Do you remember what I said yesterday about depression being a co-morbid condition with anorexia? Well, anxiety is the same. Anxiety is not your everyday worry...it is much more. People with anxiety disorder get extremely nervous and worked up over what appears to be trivial things to others. They have real panic attacks, such as hyperventilating, sweating, heart palpitations, etc. But, in some cases, anxiety can manifest itself through other symptoms, such as simply being really worried about something.
I had extreme anxiety around food and weight. ED made me look at food and instantly begin to panic. Look at all that food! You are going to get fat. Imagine that food, sitting inside your gut, making you expand minute by minute. Making you look fat. Adding weight to your body. You must find a way not to eat. Whatever you do, whatever it takes, DO NOT EAT THE FOOD.
ED made me really anxious! I would look at the food and become afraid. I'd think of my weight and body and freak out. I wanted to run away. I'd look at the time and hear my stomach rumble - a sign that it wanted nourishment. And I would become anxious about how I would skip the next meal, how I would survive throughout the day if I did not eat anything. And, if I actually ate something - no matter how small it was - ED made me even more anxious.
You fool! You ate an apple! Why?! Could you not stand the stomach pains for the rest of the evening without stuffing your face? Think of how fat you will become! The weight that you will gain! You weakling!
And it went on and on. I could do nothing right. If I did not eat, I felt anxious because I was out of energy, but I had to appear strong in front of everyone else. If I ate, I had to withstand the torments of ED, criticizing me for eating. I was trapped.
Getting over anxiety is difficult. There are medications that can help, such as atypical neuropeptides (non addictive but slow-acting medications) or benzodiazepines (fast-acting but addictive medications). I never went on any of these, but I have heard great things about atypical neuropeptides helping those with anxiety disorder (note: I was never diagnosed with anxiety. If I had been, I would certainly have taken the medication to help me get better). In my case, simple but effective strategies helped me get over the worry. First, my mom taught me to take deep breaths. I know, I know. This sounds simple and funny. But, believe me, it WORKS. The next time you feel worried, stop and take a long deep breath. Stretch out your arms and expand your lungs. Yup, it sure feels good and relaxing!
Something I had to teach myself was to argue against ED, or to simply ignore him. If he was making me anxious before I ate, I distracted myself with homework, reading, watching a movie, etc. This way, I could drown out his voice. If he told me that I was going to gain weight and become fat, I made sure that I did not listen to his voice; rather, I kept myself busy with something at all times. Now, when I feel ED's voice getting louder and louder, I immediately get up and do something - anything. This keeps my mind far off from ED and immersed into something else.
Now, I can proudly say that my anxiety has decreased A LOT. Of course, there are things that I need to work on, like my worry before a test or each time I get weighed. But, it will take time.
One step at a time, I'm getting closer and closer to recovery. And if that means I have to keep busy all the time to shut ED out, I will do it.