No one can understand eating disorders as well as those who have been through the fire. And no one can see to the other side of the flame while they are standing in the middle of it. Hannah and I can testify that with the appropriate Eating Disorders Treatments, and Eating Disorders Programs recovery is entirely possible! Granted, there are a certain percentage of people who may still die, some who will struggle mightily for the rest of their lives, some who fight triggers now and then, but there are those, like Hannah, who can walk away from the fire and not look back. Part of the problem in recovery is not being able to let go of ED as one’s own identity. Just as sports heroes often see themselves largely as a sports hero, an Eating Disorder Victim doesn’t take long to grab being a VICTIM as their identity. As they surrender their own real selves to ED, their minds begin to fill with all kinds of psychological garbage that is NOT them.
They have forgotten HOW to make decisions–among the best eating disorders treatments, is to give them the power make them. It is HARD to let go of the victim inside. As a parent, family member, friend, or roommate, it is natural to want to rush in and tell them what to do–primarily “EAT”. It is better to hold on tight (in your heart) to the child or friend that you KNOW, but allow the PERSON the freedom she/he needs to figure out their real identity by making mistakes–sometimes big ones–and supporting them with love while they learn to stand again, thereby releasing the VICTIM. Remember to ask and pursue THEIR desires: What are they feeling about ‘xyz’?, what are some options to handling a situation? What would happen if….? (and go down EACH path outlined previously!) What would THEY like to do? And here is the hard part: Let them DO IT. If their choice turns out to be a bomb, you will be there NOT to tell them they should have chosen otherwise, or that you warned them, but to ASK THEM (and ask them honestly) how they felt about the outcome! Rather than say, “You should have…” consider saying, “What would you do next time you are in this predicament?” Then applaud their answer WHATEVER IT IS!
No one can own someone else’s victory–the victory that results from someone else’s choice; it keeps them bound to someone else’s compass. It IS hard to let the victim be independent; ironically, following the eating disorders treatments requirements, they remain a victim unless they are given the freedom to figure out who they are and what they want.
Eating disorders statistics show the extent of the problem. Understanding eating disorders, especially the psychological element and how societal and family dynamics can either help or hurt the victim is critical. Our intention with these eating disorders articles is to help educate those suffering from this epidemic.