dismantling an eating disorder: a therapist’s view

a little while i promised i would go into a bit more detail about some of the submissions to last month’s carnival of eating disorders. here is an article by msempower, entitled how to dismantle an eating disorder.

i’ve lived much of my life in search of a cure for my eating disorder. i’ve ventured into countless bookstores perusing the self-help, addiction and psychology sections. sound familiar? over time i read each of these books in hopes of finding the directions to dismantle my eating disorder. in fact, i did enough research to award myself an unofficial phd in eating disorder studies.

many people with long-term difficulties are extraordinarily knowledgeable in their “field”. a wise therapist will always take that into account. as a therapist, my job is to help the client make sense of it, help her design and follow a roadmap for change, and provide information that may not have been covered in the client’s research – for example, background on some types of family therapy that are used in dealing with anorexia. and … well, we’ll talk about that in a moment.

unfortunately, at this stage of my eating disorder, i hadn’t yet given myself permission to see the wisdom and insightful messages that lay within each of these books. and, to be honest, i was too malnourished to make sense of much of what i was reading.

it is amazing how often clients suffer from a lack of the basics. a person who is in a state of constant hypoglycemia cannot think straight. a parent whose child is going through a difficult time may not be overly motivated to concentrate on his overeating issues. it’s important to always ask, are all the bases covered? where are we on maslow’s hierarchy of needs?blog-maslow-mtholyoke-edu.jpg

looking back at myself 15 years ago, my external search was my way of emotionally detaching myself from my disorder; avoiding the painful feelings that lay buried within . the little girl overwhelmed with guilt because she doesn’t feel deserving of her parents’ sacrifices. the insecure 7th grader who never felt she quite fit-in. the student who defined herself through her academic success. the employee who equivocated praise with self-worth. the woman who after years of living with her eating disorder had lost her sense of self

yes, all this research can be quite futile if we don’t also engage in self-research – soul searching, reflection. a person can be an amazing expert – but if they don’t know themselves, it’s very difficult to make changes. you don’t have to necessarily know absolutely everything about yourself, you don’t need to become a narcissistic navel gazer – but if you don’t know your basic layout, you don’t even know what needs to be changed.

so – as a therapist, my job is also to help people become experts in themselves.

it looks like msempower is doing a great job in getting to know herself:

the more i allowed myself to see the whole 360 degrees of me” the goodness and confidence along with the fear and insecurity, the closer i got to recovery road.

exactly: it’s expertise in yourself – not just any “eating disorder case”. every person is different, has different needs, talents, strengths, weaknesses. msempower recognizes that:

i’d give you a copy of my directions, but unfortunately they won’t be of much help. since your eating disorder is different from mine, our directions are different as well. they may have similarities. in fact, i have an instinct that they all look like a chutes & ladders game board. in the end, we all have different ladders to climb and different chutes that will prolong our trip.

thanks, msempower, for sharing your journey with us!

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

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