Saturday, 29 June 2013

ED and OCD

It is thought that there may be a strong link between anorexia nervosa or other EDs and OCD. This comes from evidence that shows that many people with ED also suffer from OCD, such as hand washing, rituals, etc. For those of you who do not know, OCD is obsessive-compulsion disorder. Obsessions are things always on your mind, and a compulsion is something that you do to relieve that obsession. For example, hand washing: someone is scared of germs so they wash their hands so ofte  to the extent that their hands are dry and worn out. OCD is a serious illness, not just a simple problem.

The idea that ED and OCD are related comes from the evidence that people with ED become very rigid. They only eat certain foods, or do not eat at all. Others with ED actually have severe OCD. Now, I do not (and never have had) OCD, but I like this model from a research paper. It models that OCD and ED can be related because of the perfecionist thoughts. For example, my thought when sick was 'I need to lose weight'. This led me to diet and resrict, making sure to lose weight quickly. If I did not lose weight, I did not feel well. I needed to lose more and more. See the obsession? It becomes uncontrolled, however, as the patient gets sicker and sicker. ED does not stop. So the more I lost, the more I felt fat. I could not stop at XXXX pounds. I needed to be even less. And the next day, less was too much. I had to be even smaller.

Like OCD, treatment for ED is difficult. I am not going to go deep into treatement about OCD, because it differs for every patient depending on them and their condition. But, from the ED perspective, the best treatment for the illness is to break the cycle. The restricting needs to stop. The patient needs to understand why this cannot go on forever. A major issue that I had with ED is that no one in treatment tried to help me see that ED was foolish. I mean, they all told me that I would die if I did not stop starving, but no one really took the time to ask me why I restricted my food. It was only when I stopped to think about this that I realized what my real problem was.

For me, restricting had become kind of like an obsession. I HAD to not eat because I HAD to lose weight. I had to lose weight because ED was so strong. I was scared of becoming fat. And hearing 'you will not get far' did not help. But the more I got sick and the worse my future looked, the more I realized that I would die if this went on. I think the moment 'clicked' in my head when I felt that my life was done. I was starving and dying in the ICU. What did losing weight do for me? Nothing. I would not finish my degree and education, I would never do anything again. Heck, I might have even lost my life and never had the chance to see my family again. This hit me - and I realized that all this could be changed with FOOD and eating. Of course, this was easier said than done. Eating was a HUGE challenge. I was scared and horrified at the mere thought of putting food past by mouth. But the thought of dying was worse. It was time to break the 'prefectionist' cycle of starving and dieting.

When you think about ED, it becomes more clear why it is so hard to return to eating normally. I was eating so little and I was scared of food. I did not want to gain weight or eat. But at the same time, this was ruining my life. I KNEW it was bad for me, but I could not stop. Sounsd like an addiction or OCD, right? And what is the best treatment for something like OCD or an addiction? Getting the patient to realize that they need to stop because this problem can take away their life or have lasting effects. But no one could MAKE me do this. No matter how much people told me how I was going to die, it did not work until I realized that this was true. I needed to make the change. And one day in the ICU, I looked at my parents and felt terrible. I wanted to die because it was all too hard. Eating was hard, and not eating was killing me. Then I realized - I can always go back. If life without ED is bad, then I can always starve again. I needed to give life without ED a try. Like an experiment.

Now, a year later, I can say that life without ED is the BEST. Eating normally and not worrying about avoiding food is freedom. Not hearing my stomach rumble is bliss. Of course, there are parts about recovery that I do not exactly enjoy. Like eating when I'm full, or gaining weight. But when I remember how bad life with ED was, I know that I would never go back. When I try to help people with ED choose recovery, I tell them this too. You can always go back. ED is like a bad obsession. It is so hard to stop, to get out of your comfort zone and go against ED. In fact, it is likely the hardest thing you will ever do in your life. But it is the BEST decision you will make. You need to realize that ED becomes an obsession, like OCD. Obsession: staying thin. Compulsion: starve to lose weight. It FEELS good when you start to lose weight. But it soon becomes part of your life, something that is so hard to break away from. Soon, you realize that without losign weight, you would feel terrible. And that is how ED keeps his victims. He makes losing weight and starving a messed-up 'OCD'. Stupid, foolish ED is kind of smart that way. He KNOWS how to make people his slaves.

