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Eating Disorder Resource

The Alliance for Eating Disorders recommends a simple acronym to help you cope during your loved one’s recovery journey:

 

C
  • You didn’t CAUSE it.
  • You can’t CONTROL it.
  • You can’t CURE it.
  • You can learn how NOT to CONTRIBUTE to it.
  • You need to learn how to COPE with it.
  • Take CARE of yourself.
P
  • Avoid PANIC. It prohibits clear thinking and calm reactions.
  • Recovery is a PROCESS. Two steps forward, one step back.
  • PROGRESS, not PERFECTION, is the goal. PATIENCE is critical.
R
  • RESPOND instead of REACT.
  • REMEMBER to listen.
  • REFLECT and REASON before you speak.
  • RECOVERY is a journey, a long ROAD that may include RELAPSE.
  • REACH out to others for love and support.

 

For more information about resources for loved ones, or to contact Prosperity for assistance, visit our website at www.prosperityedwell.com.

*Adapted from The Alliance for Eating Disorderswww.allianceforeatingdisorders.com

Suggested Reading

  • Life Without ED – Jenni Schafer
  • Healing Your Hungry Heart – Joanna Poppink
  • 8 Keys to Eating Disorder Recovery – Carolyn Costin, MA, MED, MFCC; Gewn Schubert
  • Eating by the Light of the Moon – Anita Johnson
  • 100 Questions and Answers About ED – Carolyn Costin, MA, MED, MFCC
  • Brave Girl Eating – Harriet Brown
  • Eating With Your Anorexic – Laura Collins
  • Father Hunger – Margo Maine, PhD
  • Parent’s Guide to Eating Disorders – Marcia Herrin, EDD, MPH, RD & Nancy Matsumoto
  • Life Beyond Your Eating Disorder – Johanna S. Kandel

*Adapted from the Alliance for Eating Disorderswww.allianceforeatingdisorders.com

Coming Home from Treatment

There have been many times that a client, fresh from residential treatment or partial hospitalization, has told me that he or she is surprised to return home to find that nothing has really changed. Life around them is still the same. Sure, they learned some skills in treatment but it didn’t solve the life challenges that can be so triggering. Sometimes in the moment emotions are so overwhelming that our first instinct is to return to the coping mechanism that’s become so ingrained in our daily existence. One client actually told me that she didn’t see a point in working so hard on recovery if nothing around her was going to change. She would rather cling to the one thing that’s been consistent in her life: her eating disorder.

Eating disorders are about different things for different people, and at some point in every sufferer’s journey they serve a purpose. For the person who has a difficult home life, the eating disorder may be where she retreats for comfort and control in the chaos. For the person with perfectionistic tendencies who has found that he can’t possibly excel at everything, the eating disorder is something he has complete power over and therefore can excel at. This is part of what makes eating disorders so difficult to give up- underneath the physical and psychological wreckage are definite reasons that hanging on to the illness is reasonable and even necessary.

The problem is that on some level we know that the eating disorder cannot be sustained. We cannot continue to restrict food and expect to live. We cannot binge and purge or over-exercise and expect to lead a healthy, high-functioning life. The physical body clings to every morsel of nourishment and may seem to be able to run on fumes indefinitely. Eventually, the body will crash but the mind will continue to come up with what seem like totally rational reasons to keep pushing. Sometimes, not even hospitalization is enough to spur a leap into recovery.

Life can be a shock for people returning to home, school, or work after inpatient or residential treatment. There is something of a protective bubble in higher levels of care. The intensive treatment provides a safe place for recovery to begin and skills to be learned. It is one thing to apply skills in the treatment milieu or even in family therapy sessions, but it is far another to try to apply them in the overwhelming situations that life can throw at us. According to a study discussed in the Science of Eating Disorders, following intensive residential treatment most women noticed a reduction in behaviors (i.e. they were able to maintain a healthy weight) but cognitive symptoms and thought patterns were still very much present. The cognitive changes that allow us to be able to handle life without the eating disorder take much more time to develop, which is why a solid outpatient program is so important.

The Science of Eating Disorders article lists the major factors that assist people in maintaining recovery:

  • Social support: maintaining connections with family, friends, and treatment team

  • Skills application: continued practice of assertiveness, communication, and meal planning skills

  • Stepping outside oneself: returning to work or school, volunteering, working on higher values all help the focus return to life rather than eating disorder.

Not surprisingly, one major factor that inhibits maintained recovery is loss of support and lack of structure. The importance of these cannot be overstated. People with eating disorders must engage treatment and refuse isolation, even on the worst days. This takes courage and often a profound show of “acting as if” until it becomes easier. Especially as clients return to challenging life situations, the right support can make all the difference.

