Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Listening and Responding to Emotions

I'm blessed to have people in my life who are always ready to listen to me. I have days when I'm tired and angry, and all I want to do is scream. It's nice to know that there are people there who can lend a listening ear. What's important to me is not that this person gives me a solution - sometimes all we need is someone to listen to how we feel. These are some of the things that I find helpful. Let me know if they are helpful for you as well!

1) when I feel 'fat'. If someone I know tells me that I have not gained weight, I'll stare at them because I know they are not telling the truth. I have gained weight (a lot) and I know it's obvious. So telling me that I don't look like it will only make things worse. What WILL help is for the person to listen. I want them to know that this feeling is very real. I feel fat and big and ugly. That's part of my illness. It bothers me because it makes me feel like a failure. What would help is for the person to understand that feeling fat (to me) is distressing and angering. I need that person to know that even if I don't look fat, I feel that way. What is helpful is for the person to say 'yes, you gained weight. But you are not fat or overweight. If you were, I would be honest and tell you because I care. I would not tell you you weren't overweight if you really were. I would tell the truth'.

2) when I feel sad. Sometimes I'm tired, sad, and frustrated. I get so busy with all my work and recovery that I'm irritable. At times like this, I want someone to understand how hard my life is. Yes, some people have worse conditions, but I've been through quite a lot. I don't always want to hear 'it will get better'. Sometimes, I want to hear 'I know that you have so much on your mind right now. And I can't even imagine how tired and sad you must feel. If I can help with anything let me know. If not, I'll pray for you. We all have days when we feel irritable or tired - this is normal. You have the right to feel this way. But remember, you are able to do whatever you put your mind to. Right now things may seem tough, but I know how capable you are of achieving things. For now, express how you feel and let me know if I can help. But I will give you your space'.

3) when I'm not hungry and I'm tired and frustrated with recovery. These are the hardest times because I'm full and I don't want to put anything into my mouth. But I know that I should eat, even if its something small. Sometimes it's helpful to tell someone how tired I am of eating all the time when I don't feel like it. But I don't like it when all I get for an answer is 'well, you are recovering from ED. Remember that!'  Not helpful at all. What IS helpful is something like: 'no one can make you eat. If you don't want to eat then you don't have to'. WARNING! THIS DOES NOT WORK FOR EVERYONE! The only reason this works for me is because I am at the place in recovery where I can make myself eat, even if I really don't want to. When someone reminds me that no one can make me eat, I reflect and remember that recovery is for me - not for anyone else. If I don't eat, I will get tired and maybe end up in the hospital. I will suffer - no one else. On the other hand, if I decide to eat, life goes on and I can do whatever I want. So in the end, I obviously will eat. But telling me that I must eat never helps. It makes me feel as though someone is forcing me into recovery when I've already decided to recover on my own. Of course, other victims need someone to force them to eat. Some people with ED cannot decide to eat in their own, so this does not apply to everyone. But if you are able to eat on your own, taking control of your own recovery is worth it.

4) when I'm angry and wonder 'why am I here?!'  These days are tough because they make me question why I survived my fight with ED. Why am I still fighting? Why do I still have to be a victim of ED, be busy, stressed, etc?! We all have days when we wonder what our purpose is, why life is tough, etc. I find it helpful when someone listens to me and let's me know that I'm not alone. 'Marina, some days I feel the same way. I wonder why life has to be so hard and why I'm still here. But then I think back to all I've done and everything ahead of me. I remember that although now I feel like this, there are some good days when I feel happy and content. It's normal to feel like this. If you want to talk, I'm here for you. But remember how amazing you are, how successful you have been. And you have much waiting for you. You are a child of God and He never leaves you alone. Talk to Him and complain, and tell Him know how you feel. You will find comfort in knowing that we all feel this way sometimes'.

And this is how I usually answer people who tel me the same thins. It's nice to have someone who can listen to how you feel, but not necessarily give a solution. Sometimes we just need assurance that someone can listen to our emotions and problems. Not always to give a solution. Sometimes we don't need heroes, we need supporters. I hope this was useful for you - either when answering others or when thinking of how others can help you.