But there is hope. There is always hope. Recovery is possible, but hard. But anyone who has suffered from ED is strong. That is a fact. I am going to close this post with something that I thought of while recovering. It is a quote that I made up while recovering, and it really helps me when I feel terrible about eating...

 The only way to STARVE ED to death is to EAT my way through LIFE.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Published again on NEDIC!

WOW! One of my posts has been published yet again on NEDIC. http://www.nedic.ca/blog/?p=732#comments

This post is about not blaming the patient. We've talked about this before on this blog, and we noted how blaming the patient is unfair and unjust. It harms our society even more by making us think that people with mental illnesses are to blame for their troubles. What's more, this belief incorrectly identfies patients as being problematic. Instead, I believe that we need to realize that mental illnesses are real, serious, and that they are the cause of many factors. Blaming patients never helps, and with mental illnesses, this discourages victims frm getting help. We should, instead, care for these people and help them see that although they may have a mental illness (or even any problem at all!), they are not be to blamed. In addition, it is against the law to discriminate against anyone with any condiiton - whether that be a mental illness, a physical health condition, certain beliefs or values, etc.

So, this publication is for all those who have struggled with this. This is for people who have been called names because of their condition. It is for victims who have been told by others that they are useless or hopeless because of what they suffer from. I am sorry for your pain. But know that as society evolves and as people begin to speak out, things can and will change. Be confident in yourself and never let anyone bring you down. You are more than your mental or physical illness. In fact, I never say that I chose ED. ED chose me. I am not defined by my eating disorder; rather, I define myself by my experiences, my stregnths,  my joys, and my accomplishments.



Saturday, 22 June 2013

Another Anniversary!

One year ago on June 21, I was discharged from the hospital. I remember being thrilled that I was leaving (finally!), but I was also scared. What would happen next? Would my life actually return to normal again? My parents were scared that I would not do well outside the hospital, so they were worried that I would get sick again. And they had a right to feel this way, of course. I was not so sure myself if recovery would be possible.

I got out of the hospital with a plan: I was going to do well. But this was easier said than done. Eating was still very challening. I was on the waiting list for an inpatient ED progra,m, which I was not thrilled about. The first month at home was challening. It was full of fights with my parents about how much food was enough, how much I should weigh, who would weigh me, etc. It was not fun, to say the least. I was still in a phase where I did not really know what I had to do for my body. Then, a month later, I got called into the inpatient program. I have already written posts about that, so there is no need to be redunant. Suffice to say, I completed a month in the program until I felt that it was my time to go. I left the program knowing that I would do well outside because I was determined.

I have no regrets whatsoever. I am often asked if I wished that I entered the program before I got so sick and ended up in the ICU. To be honest, I do not think that I would have ever gone into the program for help if I had not gotten so sick. ED fooled me into thinking that I was fine, and I never really saw the what 'big deal' was about if I did not eat. Now, I am not reccomending this to others. Acutally, if you need help, I think that you should not wait. Get it now. But in my experience, I have no regrets. I know that God worked out everything for my good. Perhaps making me have the experience in the ICU showed me how bad my condition was, and it made me realize that I needed to eat and be healthy if I planned on living a happy life.

A year later, I am eating all my meals. I no longer fight with my parents about what to eat, because this is MY job. I know what to eat, how much, and when. I ask my parents for groceries, and sometimes, they make my meals for me. But there are no arguements, becaus I have taken the responsibility for my well-being. This is a BIG change from how life was before. In fact, now I can safely say that ED is almost gone. I rarely, if ever, get thoughts from ED. Of course, I still have days when I feel fat or ugly. But I don't have them often. And although I feel full after meals, I know that this too will take time. I am blessed to have survived such a hard journey and to have benefitted and learned from my experiences. It is amazing how much God can teach us through our hardships.