Science of Eating Disorders (2012). Maintaining Change Following Intensive Eating Disorder Treatment. www.scienceofeds.org

 

DBT Skills

 

                                                             

 DBT Skill for June: Improve the Moment

Some of the ways we can Improve The Moment Are:

  • Imagery
  • Meaning
  • Prayer
  • Relaxation
  • One thing at a time
  • Vacation
  • Encouragement

When practicing this skill, we are not trying to CHANGE the external circumstance, but rather trying to improve the moment to make it more tolerable (or even more enjoyable) for just this moment.

Here are some examples of putting the skills into action:

  • Imagery: Imagine very relaxing scenes…Imagine everything going well. Imagine coping well…
  • Meaning: Find or create some purpose, meaning, or value in the pain [that’s what I do with this blog, by the way!]. Focus on whatever positive aspects of a painful situation you can find…
  • Prayer: Open your heart to a supreme being, greater wisdom, God, or your own wise mind. Ask for Strength to bear the pain in the moment…
  • Relaxation: Try muscle relaxing and tensing each large muscle group…take a hot bath…breathe deeply; half smile; change facial expression…
  • One thing in the Moment: Focus your entire attention on what you are doing right now. Keep yourself in the very moment you are in; put your mind in the present
  • Take a Brief Vacation: Rent a motel room at the beach or in the woods for a day or two. Ask your roommate to bring you coffee in bed or make you dinner (offer to reciprocate)…Get a  magazine or newspaper at the grocery store, get in bed with chocolates, and read it…
  • Encouragement: Cheerlead yourself. Repeat over and over: ‘I can stand it,’ ‘It won’t last forever.’ ‘I will make it out of this,’ ‘I am doing the best I can do.'”

 

Social Media: A Catalyst for Eating Disorder Recovery?


 
We live in a media driven culture with an endless supply of TV shows, internet sites, and phone apps to keep us busy every minute. These platforms are used to deliver messages meant to persuade, inspire, and entertain. Many of these messages contain images of men and women airbrushed to perfection….and it is that very image of perfection that haunts us as we study our own bodies and make comparisons.
 
To say that the internet has influenced body image is an understatement. In recent years, the rise of pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia websites has glorified eating disorders and praised the behaviors that keep sufferers locked in the illness. The Social Issues Research Centre (www.sirc.org) reports that these “pro-ana” websites target individuals who consider their eating disorders to be lifestyles, something to maintain and celebrate. Users share tips on how to engage behaviors and provide support for each other’s illnesses. For individuals who are in recovery, websites like this can be seriously detrimental. Some people in recovery refuse to engage in social media at all, citing the prevalence of hashtags like #thighgap and #thinspogram as just a few of many reasons to shelter themselves from the social media revolution. USA Today (www.usatoday.com) shares the story of Donna, who is in recovery from bulimia. Afraid to expose herself to the kinds of comparisons that fueled her illness, Donna has decided to stay away from popular social media sites like Facebook and Instagram.
 
While it’s clear that social media and pro-eating disorder websites have played a part in our global obsession with obtaining perfection, more and more websites  dedicated to positive body image and recovery are beginning to pop up. Someone searching for eating disorder tips may stumble upon a recovery website or blog and be drawn into a story of hope….leading to the inspiration to begin recovery. The National Eating Disorders Association (www.nationaleatingdisorders.org) shares the story of one woman who came across the NEDA website in her search for a pro-eating disorder community….a lucky accident that turned out to be the catalyst for her recovery. Nonprofit organizations dedicated to awareness and advocacy use the power of the internet to spread positive body image messages. Eating disorder treatment centers are also getting involved in the awareness movement, offering blogs, webinars, and professional events designed to educate and inspire.
 
Instagram is also proving to be a powerful recovery tool. An online photo-sharing service, Instagram users can visually communicate their lives to their followers. Some individuals in recovery have turned their Instagram accounts into recovery accounts. The Atlantic (www.theatlantic.com) describes this type of account as a place where users can gain support while maintaining as much anonymity as they would like. Some people don’t use their real names, and others find that it’s easier to open up and share initially in an online environment. Recovery accounts document the progress users are making through pictures of meals, inspirational messages, and even pictures of users’ bodies as they work toward weight restoration. Support from followers during the recovery journey can be motivating and provide comfort during difficult periods.
 
Although social media can be a positive recovery tool, users must be vigilant and pay attention to their triggers. Any concerning thoughts and behaviors should be taken seriously and addressed with a treatment team.
 
 
Totally In Control: The Rise of Pro-Ana/Pro-Mia Websites. Social Issues Research Centre, www.sirc.org
 
Rojas, M. (2014). Social Media Helps Fuel Some Eating Disorders. USA Today, www.usatoday.com
 
Kay, J. (2014). How Social Media Led Me to Recovery. National Eating Disorders Association, www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
 
Mirhashem, M. (2015). Overcoming an Eating Disorder with Instagram. The Atlantic, www.theatlantic.com