One of the most striking aspects of working in Eating disorders I have observed is the lack of compassion for ones own body, the inability to be kind to oneself; Instead sticking to extreme behaviours involving restricting energy intake and pushing the body physically to breaking point.
This is the stark reality of an eating disorder - enough is never good enough. no matter what the number on the scale or the size on the jeans say, you can always go that little bit further. Then there will be the rules and rituals that need to be maintained; even when the body is screaming for the individual to stop, the body is showing signs it is breaking down, there is a need for this order and control because without it life feels too unsafe to live in.
Recovering from an Eating disorder, is a long and difficult journey – individuals need constant support and reassurance – something that is not always easy to find.
For those of you who may be on route on this journey or for those of you who may be supporting someone who is perhaps struggling to start this jouney, ABC and I have come up with the followings strategies that may prove helpful.
· Rather than focusing on weight gain, think of recovery as restoration and balance for your body.
· Be aware that negative emotions such as stress, tiredness, anxiety can lead to distorted “feelings” about yourself and your body -you will be tempted to "regain control" but remind yourself that restricting your intake is not a solution - it never has been and has never provided you with the "happiness" you have been in search of.
· Remember weight fluctuates on a daily basis and is usually related to fluid balance -most individuals can be up to 2Kg heavier at the end of the day despite what they have eaten!
· Remember your body requires a minimum number of calories just to be awake, lying still, breathing.
· Remember set backs are part of the journey to recovery but also focus on where you have come from and what you have achieved; perhaps list what you have gained from recovery -the physical - feeling less cold and the emotional - eating a fear food with the realisation that nothing awful happened!
· Your weight is just a number -it doesn't define you and should not dictate how you perceive yourself and more importantly how you think others perceive you -would you judge an individual on their weight?
· Have a favourite outfit or accessory that makes you feel good about yourself that you can wear on days you need confidence.
· If you are having a bad day, confide in someone you trust – a problem shared is a problem halved.
· On days you are struggling, ensure you eat with someone you feel is a good role model.
· Do something nice for yourself, you are worth it!