Think about a hard time that you have recently experienced. It probably felt terrible and scarey. But, if you can think about the outcome now, I am sure you will be able to find something good that came out of it. Maybe you became wiser, stronger, smarter, braver, or kinder. Maybe you learned something new. Or maybe you helped others through your experience. My dad always tells me that tough times never last. And my mom always tells me that what does not break you makes you stronger. They are indeed right. These two phrases are words to live by - I am proof of that.

PS: I have added something new to my blog to help readers follow it! If you would like to be notified by email each time I add a new post, simlpy add your email to the buttom of the page where it says 'subscribe my email'. This will keep you updated and help you get the most of your reading experience!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Happy Fathers' Day!

Happy Father's Day to everyone out there who is a father, brother, husband, fiance, friend, granfather, uncle, etc! This is the day when we celebrate YOU! (I know this is a bit late, but still!)

I want to take this day to say a special message to my own father. Dad, you are amazing. I love you so much. You are always by my side and you support me no matter what. You have always believed in me and you never let anyone hurt or discouarge me. You always encouarge me to follow my dreams and to go for what I want. You are a strong man - inside and out. Your love for us is amazing and your ability to see the positive in every situation is admirable. You were always by my side when I was ill in the ICU, making sure that I was taken care of. As an adult, you inspire me to learn all that I can and to do my best. You have never pushed me to do anything, and you always support us. You work so hard for all of us and you have shown me that no one has the right to tell me that I am not good enough. You play a major role in my recovery because you continue to believe that I am strong and that I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to. Your dedication to your job and to your family is beyond honourable and your love for everyone is beautiful. You are the most admirable man in the world. I could not ask for a better friend or father than what God has blessed me with. Daddy, no matter how old I get, I will always be your little girl. I enjoy spending time with you and each day I see you, I realize how blessed I am to have you in my life. Thank you for believing in me, and for showing me that I have the ability to do wonderful things. You are the best doctor in the world, and I see this when I hear of all the amazing things your patients say about you. I truly believe that no one is able to understand just how hard you work to ensure that everyone you deal with is comfortable, safe, and happy. Daddy, you are my knight in shining armour. I know that there is no man in the entire world that can love me the way you do. Thank you , baba, for being my father, my friend.

Please take the time today to tell the dads out there how much they mean to us!

Friday, 14 June 2013

My post was chosen!!!

One of the pirests in my church community has an amazing and inspirational blog. His name is Fr. Anthony Messeh - I encourage everyone to read it. It is a spiriitual blog, but it certainly does not speak to those who are Christian only. His words and thoughts are very clear, touching, and informational. You can find my post, as well as his blog, here: http://franthony.com/2013/06/with-god-all-things-are-possible/.

He recetnly posted saying that he was going to start accepting guest posts every Friday, so my sister approach me and told me to try out for it. With her encouargment, I decided to. I wrote a piece about my journey with ED last year in the ICU and how my family and friends never left my side. Writing this reminded me of how wonderful God is, and how supportive my community was. But, to be honest, I never thought that Fr. Anthony would get back to me and approve it. I felt that my writing was not good - that it was not worthy to be posted on someone else's website. Besides, Fr. Anthony (on his site) says that not all posts will be published because it is impossible to post what everyone gives him. He also says that only posts with certain messages and a meaning for others will be posted because they are meant to help, inspire, or teach others. When I read this, I definitely thought that mine would not be chosen. I felt that despite my story, it probably would not be good enough. So, I forgot about it. Then, three days later, I got an email from Fr. Anthony. He told me that my post was chosen to be posted on his site, and he also asked me to be avilable to respond to any comments on the blog.

WOW. Suffice to say, I was shocked and thrilled at the same time. My piece was chosen - out of hundreds, maybe thousands (?) - to be posted on his site? Really? It was good enough? He wanted others to read my story and he wanted me to reply to readers? I am honoured. I could not believe it. Glory to God!

