I relapsed when I was 20, so there were a lot of non-anorexia years in there. I’ve been in a medley of relapse/recovery/lapse/relapse/recovery/etc. for the past 3 years. However, some people definitely survive that long with anorexia. I’ve met a number of people who have. It’s a really sad way to live.
Since I’m not sure of you’re exact situation, I’ll give you pretty much what I wish I would have been told when I was 14 and in recovery.
- The biggest piece of advice I would give to you is reach out. Eating disorders love isolation and secrecy. I’m not sure where you are in the recovery process in terms of getting treatment. If you haven’t told your parents, try to find a way to tell them. If that seems daunting, get in touch with your guidance counselor or school psychologist. If people aren’t helping you, try to keep reaching out until someone does. It can be hard for parents to understand things like EDNOS, so sometimes having a professional explain it to them is very helpful. Building a support network of friends, adults, and professionals who are there for you lets you lean on them emotionally and also helps keep you accountable.
- Try not to lie. Even when it seems benign, even when it just seems easier, even when you feel like you can’t doing what’s being asked of you. It’s much better to tell the truth, even if you have to admit something like throwing away a lunch, because it addresses things that could be changed and doesn’t foster the lies that can get out of control and keep you sick.
- Set achievable goals and reward yourself for meeting them. If your parents are supportive, you can ask for their help on this. For example, if you follow your meal plan completely for one week, you could get yourself a charm for a charm bracelet or if you go for a week without purging you could ask your parents to take you and a friend to see a museum. Focus on rewarding and celebrating your progress.
- Practice self-compassion. Don’t beat yourself up about “failing” at recovery. It’s extremely hard! Self-hate or blame for messing up are destructive to your recovery because eating disorders are fueled by those emotions. Try to feel compassion for the part of yourself that is hurting so much that you feel the need to use these behaviors.
- Remember that the person you are now and the life you have now are very different from the person you’ll get to chose to be and the life you’ll get to chose to have 5 or 10 years down the line. You’re recovering to get to live that life. Even if things suck right now, it does get better and they won’t be this way forever. That life is what you’re fighting for.
- This might be the hardest thing you have to do in your life, but then you’re a teenager who has already conquered their biggest foe. You can really get through anything at that point.
Aw, thanks so much hon! I really appreciate messages like this and I’m so honored to provide inspiration to anyone. Best of wishes on your road to recovery <3
I can understand why you would be anxious about speaking to a new doctor after having been wrongly dismissed in the past and it’s very brave that you’re seeking help now. It definitely sounds like you’ve got something going on in terms of dermatillomania or trichotillomania that is worth seeing a doctor about (the two tend to coexist quite frequently). I think it might be helpful to bring them some information about trichotillomania and dermatillomania so that they can familiarize themselves. Here’s a link to one resource for doctors.
A psychologist might be better equipped to treat you in the longer term. These conditions tend to respond well to cognitive behavioral therapy. Perhaps you could ask your doctor for your referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist. If you look into seeing someone who deals with OCD and anxiety disorders, you might find someone with a better understanding. Anxiety and compulsive picking/pulling disorders should definitely not be disregarded by anyone. I’m sorry that it’s taken so long for you to get some help for this. If your doctor doesn’t listen, I hope you can reach out to another professional like a psychologist or psychiatrist. One doctor’s information doesn’t have to prevent you from getting the help you need. I really doubt that they will discount you because it sounds like things are becoming pretty severe. They may be able to give you some creams to prevent infection on the areas that are bad right now, but you need more than just physical support.
Just so you know, I suffered from dermatillomania and trichotillomania pretty severely when I was younger and I am basically free of it entirely at this point, so it’s certainly something that is treatable. Don’t let anyone discount you— you can beat this.
Best wishes <3
Hey beautiful. I know that it’s really really hard to trust in the process and that your eating disorder will be questioning things every step of the way. I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that your eating disorder will NEVER make you happy. Even if you can’t trust every moment in the fact that recovery will be worth it, there is hope. There’s the chance for happiness with recovery and that just doesn’t exist when you’re stuck in a disorder. A doctor once told me that recovering from my eating disorder was probably going to be the most difficult thing I ever had to do in my life, and that sounds daunting, but it really means that when you conquer this, you can literally do anything. You’re unstoppable.
Recovery is hard and you’re going to have stumbles. Don’t beat yourself up or feel like a failure! It’s normal and the struggle is part of the process. The struggle is the feeling of the eating disorder fighting you and you pushing back against it. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t. Over time, the skills you will learn help you win more often, and the more you win, the easier it becomes. Keep with it.
I found that it takes somewhat of a leap of faith to jump into the recovery process. You are taking the leap of faith that recovery holds what is promised- happiness, peace, emotions, relationships, life. Other people know that this is true and have experienced it, but your eating disorder might tell you that this isn’t true for you. Take that leap of faith and chose the hope that’s in recovery over the certainty of unhappiness from your disorder.
(In response to the extreme hunger post)
Thank you so much hon. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through this too. The thing is that I’ve unfortunately done this whole shebang before, so I know that it’ll end if I eat properly on a very consistent basis. It’s a question of getting from here to there. I wish you the absolute best in your recovery and thank you again for your kind message.
This is so sweet and inspiring. I’m not sure who takes the time to send such lovely messages but I am so happy that you’re putting such positive energy into the world. I wish you all the best <3
Oh, hon. I’m sorry to hear that you’re hurting so much and I certainly take your pain very seriously. Anyone who thinks that EDNOS is less serious than anorexia or bulimia is seriously misinformed. There are lots of folks on here who have EDNOS or who understand eating disorders and know that eating disorders don’t discriminate when it comes to misery. I know how hard it is for the rest of the world not to understand how much pain you’re in but remember that the pain you experience emotionally is important even outside of a given weight or behavior. Try to get the people closest to you to understand the severity of your pain, and if they don’t let them go. You’re worth taking seriously but you don’t need to prove to the world anything about being sick. If you ever need to reach out to someone, there are many people here who can support you.
