“I keep making the same mistake. I’m not sure I will ever be able to change.”
-My sweet client
When I heard this, I knew the feeling she was experiencing. I remember being her exact age waking up from sleeping an entire 24 hours straight. I was too ashamed and overwhelmed by my predicament to face life back then. People seem understand chemical dependency in the form of alcoholism and drug abuse, but they do not understand that anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder are chemical dependencies too. In fact, not only are they a self medicating that need to be addressed, dealt with, and recovered from, but unlike drug abuse and alcoholism those of us with eating disorders cannot just hang up our drug and never surround ourselves with it again (hear me, I am by no means minimizing drug and alcohol abuse). We have to eat to live! And to make matters worse, not only do we have to use our drug of choice for survival, people make light of our plight by shoving it in our face as well. Since they have not experienced the complete overpowering urge to binge sometimes immediately followed by purging, or the sheer and utter terror of taking one bite of an “off limits food”, they think nothing of the the phrase “Oh just a little won’t hurt.” or “Oh just this once.” Or even the damage that is caused in pushing someone to eat the food they have made because they find it rude when someone doesn’t eat what they have put forth the effort to make. They do not understand that what they are doing by pushing food on someone with an eating disorder is like offering heroin to an addict or a beer to an alcoholic. I’m sure some of you will read that and think that it can’t possibly be like that. That’s ok. I hope you never have to know what it’s like.
When I heard her statement, I felt the sorrow that she felt. But I felt great joy at the same time! While I know that feeling of inflicting your own utter chaos on yourself. The shame and humiliation of not only having the eating disorder, but the shame and humiliation that is often times feeding the eating disorder. The absolute belief that you will never be able to get a handle on it and live life like a normal person. That you may just be destined to die from it. Unless you have been through it, you have no idea the feeling of the binge urge. It is far beyond will power or “busying yourself” so that you don’t give in. No, the urge will win every time. The key is to get rid of the urge which is coming from a place of great inner pain.
So while I know her great pain, I have great joy in the fact that although she believes in her mind is defeated, she is not! There is in fact another side to the fence!
If you are struggling, it is very important for you to know that there is another side to the fence. There is. Even if you are so far from even seeing the fence! Obviously, it’s a long long road to recovery. But if you are in need of something to help you right now, here are these four steps to get you started while you are finding someone to help you on your road to recovery.
- Ask, Seek, Knock (Matthew 7:7) Pray for God to get you through this.
- Find out how to eat healthy and keep a healthy diet. A poor diet makes the binge urges stronger and keeps them coming more frequently.
- Exercise. Exercise not only works as an antidepressant but it also helps to regulate hunger making it easier to keep a healthy diet.
- Wait. Be patient because it’s a long road. Make the effort everyday and do not give up. Keep fighting.
And remember that one day, when you are past it, you will be able to walk with someone through their journey to recovery.
Then what a blessing you will be.