Tag Archives: advice

Some suggestions for those who visit or stay with someone who has an eating disorder

I’m going to list some suggestions for those who have a loved one who battles an eating disorder, who is a friend of someone with an eating disorder, and also anyone visiting with someone who has an eating disorder.

From the anorexia/bulimic’s side of things, it’s hard enough managing our urges and it is also a struggle to continuously work toward recovery. For myself, it’s hard enough eating on a regular basis, let alone eating what I want. It’s also difficult being in my body while everyone on the outside, looking in perceives things differently. Part of an eating disorder is the extreme distorted perception to feelings, and literally the body. I’ve had friends who were very helpful and knew how to say the right things and how to handle me, but also have had parents or co-workers who did not understand the internal issues, and physical struggle. So — read ahead for some simple suggestions when interacting with us in recovery, attempting recovery, or even struggling.

1. Never touch our food without asking. Most of us are people pleasers anyway, so we will most likely offer you something to eat. If not, ask but don’t go touching our food. There are only certain things we eat, most of the time that are ‘safe’ and it only sets off uncomfortable alarms. We’re happy to feed you, but don’t touch without asking.

2. If you are sleeping over with a friend, or staying with someone then most likely you understand the issues or at least know that we have some sort of mental illness. Please don’t move things and then not put them back. It drives us control freaks wild, especially when we have OCD. Don’t comment on how our houses or living quarters look, we know. Sometimes we nest, other times we have to let things get messy as long as its not us.

3. Don’t comment on our physical appearance – no “you look so healthy” or ” you look so much better” — talk about what we are wearing, like ‘oh I like your outfit” or “your hair today”. When it comes to our physical bodies, we’re very scare, protective, and picky. We mentally hear something different no matter how nice you are trying to be. Just focus on material things and don’t say anything about our body shape, size, weight loss, weight gain.

4. Never comment on what we are eating, how much we are eating, how little we are eating. We are already self-criticizing and fighting to do okay with our behaviors. Instead, ask us is there anything else you would like? Or can I get you anything else?

If you have any further suggestions, that are helpful for people to know, feel free to post below in a comment.

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Why you keep coming back

One of the popular sayings I’ve heard in the rooms of AA is to “keep coming back” because you see what happens to people when they stop coming to meetings. I think the same can apply to individuals who stop trying to recover with their eating disorders and drug use, and they give up, returning once again, to a really sick and unwell status, mentally, emotionally and physically.

Since attending AA, I have come to find a few individuals who have stopped going to meetings and they relapse, go back out drinking. For many of them, they never return to AA in time and their relapse is fatal. For others, it takes a while but they come back, bruised, ashamed, and afraid. Us who work the program and are sober, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally grow, and although it is a sad and discouraging thing to witness, it serves as a tool in our own recovery.

We are reminded how dangerous addiction is and what happens when we stop abiding by our program. When we lessen our meetings, lessen our readings, prayer, lessen our ability to reach out and stop asking for help, honesty fades, addiction gets louder and has a firm grip on our hand, leading us back to a manipulation of disease.

We are also reminded how far we have come and our desire to drink, use, binge, purge, restrict, decreases. We don’t want to go back to being so sick, we fear death. We become insane again, risking our lives for that “fix” until we no longer have the ability to choose.

We become grateful for our program and realize that we don’t want to go back to our dark place, even if tempting at times, it’s not worth it and we are strengthened once again in our own recovery.

I have a friend who, like myself, is a cross-addict. She has a bad eating disorder, uses drugs, drinks and her self harm just started up again. It’s because she stopped going to meetings and stopped reaching out. She also, is a victim of extreme trauma and went through a difficult falling out with her treatment team. While I don’t blame her for her feelings, emotions, and discouragement, she seems to have given up and it’s sad. Because I have been struggling with my own eating disorder, and is has also gotten worse in the past few weeks, I am not at a bottom and I don’t want to let myself get to that bottom. I will NOT pick up a drink again, never will I touch drugs, and I am trying to get myself back on track.

It’s a hard thing to deal with, the fear of hearing someone is slowly dying, killing herself, and can’t find it in her to reach out and get serious once again, about her recovery. She’s had friends lecturing her, yelling at her, and the fact is, she has to want it bad enough, be willing to go to any lengths for her sobriety and recovery with ED. So readers, I ask that you keep my friend in your prayers. And also, take away a message from this, to keep going to meetings, keep reaching out, keep on with treatment and don’t give up.

Surviving in a situation you can’t escape

I’m not sure how to handle dealing with long-term perseverance. While I have come to love writing and journalism (that is my current profession) I also know where I want to be long-term from here and it’s a matter of patience and taking steps to do it.

It feels like an impossible journey to reach the other side, even though I can see the other side. It’s a matter of trusting that if I want it bad enough, I will make it happen. I have been stubborn most of my life, so I can use that to my advantage.

But here is where I am stuck. I have accepted, or have to consistently remind myself of acceptance that I work where I work right now. It is my job. It’s not the job itself, but the people. I feel so out-of-place, disliked, odd girl out, belittled and unimportant.

I feel replaceable. I haven’t said a work for over 30 minutes. I am not going to speak for another hour and a half. Silence is my cry, I guess. I don’t think it would be noticed anyway.

So here is where I need help, my followers and subscribers, readers and supporters:

When you are in a situation you are working to change but can’t in the minute, how do you push through without sacrificing your self-worth and inner feelings and confidence? How do you keep grounded and just not be pulled into a whirlpool of self-hatred because of how others make you feel at work. Let’s go! How do you stay a-float until the day is over, shift is done and it’s time to go home?

