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.

57 comments:

  1. Marina ,you are right
    This excatly happened to me.I remeber when I was very sick with ED,I had strong obessession with food ,my weight ,my body image and self control then this forcifully and strongly led me to restrict and overexcercise .
    Even strat with obessive thoughts that I now dismiss it ,that time I acted on it and I yielded to it and so got sicker.

    Good news after recovery ,I am not obessessed with any negatives and I am positively pushing my self to the healthy side
    I love this post


    Recovered ED victim

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    1. Thank you! I am glad to hear that you too have been through similar things - it goes to show us how ED is real, yet can very well be treated and helped! God bless you!

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  2. I agree there is significant association between OCD and ED.
    If ED is bad ,OCD even worse ,how about both !!!

    Sominka

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    1. You are right Sominika - they are both serious!

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  3. Can you have obsession without compulsion and vice versa.??


    Do all people with OCD,have ED??

    Just a question Marina


    Nanaraj

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    1. Nanaraj, it is a good question! You can have an obsession without compulsions - but this would not be diagnosed as OCD. On the other hand, not all people with OCD have ED, and not everyone with ED has OCD.

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  4. My OCD is only from contamination .I do not shake hands with people even if they do not look sick and this has created a social problem with my all boy friends and now I have no BF.
    Is there any solution?
    By the way I do not have Ed and I I eat very well

    Maritza

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    1. Maritza, there is always a solution! I am sorry you have suffered from this issue. I'm not an expert, but I know that if you can find/afford it, there are therpaists/trained experts who can help. If not, I would suggest you try systematic desensitization - this is when you slowly expose yourself to your fear until it becomes manageable. For example, firsdt try to touch something that someone else touched. Then after a few days try just putting your hand on someone's hand. Then shake hands for a second. Then for a bit longer. It is hard and you will not like it, but I can almost guaratee that it will work.

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  5. I had a friend with OCD and used not shake hands,or hug others and I had to terminate the relationship even he was very nice and successful guy,.

    Jenn

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    1. Jenn, it is sad that this affects people's lives this strongly. Please know that he likely did not mean to bother you, he was just ill. I pray that he finds help and comfort.

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  6. Yes Marina
    I was diagnosed with ED,restrictive type and OCD and GAD and BPD.
    My family and friends know that I am extremesit in my views and have either white or black never gery
    I was described by some as perfectionsitic.

    Now in my recovery ,I still may have some symtoms but I am in control and I am able to manage without restricting my meals.
    My meals for me now is my regular medicine but I start to enjoy my meals and to look forward for my meal time.
    When I was deep in ED ,all in my head is the obssession of ED demands (now I believe ED is a lier and I do not need to hear this from others )


    Anne
    after recovery and back to family home and life .

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    1. Anne - I was thinking about you the other day! You have gone through so much but look at how strong you are now! You are certainly brave! I know that while you may have symptoms now (it is still very early in recovery), you aer able to control them and get help when you need it. I am happy you are starting to enjoy recovery and see how amazing it can be! Great job and God bless!

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    2. Thanks Marina for your reply and encouragement. You know that is for sure without you kicking my first step, I would be have been either very ill or dead by now.
      I want to tell you, I really started to feel the difference between being ill and having no idea that you are very ill and between recovery and feeling well even when you feel tired and exhausted.
      Really Marina ,I did not know that I was very sick till I started journey of recovery.
      I am blessed to have you as a friend.

      Anne

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  7. I have obessession about some people but not foods.

    Anastashia

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    1. Anasthia, like I said, OCD is not about food - unless it is related to an ED. I am sorry you are suffering and pray that you find help and comfort.

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  8. If I got it right from this post"""""
    The key for your recovery was when you realized for sure that ED is killing you,you realized that you needed to make the change
    AND YOU DID MAKE ALL THE NECCESSARY CHANGES
    If all OCDs and addicts do the same ,will be able to cure themselves.

    Sandra D

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    1. Sandram you are right. While I made this decision for myself, it was so hard and not everyone can do it. I suffered for a long time and even when I chose recovery it took me a while to get used to it and stick to it. It is not always this easy - I make it sound easier sometimes than it really was. But, it is possible and you are right - the first step is choosing to get better!

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  9. Good post but the best of it is what you declared LIFE WITHOUT ED is the BEST.

    Hopefull all ED victim realize this.

    Johina

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    1. Johina, thank you! You are so kind. God bless you.

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  10. No one can say it better
    The best way to starve ED to death is through eating your way to life.

    ReplyDelete
  11. While I was alcoholic ,the one thing that I was looking forward was alcohol only,nothing else,no care for food,money ,wife ,kids,job .
    Since I decided enough is enough and made the change my self,Now I will not tase or smell alcoholeven a sip.
    I was obssessed and possessed by alcohol ,now I am free

    Carlos

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    1. Carlos, your story is so touching. You are so strong. I understand how alcohol can be like OCD in that you feel compelled to drink. But look at you today - free! Congrats! What an inspiring story! God bless!

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  12. This means when We are free from ED control ,We also free from the obssession as well and not compulsed to do foolish and stupid things ED demands victims to do .


    Gerry

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    1. Exactly Gerry! When you realize that ED/addictions are taking over your life, you see that you are not free and that you never truly live a happy life!

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  13. Do you think addiction can be easily treated .I can say I am addicted to hashish and I have to smoke daily to calm my nerves.

    Doug Soul

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    1. Doug, addictions can certainly be treated! If you can, see a doctor/therapist who can help you (but only once you are medically stable - that is the most important thing). THen, you need to take the steps to get hahish out of your life. Stop associating with people or places that remind you of your addiction and that encourage you to continue in it. Get support frm people who care about you and who are willing to help you overcome this. God bless you. Let us know how we can help.