So, I hope that you enjoy this post on his blog. I know that without the love and support of all my family members, friends, community members, and blog readers, this would not have been posssible. THANK YOU to everyone who continues to show their love and support for me. In just one year, my blog has received an Award nomination, I have been published several times on NEDIC, I have been published on FEAST, and now this. To add, my blog gets thousands of views a day from people all around the world. I am in recovery, going strong. I am living my life and doing everything that I have ever wanted to do, free from ED's control. What is even more important is that this blog has truly become a place where people can learn information, share their stories and get supoort, and not feel ashamed or angry at whatever life throws their way. When I started this blog a year ago, I never would have thought that this would happen. God truly works for good, for those who believe and trust in Him (Romans 8:28). What a difference a year makes.



Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Wear a corset, shrink your waist, hurt your body

I was reading the news the other day, when I came across this:
http://ca.m.yahoo.com/w/ygo-frontpage/lp/story/ca/1581913/coke.bp%3B_ylt=Ag8e0OWR4SXJdBWFYPDgrW.x.tw4%3B_ylu=X3oDMTF1MDJsOTlzBGNwb3MDMjIEY3NlYwNtb2JpbGUtdGQEaW50bANjYQRwa2cDaWQtMTU4MTkxMwRwb3MDMjIEc2xrA2ltYWdl?ref_w=frontdoors&view=today&.intl=ca&.lang=en-ca&.tsrc=yahoo

Basically, this story is about a young lady who decided that it would be interesting and somewhat helpful if she wore a corset (day and night) for three years. As a result, her waistline has become VERY tiny, to an unhealthy state. She states that now it is like an addiction - that she cannot simply stop wearing it because she is scared of becoming fat. On top of that, she says that she is happier now that she is so small, becaue she feels beautiful and in control.

Are the red lights flashing in your head by now? They were in mine! Does this not sound like a major problem, possibly ED? I found this sad, to be honest. First, why on earth is this on the news? Is this something to be proud of - that a young woman is killing herself in order to be thin? What kind of message is this sending out? That people should try this 'cheap' way to become thin or to change their bodies? I am horrified that this was in the news as a story.

I am saddened by the fact that society today feels that it is alright (and normal!) to do such horrific things to one's body in the drive to attain 'beauty' or thinness. When I was ill, I was not proud of it. I wanted to keep it a secret because I was ashamed. Only after I began recovery can I now talk about it freely, because I feel as though I have something to share in order to help others. But this? Telling people how to manipulate your body in unhealthy ways? This is simply unacceptable. To add to this,  the media is playing on our emotions. The media, through this story, is trying to tell people that if they do things like this lady, they can achieve the 'ideal' body without spending money, going on diets, eating certain foods, etc....

Want to know the secret to a healthy body? Here is it: MODERATION! I know that this is said often, but that is because it is true. When I was so thin, I gained weight when I started eating again because my body was starving and desperate to keep food in. Now that I am at a healthy weight, it no longer keeps gaining. Rather, I am maintaining my weight. I am eating what my body needs, excercising the right amount, and living happily. That is the secret to healthiness. No amount of unhealthy habits like wearing a corset for your entire life will make you live a healthy and happy life. Health and happiness go together - if one is missing, the other is, too.

I'm praying for the girl in this story, because I know that she can not be happy with the way she is living now. She is sadly trapped in a world where she believes that to be happy, she must wear this corset to keep her waist thin. But she is wrong. And she is unhealthy. She is also unhappy - if you read the article, she says that she 'cannot imagine her life without wearing the corset'. Is this happiness? Being addicted to wearing an article of clothing because of fear that one will gain weight? No. Please remember her, and other sufferers, in your prayers. They are addicted to a disease that is difficult to beat, especially with the way our society is today.

What's the message we learn from this? The media sucks. Seriously. This kind od story does not deserve to be in the news so that people can 'learn' unhealhy habits; rather, this girl should be sent to get treatment for her sad and deadly mental illness or issue. The media should focus on stories of hope, like people recovering from ED or other important stories around the world. To us, this reminds us of the type of world we live in - a world where people think it is okay to hurt your body just to look thin or to achieve an unhealthy body size or image. Don't fall prey into these kind of traps. Be media-smart, and pray for those who are ill.