I feel this way frequently, and I’m sorry to hear that your ED has been screaming at you so much right now. I know that everyone deals with it differently, but mostly I postpone the giving up. I’ve had this feeling frequently enough to know that it will pass as long as I don’t engage it. I say to myself, “Okay, I can give up but not today” and then just keep pushing myself. It almost always passes and I’m left wondering what was so awful that I wanted to give up. You can accept how crappy it feels and how much pain you are in. You don’t need to push the pain away, but you do need to postpone acting on it. The screaming will pass and the more often you don’t give in to its demands, the stronger you’ll get at moving past it. Not sure if this will help, but it’s what I can do to get through those moments. Hope you feel better soon <3
Thanks lovely. I’m having a bit of a shit time because my car got stolen yesterday and I feel like I’ve been pretty much having a panic attack since then. I really appreciate the sentiment. I needed some positivity in my day, so thank you. <3
Hey hon. Your friend is very lucky that she has a friend like you who she has felt comfortable sharing something like this with and who is taking the step of asking for resources for how to help. The most important one is talking to her and asking her what specific things you can do to support her. Examples might be choosing to spend time at places that do not focus on food, like going to a painting studio or something, being available to be a distraction when she is struggling with urges, etc. You can also be a positive influence when it comes to food and body image by not engaging in fat-talk or diet-talk. Every person has different needs, and asking her what specific things you can do to help empowers her to reach out for support and makes it clear what you can do to be supportive.
You can also try to gain a deeper understanding of what things are like for her right now. One of the resources that helped my friends the most the most was the book "Brave Girl Eating" by Harriet Brown. I don’t think that someone without an eating disorder, or even another person with an eating disorder, will always know what to say, so don’t feel pressured to be a perfect support.
Here are some other resources that might be useful:
- How to talk to someone about their eating disorder
- 10 things never to say to someone with an eating disorder
- How to help a friend with eating and body image issues
- How can I help a friend or family member with anorexia nervosa
- Support bulletin board for family and friends at somethingfishy
- What you can (and can’t) do at somethingfishy
- Approaching someone you care about at somethingfishy
- FEAST Facts About Eating Disorders
- How To Help a Loved One at The Alliance For Eating Disorders
- Eating Disorder Myths by NEDA
I’m so proud of you for making tough choices to put your recovery first! I really wish you all the best and think you’re being very brave. Thank you for the message, it was very kind <3
Follow this lovely lady :)
**TW** Hi Jules! I was wondering what would qualify me to be hospitalized? I am currently seeing a nutritionist and therapist. (I set up appointments with them in the next 2 weeks because I haven’t seen them in 5+ weeks). I’ve relapsed and I found out that my BMI is in the x range. (It’s a longer story) I don’t believe in the whole BMI thing, but I feel like the hospitals would. Do you think an exception would be made if I worked hard with my support system?
I’m very glad to hear that you’re recognizing the relapse and taking steps to get back on track with your treatment team. Generally speaking, there’s no hard and fast rule for when someone is hospitalized based solely on BMI. It may partly depend on your medical stability, so you may have to be assessed by a doctor before they entirely decide on a course of action. Things will also depend on the beliefs about treatment held by your treatment team as well as their history with you. Another factor may be how quickly you can turn things around with support. If they feel like things are continuing to decline or that you’re not able to do it without more support, they are going to be more inclined to recommend something like hospitalization or residential treatment. Everyone is different when it comes to the type of treatment that would work best, even at different times in one’s life. If you’re medically stable and willing to work hard with your support system to turn things around, it’s possible that inpatient wouldn’t be the choice that you all make right now. The next two weeks may be critical for you to have the most opportunity to remain out of the hospital. If you can keep things stable or especially if you begin to improve things in the next two weeks, it’s a sign to everyone that you’re able to do this outside of a hospital environment. I understand that this might not be possible emotionally, but if you really want to stay out of the hospital, this is possible motivation. If your BMI falls further or if you spend longer entrenched in behaviors, you will have fewer options.
Best wishes! <3
I definitely understand feeling this way. It’s always hard to bring everything back out for a new person, no matter if they’re a different therapist or just a new member of your treatment team. It can seem overwhelming and unpleasant to bring these things back up. To start, you don’t have to get through everything in the first session. I find that it’s helpful to first establish a timeline for someone. I’ll actually write down my story in bullet form from “beginning” to now in order. This gets my thoughts in order before the appointment and helps me get through it without becoming too emotionally involved. You can think of this first visit as the beginning of an outline; one that you’ll be filling in with this new therapist for a long time in the future. You also don’t need to get too much into the emotional stuff if you don’t want to. If you’d prefer to outline things in a more matter-of-fact way and then get to the hard feelings later, that’s perfectly okay. It’s impossible to convey the complexity of your experiences in a session or a few sessions. However, working with someone new can help you to reframe a lot of your past experiences in a new way, which can be very helpful.
You can also tell your new therapist about how you’re feeling. Some people won’t want you to retell all your details right away. You can start with where you’re at right now and go from there as you’re comfortable. If you have the opportunity, you can have someone else, like your old therapist or someone who has treated you, provide this therapist with a history so you won’t have to re-tell so much.
Hope this helps and best wishes with the new therapist!