Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric illnesses. This is a startling statistic. IF ONLY quoting a statistic could prevent the development and enduring nature of eating disorders! But these are not illnesses people choose and it can feel very difficult to change course when you are actively living with one. In general, humans are adverse to change; it’s uncomfortable and even positive change invites loss. People who are susceptible to developing an eating disorder often possess a temperament that craves control and predictability, only amplifying natural resistance to change. These two elements combined can make choosing life over an eating disorder feel daunting. But it does not need to be that way. There is hope for living a life of recovery, and there are great treatment options available right here in Denver.
Losing: Letting Go of an Eating Disorder
Eating disorders breed social isolation, energy depletion (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual), and dishonest patterns from people who are otherwise truth tellers. If you struggle with an eating disorder, those around you may be acutely aware of the costs of the illness. They see the devastation and often struggle to understand there are very real factors that maintain one’s eating disorder.
Whether you are personally struggling or know someone who is, it is necessary to acknowledge how the eating disorder HAS functioned. Validating what it has provided is an important step in choosing to let it go. This validation does not mean endorsing the illness and its behaviors, but allows space to observe the needs the eating disorder has attempted to meet so alternative methods can be explored. While these patterns develop for a wide variety of reasons, they often function as a form of avoidance. They can provide a sense of control, security, companionship, emotion regulation, communication, and can numb unwanted parts of one’s experience. It is not surprising people accidentally stumble into these behavior patterns. They work, but only in the SHORT TERM. They are unsustainable and while they may offer a brief reprieve, the core issues remain. Therapy provides a space to both practice skills to disrupt behaviors and to address the underlying needs the behaviors have been attempting to meet.
Gaining: Choosing Life over an Eating Disorder
There are many positive gains to be had in choosing life over an eating disorder. In taking this leap of faith, the positives far outweigh the discomfort of change. To begin with, there is the decreased guilt in the absence of eating disorder behaviors. Guilt over the behavior use, guilt over the concealment and deception, guilt over not coping better, guilt over distancing one’s self from others…the list goes on and on. Choosing life over an eating disorder allows one to live a more present and lighter life free from the weight of constant regret.
Therapy provides a space to learn how to address the underlying needs and issues more directly, which allows one to live a more purposeful and meaningful life. Think about it…if all of your energy is no longer going towards escaping parts on your reality through eating disorder behaviors, you are freed up to move TOWARDS the life you want to live as opposed to being tied up moving AWAY from the latest trigger. What an opportunity! All of a sudden there is the space and energy to re-evaluate what you want your life to be about; what you value and how you want to show up in relationships. There is so much possibility in the uncertainty. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.