*Deep breath*. I'm done my soap box now.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

'But aren't you worried that people will KNOW?'

Many people have asked me similar questions: 'how can you openly speak about your ED?' or 'aren't you scared that people will know about you having ED and judge you'.' Others ask, 'what if people do not give you a job because of your history with ED?'. So, I will start answering them!

1) I can speak openly about ED because I am not ashamed of it. I no longer am sick and am working my way through a solid recovery. I speak about it because so many others are scared to do so. EDs, like other mental illnesses, have so much stigma attached to them. And this should not be the case. Any illness is not someone's fault. It bothers me when people are scared to speak about mental illnesses because this reflects all the sterotypical stigma associated with them. I am frustrated with the lack of understanding and empathy that people have towards illnesses. Moreover, many people do not know about ED. They know that anorexia is, for example, but they do not know how serious/harmful/painful it is. I want to help raise awareness. I want the world to know that ED is a real, serious illness. Along with this, I want to give people hope that recovery is possible. That ED is not the end of your life. By speaking about it openly, I hope to give people strength and courage to continue their fight, or to help others fight.

2) If people judge me because of my history with ED, then they have the problem, not me. Like I said, ED is a mental illness. I am recovering, and that is all that counts. Any person is vulnerable to becoming ill, just like I was. If someone were to judge me for my illness, they are not worth my time. It also means that they are simply too immature to understand that any disease is a serious matter, and the patient should never be blamed. My history with ED does not make me weak; it makes me stronger. It shows the world that I have endured my battles and have come out as a winner. People who judge me because of my history with ED do not understand that my journey has made me a stronger and wiser person. Moreover, people are never happy with us. They will never truly be pleased - some people will ALWAYS find something wrong with you, regardless of what it is. My place on earth is not to please others, but to glorify God in what I do. I believe that my journey with ED has helped me help others, raise awareness, and thank God for His mercy with me.

3) This relates to the first two, but I will elaborate anyways. Yes, I am a nursing student, soon to be a nurse. And YES, I had an eating disorder. So what? I became sick, just like anyone else could have. I am no longer symptomatic, and I am healthy. I am also a stronger person. My experiences with ED made me realize how much help people need, especially patients who are ill. This has taught me that patients need empathy, good care, and hope. That is what a good nurse does. I can now empathize with patients more, and I understand the value of good, compassioante nursing care. I am healthy and able to work, just like any other nurse. My history with ED actually gives me an advanatge because I now understand what kind of care patients need. I also have a beter understanding of how serious mental health issues are, and I can now help patients with this. I am a better nurse, person, and student because of my experiences with ED.

So, while people make look at my history with ED as a weakness, I view it as a strength. People who judge others because of their history, illnesses, or weaknesses do this wrongly and injustly. It is time we look past these supericial things and realize that we are stronger because of our experieces and illnesses.

'My grace is sufficient for you: for My strength is made perfect in weakness' (2 Coritnhians 12:9).

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Self Harm

A few people have asked me to write about self-harm, so I'm going to take a stab (haha, get the pun...okay, but seriously. This is a serious topic) at it. I have never self-harmed, but I think I can really relate to it because of my experiences wtith ED. Please let me know if this post makes sense and if it helps.

Self-harm is a serious problem. Many people think that those who self-harm have serious, major issues. Whty would you purposely hurt yourself? Well, there ia lot going in with people who self-harm. I'll start with an ED perspective. Why would I want to purposely starve myself? Didn't I KNOW that not eating would eventually hurt me and kill me? OF COURSE I DID. But I could not stop restricting. It had become like a habit, similar to an addiction. Perhaps I knew that I was hurting my body, but restricting became something that somehow made things easier for me. Let me explain...

