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Eating Disorder Recovery: Mapping Your Progress

Eating Disorder Recovery: Mapping Your Progress

Healing from an eating disorder is a journey.  The path isn’t always easy and level, but neither is life.  You must want to get well, to move forward and reestablish a healthy, balanced relationship with food.  Once you have understood that something is drastically wrong with the choices you are making in your life, the responsibility for making positive change lies solely with you.  You must replace the false control of food with a positive control based on your new understanding of yourself and your past.

As you continue on your healing journey, allow me to give you some food for thought.  Mapping your progress can be very beneficial.  I encourage you to use a journal to assist in the recovery process.  Here are six tips for you to consider:

  1. Imagine your healing process as a journey.  Draw a map in your journal of your progress so far.  Show the path you’ve taken, the obstacles you’ve had to overcome or work around.  Write about the high points where you’ve come to understand a hidden truth.  Label it, “My Journey.”  Remember, don’t worry about the quality of your drawing.  Use color and whatever details help cement how you’re really feeling.  This picture is for you, a visual chronicle of the work you’ve done so far.
  2. Go back through a previous healing journal to refresh your memory.  Read over the statements and questions you’ve already answered.  Take a moment to put this journey into perspective.  Fill in your journey up to this point and then, if you like, anticipate some of the highs and lows that may come up as you continue.  If you can anticipate the lows, it may help you to get through them.  You’ll have an idea they are coming, although you may not be sure exactly when.
  3. Looking at your map, what are the major high points so far?  What are the major valleys so far?
  4. As you look over your past, what are you able to see now, from a more mature viewpoint, that you haven’t been able to see before?  Think about letting go of your anger.  What are your immediate reactions?  Read these next two statements aloud and then write down your answers:
    • I’ve always thought I was at fault for what happened to me.  Now I can see that what happened to me happened because…
    • It’s difficult to forgive my parents for not being perfect because…
  5. Read over the following and respond as honestly as you can.
    • It’s hard for me to accept responsibility for how I use food because…
    • I realize I’ve contributed to my unhealthy relationship with food by…
    • In order to get well, I’ve been able to…
    • I choose to accept the responsibility for my future because…
    • In order to get well, I’ve been able to…
    • I choose to accept the responsibility for my future because…
  6. You have to want to get well.  You have to believe you can get well.  Use the following statements to reinforce your desire and your belief in your own healing.
    • I have the following reasons for wanting to get well…
    • These are the reasons I know I can get well…

You have been experiencing waves of emotions that have tossed and turned you about.  It is time for some calmer waters.  Everything we do, see, and experience is sifted through the filter of our perspective.  It provides the lend through which we see the world.  Continue to document your healing journey.  In time, you will be able to reflect and see how far you have come.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, The Center • A Place of HOPE can help.  Call 1-888-771-5166 today and a specialist will answer any questions you might have.

 

Eating Disorders and the Cycle of Anger

Eating Disorders and the Cycle of Anger

Eating disorders and negative patterns with food begin with personal pain and set up a vicious cycle of anger: destructive behavior—shame—depression—self-hate—and back to anger. No matter what your food patterns, the misuse of food starts as a natural response of anger to pain. It goes something like this:

  • Something has caused tremendous pain in your life.
  • The pain hurts, and that you should experience this pain is unjust and makes you angry.
  • As you look for a way to vent this anger, to seek respite from the anger, you choose food.
  • Control of food, either through under-eating, over-eating, or intentional unhealthy eating, becomes a self-destructive behavior.
  • Your active participation in a self-destructive behavior produces feelings of guilt and shame.
  • Intense feelings of guilt and shame produce a profound sense of depression.
  • Guilt, shame and depression reinforce self-hate.
  • Self-hate says you deserve the pain.
  • Now you are angry not only at the pain in your past but at yourself for the pain in the present.
  • Once again you choose to vent this anger, to gain relief from this anger, by controlling food and continuing your self-destructive behavior.
  • Continuing this behavior produces shame and guilt.
  • Shame and guilt reinforce self-hate.
  • Self-hate says you deserve pain.
  • And the cycle continues on.

Breaking this cycle and finding the strength to disconnect from an unhealthy relationship with food requires relearning not only the proper response to food, but also the proper response to anger. Anger occurs as a natural result in life. We get angry over large and small things every day. How we deal with anger is something we are taught through either example or direct instruction. The training ground for dealing with anger is the family. Too often we have learned inappropriate ways of dealing with our anger through the examples of our families.

You’ve been numbing or avoiding your anger through your patterns with food for so long that it may be difficult for you to connect with that anger and put it into words. Oftentimes, however, recovery from your eating disorder can only be realized once you dig into the true origin of that anger.

Control over this anger has been the silent motivation behind your food patterns. But overeating, unhealthy eating, bingeing and purging, or starving your emotions into submission has only brought you a temporary respite from this emotion at a terrible physical and emotional cost.

The way to really control this feeling of anger is first to acknowledge that it is real. You need to understand your anger. You need to really feel it.

Re-experiencing your anger in its fullness is the price you must pay to free yourself from its control. Confronting your anger and those who caused it will free you for the next step—forgiveness. Only then will you be able to break the cycle of anger, and start taking back the control over your emotions and life.

If you are struggling with a cycle of anger that is fueling an eating disorder, contact the eating disorder specialists at The Center • A Place of HOPE at 1-888-771-5166. They can help you explore support and treatment options to regain your health and well-being.

Excerpts of this blog were taken from Dr. Gregory Jantz’s book Hope Help & Healing for Eating Disorders: A Whole-Person Approach to Treatment of Anorexia, Bulimia, and Disordered Eating.