Experience Eating Disorder
Eating disorders are serious and often fatal illnesses that cause severe disturbances to a person’s life. The following text is by no means universal, this is my personal perspective, experience, things that worked for me, and things that did not help me.
My relationship with food
I understand that eating disorders are a difficult addiction to treat, as you need to establish a new relationship with your drug of choice, food. You can’t just cut yourself off from it. After 10+ years, I had to relearn what it means to eat, in a normal manner and I am still learning.
How and when it started
I stopped eating around the age of 13. I suffered from Anorexia nervosa from the age first and gradually shifted towards Bulimia nervosa at age 14.
When that happened, I continued eating hardly anything during the day and then made up for it in the evenings. I felt dirty, I purged, showered, brushed my teeth, and felt clean, in control, and reset.
Sometimes I would go through those binge-purge cycles multiple times a day. Sometimes weeks or even months would pass by where I did not purge at all. Until eventually, at age 26, I made the conscious decision to stop. Since then I might have had 5 backlashes.
What is it
People with anorexia severely reduce their food intake and people with bulimia eat an excessive amount of food in a short period of time, then purge. Alternatively, some start extreme exercise in order to regain control.
Many times people say this is all about being skinny, but it is – or at least was for me – a way of controlling and dealing with feelings of inadequacy and shame. Eating disorders to me revolve around deeper issues such as control, negative thoughts, traumatic experiences, etc.
Initial treatment – that did not work
- Getting told I have to eat.
- Being forced to eat.
- Therapists, I did not feel comfortable with. Men did not work, nor did settings that felt like I am in an institution.
- Getting told to take antidepressants. Never took them.
- Comments on my appearance.
- Accusations such as „you are making yourself sick“.
- Any added pressure.
- Eating plans.
Treatment – self-initiated
Many areas of the brain are affected by eating disorders, and this is reflected in the memory performance. I was already 30 when I decided to look deeper into the aftermath. Why? Because I had difficulties focusing and can’t remember big chunks of my past. I was tired of my weak body. I suffered from cognitive impairments and anemia. I got every cold that there was, and I did not perform in my career as I desired.
“In regard to mental health, individuals with eating disorders appear to have impairments in executive functioning, visual-spatial ability, divided and sustained attention, verbal functioning, learning, and memory.” — Suji M Lena
Reading Dr. Bruce Lipton’s “Biology of Belief” shifted my perception and made me understand how the environment affects our health. Memory is not only stored in the brain but every single cell of our body and some memory impairments found in individuals with eating disorders are clearly due to nutritional deficiencies. I was determined to get to the root of it all.
Learning about cell memory, I figured I have to look at this from more than one angle and if I heal the body, I can heal the trauma.
“ A person’s health isn’t generally a reflection of genes, but how their environment is influencing them. Genes are the direct cause of less than 1pc of diseases: 99pc is how we respond to the world.“ — Dr. Bruce Lipton
What worked for me
Someone I trusted that was neither friend nor family: In my case, this was my gynecologist Dr. Ehm, Innsbruck, Austria.
Looking at the root cause: Past trauma can cause a need for control, low self-esteem, and picking up unhealthy coping mechanisms such as eating disorders.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy: A Combination of talk therapy and behavioral modification techniques. My therapist was Abigail Peters, an Integrative Transpersonal Psychotherapist based in London.
Nutritional, holistic protocol: I started a 2-year treatment plan of the long-term consequences of malnutrition with Dr. Damien Downing in London.
Exercise and challenges: Starting yoga and an exercise regime helped me connect to my body. Lately, my brother challenged me to do Spartan races, and we also did skydiving together. His belief in me, had me surpass myself.
Limit the people to ask for opinions: I started to drastically limit the outside noise.
I learned to embrace self-care. Credit card glowing and all that, but it worked. To this day, this was the best investment made in my life, full stop.
How do you support someone?
I can not begin to imagine how my journey did affect by my parents or my brother. What I can say is this, that sometimes people are afraid or unable to ask for help, fearing judgment, left, right and center.
For me personally, things started to change, when I left my environment to study something I was passionate about, as well as finding a great gynecologist who made an effort to listen and gently guide me.
One more note on self-connection
People often described me as a floating balloon, hardly ever fully present and impossible to pin down. I learned to disconnect myself from my feelings and body as a survival strategy. This disconnectedness became my state of being for the majority of my life.
I learned to trust others more than myself. This makes you the perfect target for abusive behavior. Being fully present is the biggest obstacle I had and still have to overcome. The way to go for me is exercise and meditation, as well as practicing mindful action, rather than reaction.
Mindset is a set of beliefs that shape how you make sense of the world and yourself. The good news is, it can be actively changed.
- For example, people being so quick in judging you and pushing you down, are in a negative place. You do not have to take their negative vibes and criticism. How you feel is your choice.
- The past is only as big as we make it be.
- Self-talk really matters. Start paying attention to your words and thoughts. (Unintentional Thoughts & Intentional Thoughts)
LIST OF PEOPLE I WORKED AND WORK WITH
- Abigail Peters, Integrative Transpersonal Psychotherapist, English, London based, http://www.potentialcharisma.com/
- Jennifer Ho, Coach for Introverts, Vietnamese/English, Sacramento based, https://byjenniferho.carrd.co/
- Lourdes Belart, Kinesiology, Spanish/English, Mallorca based, http://bellaterracentre.com/
- Helena Dowling, dancer and personal trainer, London.
- Marcus Veda, yoga teacher, London.
- CrossFit Kroftlaggl, CrossFit center, Tirol, Austria
Let’s connect on LinkedIn and have a chat!