When I felt bad, I just ate less. If I was having a bad day and nothing was going right, restricting amde me feel strong. Maybe I could do nothing right, but I COULD not eat. There. That was somehing under my control, something that I could do. And it reallt did make me feel better. I forgot about everything else as I starved. And when I starved, evrything else became easier to deal with. Try not eating for days and days (don't try it, I'm just trying to paint a picture in your mind). How would you feel? Tired. Starving. Stomach pains. Dizzy. Nothing compares to those feelings. So, everything else - stress, homework, people - all those problems become minimal compared to the feeling of starvation.

With self-harm (perhaps cutting), the same thing occurs. It becomes a way of dealing with things. Bad day? Cut. Can't deal with all the craziness in life? Cut. It is similar to an addiction, similar to ED. And once the person begins, they acutally do feel better, Why? Chemicals caled neurotrasnmitters and hormones. Remember how I wrote a while back about how starvation makes the anorexic body produce endorphins, the pain-relieving hormones? Studies show that cutting might do the same to someone who self-harms. (See http://cdp.sagepub.com/content/18/2/78.short). So, someone who cuts may acutally feel 'good' once they cut. It is like a sense of relief.

There are also people who self-harm as a way of punshing themselves. Again, I can relate this to my experiences with ED. I felt so bad about myself - the way I looked, my body, my personality, etc. So, starving myself was punishment for this. I did not deserve to eat like everyone else. I needed to starve to punish myself for being so fat and ugly. Those who self-harm might feel the same. Some do not like how they look, act, etc. So self-harm becomes 'punishment' for this. And sicne now we know that it might acutally make their brains feel better, the person becomes trapped in a never-ending cycle.

Treatment for self-harm is very difficult. Like any addiction or problem it will take time. I'm not a doctor, but I certainly think that someone who self-harms should see a psychiatristand/or doctor. And then the hard, real work comes. You need to STOP. Realize that self-harming is just that: hurting your self, your body. Cutting might make you feel good or take away your anxiety, but it does not take away your problems. Bleeding will not make hard tests go away. It will not change the way you feel about yourself. You need to discover why you cut and learn that these are problerms you need to work on. For example, maybe you cut because you hate yourself. Why do you hate yourself? Do you need to improve your self-esteem? Do you need to learn to love your body?

It is so hard. I know. Stopping the restriction and eating again was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. It acutally HURT me to eat again. I cried, I screamed. I did NOT want to eat, for heaven's sake! Why didn't anyone understand? I LIKED NOT EATING. IT WAS EASIER AND IT MADE ME FEEL GOOD! But in reality, it was hurting my body and slowly killing me. And it was such a terrible habit, an addiction. It took the full support of my family, friends, and church to make it through. I did it gradually. I could not go from eating nothing to eating a 12-course meal in one day. But I did increase my eating, even though I did not want to. But I knew that it was the right thing to do. What my body and health needed.

Same goes with cutting or self-harm. STOP! I know it is hard. Believe me, I know. But you are only hurting yourself. Literally and metamorphically. The cuts are hurting yout body, but they arr also making your problem worse. See a medical team for help. They might start therapy with you, and maybe you will need to be hospitalized. It depends on how severe your illness. By the way, it is an illness. Cutting or self-harm is NOT your fault nor does it make you stupid or problmatic. It just means that you suffer from an illness and you deserve to get all the help possible. Recovering from self-harm is possible. It will be hard, no doubr. But you CAN do it. I went from eating almost nothing a day to eating five or six times (and enough) a day. I went from fleeing from food to chewing my meals. I went from severely underweight to weight restored. I went from near death to life again. It is totally possible.

To those who are religious, cutting or self-harm is hurting the body and gift that God gave you. "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Thus, you need to care for this body. God dwells in it and He does not want you to hurt it. You are so precious to God. You are beautiful and special in His loving eyes. Do not hurt yourself by hurting your body. It is hurting God as well.