If your sponsor isn’t good enough for meetings, is he/she good enough for you?

I know this question can come across conceited or egotistical, but anyone who suffers from a mental disorder or addiction deserves the best help to recover. For myself, I never put my safety or interest first (or hardly ever). But this past month, I started putting my own recovery before others.

I don’t mean to come across as selfish but let me ask you something. If you knew someone was in an abusive relationship, verbally or physically, would you tell them to stay? If you were stranded or abandoned in the city by a friend, would you take off with a stranger or would you call for help? When does your own safety become a risk?

This is a question that I have been learned about for the past three years, but it was only recently that I began understanding and practicing this idea. In AA or NA, they always say “people, places, things” and for good reason.

Hanging around the wrong people can ruin your own morals. This I have learned since I was a little girl: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’

So I bring back the focus to individual recovery and choosing a path that will help you get to where you need to be.

At tonight’s meeting, someone shared about how his sponsor decided that he was too good for meetings and didn’t need them anymore. This individual then shared that he decided his sponsor wasn’t good enough for him. He is over 20 years sober, to this date.

If your sponsor is not around you, in touch with you frequently, reaching out to you daily, going to as many meetings as you are or even non-responsive at times. Hell, I will even throw out if your sponsor doesn’t even contact you on your sobriety anniversary date, are they really helping you?

You get out of any program, therapy or treatment what you put into it. I have been on the first step for the past month (which I am not complaining) but I have not been guided through it by my sponsor.

For the past month I was debating whether or not my sponsor was helping me enough. Was I getting the attention I needed? The support I needed? The guidance that I needed? Sadly, the answer is no.

My sponsor did not even contact me knowing that my 30 day anniversary was yesterday. I am not sore about this, but I am saddened. I’ve had this other mentor from AA who, a month ago, gladly offered to guide me through the steps. On Thursday, I asked her to take me through them.

She contacts me daily, gives me advice on how to begin the steps and will take me through. I see her at least once a week at one meeting, if not more. She responds when I have urges and she texted me on my anniversary yesterday wishing me a ‘Happy 30.’

So, I decided for myself that no, my sponsor was not good enough for me. Is she a wonderful woman? Of course. Do I value her friendship? Absolutely. But when it boils down to it, this is MY recovery, not hers.

I put myself first and now I am beginning to really dig into the dirt. I am finally moving forward through my own journey of recovery with a woman who is grounded and wants to refresh her own mind by taking me through.

I encourage anyone; if you feel that you are not getting what YOU need for YOUR recovery, take a good time to think about it. Set yourself a deadline for making a decision. I gave myself a few weeks and finally made the decision. After you decide, talk with other AA members and get some feedback in a non-gossip way. Even try talking with your sponsor about what YOU need. If it doesn’t work, find a back up plan and draw close to someone who reaches out to you repeatedly.

When you can finally find that person to guide you, you can continue through the program and process of growth. The key: To be honest with YOURSELF.

A little survival guide for outpatient treatment

After getting out some frustrations, I realized that one of the most important pieces of recovery is community and building up the strongest team possible. For those who need 24 hour support, you can’t always get it. You need to build your strength by building up your army.

For myself, I am such an wallflower. Ever since developing an eating disorder, I found myself diving into isolation and withdrawing from those who loved me and wanted to help. I always call this my “turtle-mode.”

With recovery, learning from my own set backs, for me it is impossible to get well on my own. When I learned this after pushing people away over and over again, I finally came to accept that I needed help. So I asked for it.

I began going to group as frequently as possible. For those of you without insurance (like myself for a very long time) there IS hope. ANAD is a free organization that provides group time without a charge. When I first graduated college I felt stuck because I was longing for that support and community that I didn’t have. I desperately began searching until I found a free group on Saturdays (which for the first time in a long time I am really looking forward to it).

There is power in numbers. It’s so hard to fight a strong and detrimental voice alone when it is your voice. The more people you have to help you change your words, the better.

I began filling my team with group. I began reaching out every single day, morning to night and it has helped immensely to not only know I am not alone, but also be able to help others, making my voice even stronger. I began attending AA meetings, not just because I was out of control with my drinking but because of the community and family I found in it. Hell, a drug is a drug is a drug be it food, alcohol, cutting or drugs. They are the symptoms, right?

Regardless, I began substituting “alcohol” with whatever my symptom use was (binging, purging, starving, cutting, etc.). I reached out to the group leaders, got a sponsor and also have my therapist who is a kick-ass on-call fighter.

I kept digging until I had so much support that when I am silent, it is recognized and people call or contact me. Reaching out, and building a line-up of fellow fighters, builds the strength to fight a violent inner voice.

  • So, if you are fighting for your life with all the resources you have, use them: -Find AA or NA home groups and get involved with other addicts, they’ll want you to be in touch and they’ll reach back out to you.
  • Find a free local eating disorder support group, one that is open and you can come and go as you please, but, please, make yourself go.
  • If you are in college, reach out to your health center and “be honest” as hard as it is or find a clinic with really cheap health care and dedicate to going frequently, every week.
  • Build up your support list and be in touch every day.
  • Find a free eating disorder mentor program-This means someone who will reach out and work with you since they are in a strong place in their recovery.

For me, having an eating disorder fills my head and time with shananigans. You are what you fill yourself with. The more time I fill with proactive steps in my recovery, the stronger I am fighting back.

I have a pretty damn good treatment team. My army will kick ED’s ass.