For years I kept my eating disorder a secret - partly out of embarrassment and partly out of the fact that "no one" will understand. NO ONE except maybe ALL of YOU out there who are dealing or have dealt with anorexia or bulimia. E.D.s are a crazy thing that take over and make you do things that don't make sense even to the person doing them.
I can remember many drives home from high school - crying - talking myself out of doing the inevitable.....devouring boxes of cereal and loaves of bread only to throw them up, head out the door for a run, then off to wait tables for the evening! I hated it so why did I do it?
It's not about the food - it's not about self discipline - it's about being in control - about numbing yourself from whatever it is for just a few minutes - it becomes a habit. Habits are hard to break, especially when they are linked to your self worth.
Since my last blog, What's in my food log? - many of you have reached out for help or to share stories. I am not a therapist and what worked for me may not work for you. It's hard to know where to start so I am just picking one thing that may help you get closer to recovery.
Identify your Triggers
Start a log of the following:
What are you DOING when E.D. comes knocking on your door?
Is it after school/work each day? Is it Friday night when you don't have plans with friends? Is it Sunday afternoon when you're blue and lonely?
Start to notice patterns in days, times, and events that trigger E.D. thoughts.
What are you FEELING when E.D. creeps back into your life?
Do you want to binge/purge when you're bored? Is it when you're angry? Is purging your way of dealing with being overwhelmed? Do you feel helpless or out of control at work and respond by binging? Is it because you're lonely?
Start to notice feelings that trigger your escape via your eating disorder.
Does E.D. punish you for not being PERFECT?
Do you make a less than perfect presentation and punish yourself? Do you have 1 extra bite of nacho and decide "all is lost" so you fall into the rabbit hole of binging? Do you hate something about yourself so much - you must deserve this? Is it simply the TYPE of food that you eat that triggers the binge ie: pasta or cake?
Start to notice if your E.D. is a act AGAINST you!
Now what!?! Identifying your triggers won't stop your actions. However, it can give you the access to avoiding situations or foods that set you off. It can also help you start to make plans and choices that break your habit. For example, if you know that coming home to an empty house after work is a trigger - join a 5:30pm CrossFit class, make dinner plans with friends, etc. If you know that having a terrible sales presentation is a trigger - call a friend, take your dog for a walk.
For me, binging and purging was a reaction to being overwhelmed! Anytime, I felt I had too much to handle or take on - I used E.D. as a drug to numb. While you're in the midst of an episode there is nothing else in the world. At one time in my life that was better than dealing with whatever I was overwhelmed by.
You'll find that often the desire to self destruct disappears and you're left with one huge ACCOMPLISHMENT - finding another way to deal with your feelings!
Give yourself a break - you're gonna have tough days but if identifying your triggers gets rid of just a few of your episodes. What do you really have to lose?