I hope this helped those who are suffering wtih self-harm, or any other addiction. Part of the wark I di here and with NEDIC is being able to talk to people about many problems, not just ED. And the more I write and speak out, the more I realize that many illnesses, addictions, and problems are related. ED, self-harm, depression, anxiety, OCD, etc. They are NOT our faults, yet they need treatment and help, Anyone who suffers deserves to get help. Help and support is available. But you have to take the first step - the hardest step. It sounds cliche, but it is the truth. Realize and admit that you have a problem. And even though now you might not want to get better or stop the bad habit, somewhere deep inside you, you know that you should stop. You know that you have to get better. And you are not alone. There will be always be people to help you, to support you. And for those who believe in God as I do, God is always there. He is always there to strengthen you, to bring you out of hard times.

"The pain that you have been feeling can not compare to the joy that is coming" (Romans 8:18).

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Exposure 'therapy'

You have porbably heard that the more you do something, the more it becomes a habit. People say different things - some say it takes 21 days (3 weeks), some say a few months, and others say a year. However long it takes, it is well-known that things become a habit if you do them more often.

I want to talk about this 'habit-forming' process in terms of thinking and mood, but that is for another post. What this post will talk about is how ED and exposure therapy (or habits) are related.

When I was sick, it was a habit not to eat. At first, this was really hard. I was hungry all the time and my stomach hurt so much. But each day, it got 'easier'. I became less hungry and I stopped thinking about the food that I so desperately missed. Thus, restricting became a habit, and so did my excuses for not eating. 'I am not hungry', 'I ate already', 'I don't like that food', etc. Strangely enough, these are the same phrases that most people with ED say. This suggests that people who are predisposed to ED actually have something similar in that their bodies eventually adapt to the lack of food, turn of their hunger signals (remember the leptin theory?!), and thus, the person loses weight and becomes very ill with ED. So, how does one recover with ED, if their body is attuned to not eating? If my leptin is so high that I never feel hungry, how in the world am I supposed to force myself to eat when I do not want to?! How am I expected to face my worst fears - food, and lots of it - and get myself healthy again?

Think of what you fear most. Spiders, a person, an event, snakes, whatever. Now imagine facing that situation five or six times a day. Scarey, right? This is what I do everyday. I face food in abundant amounts. And I have to eat. It is frightening. But now it is a bit easier. Why?

Habit-forming is the answer. The more you do something, the more you get used to it. Researchers have indeed found that 'exposure' therapy may help those with ED (see http://journals.lww.com/practicalpsychiatry/Abstract/2007/07000/The_Application_of_Exposure_Therapy_and.4.aspx)

Let me make it easier to understand: when I first started recovery, it was so hard. I was so scared of the food - of any food. And now I had to eat many times a day. How? Exposre. Habit-forming. The more frequently I ate and day after day, it slowly became easier. The first time I fed myself, I was terrified. I cried. I screamed. Literally. I am not kidding. I was hysterical. But, each day after, it slowly (and VERY SLOWLY!) became simpler. Breakfast? Not a problem. Make breakfast, grab a book to read, and eat. Done. Lunch? Same thing. Dinner? Repeat. And the next day, the exposure continued.

I am now at the point when eating is no problem. I know when I need to eat and what I need to eat, and I do it. I'm still struggling though, to be perfectly honest. Sometimes I'm frustrated because I have to eat even when not hungry. Other times I feel so fat that I do not want to put anything past my lips. But I know that I need to build this habit. I need to get my body and brain used to eating again. It's like training a puppy - if you practice with it over and over again, it will learn tricks and manners.

So, there is hope for those with ED. Eating really does get easier. I am proof of it. You CAN do it. The same goes with those without ED. If you have a habit that you really need to learn, expose yourself to it and make it constant in your life. Perhaps you need to wake up at the same each day. Then set your alarm and make yourself get up when it rings. It will become easier. Or perhaps you need to clean your room more often. Force yourself to do it weekly, and soon, it will be no problem. Try this experiment on yourself with something you want to learn to do (or a habit you need to form). It really does work.

So, ED, I outsmarted you again! It's interesting how ED can be so strong, but we are stronger. Faith, patience, strength, support, and determination. Recovering from ED is possible, one bite at a time.