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  14. I hate obssession,it is destructive and distracting.
    Let us focus on our issue and kick any obssession.

    Helena

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  15. I am compulsed to snif several times daily but I have no obssession,is there a medical condition similar to this??

    Vishal

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    1. Vishal, this may be an addiction. If you can, get expert help. It may be dangerous. I'm not sure what exactly you are doing, but again, I am not a medical expert and cannot help you compltely.WHat i can tell you is that everything is managaeable if you believe that you need and deserve help. God bless you. Let us know how we can help.

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  16. I hate ED,OCD and I wish no susch a thing like those bother us in our life .
    Why on earth people have to suffer


    Hanson

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    1. Hanson, I agree! it is terrible that we must suffer, but is it not amazing how we can make a come back and live happily and healthy aftter choosing recovery?!

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  17. I am obssessed with my fingers and I am compulsed to crack them.How can I stop

    Gulshan

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    1. Gushan, there is a way to help you! You have to take small steps to do this: first, when you want to crack them, stop and think about it. Then keep your hand busy with somethibg else - draw, write, cook, read, whatever! If you must crack them, then only crack (for example) once a day. Take small steps to stop and day by day, it will be eaiser! God bless you. Let us know how we can help.

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  18. Obssession is from devil,let us pray and kick any obssession away.

    Mobayed

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    1. Mobayed, we need to help ourselves and others get over obessions becaues they can harm us in many different ways!

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    2. I am learning to think positively and only positive. I realized now that negatives come from my brain obsessive negative thinking.
      From now on I decided ,change ,do something better than nothing and I do little bit at a time.
      Over the long week end, I read most of your blog Marina
      You made a difference in your and others life.

      Thanks again

      Mobayed

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  19. I am very happy to read that OCD and addictions are curable.I know few friends suffers from those.

    Clorado

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    1. Clorado, this is great news to share with others- there is hope!

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  20. I hope We can treat addition that is spreading now in our society like crazy

    Blanchette

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    1. Blanchette, you are right - this is sadly common in today;s world, but there is hope that we can recover!

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  21. Why don't We raise the awareness about addiction and OCD through this respected blog

    Seto

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    1. Thank you Seto! My hope is that my blog does raise awareness and give people hope that recovery and getting help is possible!

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  22. I am very impressed with this post as my daughter has OCD and this is very uncomfortable to her and annoying all of us as a family.
    I am glad to hear from you,it can be treated


    Sheila Kitson

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    1. Sheila, I am sorry your daughter suffers, I know it can be uncomfortable and hard. But, like you mentioned, it can be treated and help is available! God bless you. Let us know how we can help.

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    2. Marina
      You are helping much more than her doctor trust me.
      Thanks Marina

      Sheila

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  23. I am praying and hoping for a cure for all mental health illnesses.They do hurt but as Marina said cure is possible

    Sundeep

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    1. Sundeep, that is touching that you are praying for sufferers like that. Thank you. Cure is possible!

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    2. That is what I can do ,to pray ,however look at you ,how much you are doing. May God bless you.
      To be honest I did not expect you to reply to my comment.

      Sundeep

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  24. This post makes a lot of sense to me

    Hamza

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    1. Hamza, I am glad it made sense! Thanks! God bless.

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  25. It me who needs to thank you.

    Hamza

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  26. I’m so confused right now. I may be staying afloat. But I’m spinning wildly in whatever current drags me in. I’m not okay enough to know if I’m okay. I know it sounds stupid but I haven’t gone this long without therapy in a really long time and I am not well enough to clarify if my thoughts and ideas are rational or completely off the wall and need to be abandoned immediately.

    My eating disorder is definitely hanging around trying to get at me…so is self harm…and so is just good old style depression. Nothing scary has happened yet but I’m still scared because it feels like it could at ANY moment.

    I’m scared more than anything I guess.

    <3 Amy

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    1. Hi Amy, welcome. I'm sorry that you are suffering like this. I'm not an expert or a physician but I think that you need to go to therapy - you said that you have not been there for a while. Did therapy help you keep on track and make you feel better? If yes, maybe that is what you need to go back to doing. For now, how can I help?
      I also want to say that I know how you feel. For a while, ED hung around in my life and I did not feel 'sick enough' to have a problem, but I also knew that I was ill. And for a long time, I was scared that one day something would just happen to me - I would die or my heart would stop. It is scarey becuse sadly, it can happen. I feel that you need help. Can you ask someone to help you? If you are ill, can you see a doctor or get to the emergency room? It is not easy, I know. And you might not like it very much either. But you need help. You cannot live like this forever! Please choose to get help - you will feel a big difference in your life, your feelings, and your happiness. God bless you. I pray that you find the strength within you to get help and kick ED out the door. My heart is with you.

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    2. Amy
      Please listen to Marina and go quickly and get some help and support sooner than later. As Marina said may be the difficult decision to make now as ED is pushing you back but please try .I pray for you

      Vincent

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  27. Reading your blog is pushing me towards positives and so making me feel serene and optimistic.
    I agree with Hamza ,positives are contagious and your positivity is motivating others to make the necessary changes.
    We all have to be united in one voice and tell ED and his obsessive power "back off"

    Carmina

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  28. I need to do all what you said to make sure I am completely cured from my obsession about my hair(I used to comb my hair every few minutes even sometimes at my school and in front of my teachers and I had obsession with my door locks and I had to repeatedly check the lock.
    You are right this obsession very silly but is CURABLE .
    I will finish it off and from today on no way this can be any thing that deserve one minute of my thinking or my time ..
    Thanks Marina for addressing this OCD issue .Yes it is common that I thought


    Kapoor

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