  1. Hi Marina
    I passed my exam and as I am in love with my psychology, I was accepted by my professor to work on Master Degree in psychology.
    I really encourage you and urge all of us to talk to each other and listen actively to each others.
    I learnt that mental illness hit their victims through silence and talking is therapeutic.
    ED is more secretive and wants victims to die in silence.
    Please talk and also listen if possible and get others to listen to you


  2. As I struggled my self for years with ED,I can understand exactly what you mean.
    As I am fully recovered I have known for sure that ED makes you FEEL fat so that you will come closer to him and relapse.
    I learnt and I believed in the fact that fat is a mass and not a feeling or emotion.
    When We feel fat or ugly ,it is the thoughts of ED to pull us back.
    You are absolutely right ,you need a knowledgeable supportive and skillful therapist to listen and support you during that time.
    Unfortunately many doctors ,nurses and even therapist have little experiences in responding to a recovering ED victim concerns.
    I wish through your blog others know how to listen and how to support and how to answer and what do not say.

    Thanks Marina for this helpful information to those who are close to ED victims

    Recovered ED victim without relapse for 6 years now

  3. My dear friend that I know only through this blog.
    You have had much much more traumas in your life than 3 or 4 ED victims together.
    Because you are capable, strong and committed ,you have done what almost all ED victims not able to do.
    You took on your own responsibility to recover, no hospitals, no ED expert ,and only a family doctors(many family docs know nothing about ED).
    You exceed in your school(many ED victims either dropped out or lost years.
    You are helping others by volunteering time and effort.
    You take time and effort and come up with wonderful window for ED victims to vent, get a listening ear and get honest advice.
    I am very grateful to you Marina.
    I wish I can pay you a fraction of the favor you have done to me .
    I am a sinner and I do not go to any church but I will wish you happiness all the time


  4. This post is helpful for me Marina as I will have all my families and supporters to know what works for me and what is not and what is helpful and what is not.
    I think I am same as you.
    You motivated me to seek help but I chose to get help and recover. I chose to kick my worst enemy in the butt and smash his head under my dirty shoes.
    No body forced me to recover and so I have the right to live better life .
    I will do same as you are doing eat by myself, watch my health ,seek help when I feel necessary .All what I want is listening EARS.

    Thanks Marina


  5. Yes Marina taking control of your own health(empowering yourself) is the best way to safety.
    You know yourself, limits ,preference ,comfort and you know what you need and as long as you are honest and responsible ,you are deemed to succeed.
    Making your own choices and being in control ,is the key to get to your goals.

    Well said Marina
    I wish all ED victims will do the same


  6. I can not agree more
    We need a listening EARS


  7. I see no problem in helping my family and my friends by just listening and understanding.
    The only problem is I am too old and people let me talk.
    Yes Marina, smiling while listening and show support make a big difference

    Sam Ibrahim
    76 years old Burnhamthorpe

  8. I think our society still not aware of how to listen and the expectation is to give advise.
    Public should be aware that no body like to accept advised or told what to do.
    We just need to be good listeners!!


  9. I really loved the blog spots with different faces.
    As I am learning politics, I may talk more but I will train my self to listen to people more and select when and what I talk.
    I have 2 big EARS and one tiny mouth.


  10. Seeing others smile gives me joy and hope


  11. Marina
    I am a nurse and I believe in do no harm and so the least I can do is compassion,empathy,listening ACTIVELY and support. I teach families and friends how never blame the ill person even if they doing things wrong and I VALIDATE the person.
    Really I learnt that this kind of support and understanding from health care providers and families really work better than medications alone.
    Your post today emphasized what We taught in nursing school.
    Your knowledge and experience and being kind and honest person will help you to become a topnotch nurse.



  12. I like what C J said ,do no harm
    If people are careful and think about what to say before saying it ,would help.
    I urge every body to support at least by listening


  13. We need to be aware of our feelings and make sure all our feelings, fears and worries are addressed and attended to appropriately. I am not afraid of calling my mom, or my dear friend who I know a good listener and just vent all what I have in my gut.
    Believe me or not, I feel much better after.
    Guys please talk, vent and spell it out.
    If you do not have any body ,talk to a tape recorder or write down or even draw what you feel!!


  14. We all feel unwell at times and may be bombarded with unhealthy thoughts and feelings .All what we need at this moment is somebody shows understanding.


  15. We all have good and bad days. This is normal.
    When I have a bad one ,I look for my past to see what kind of things made me feel good in the past and then go for it.


  16. I agree with all what you said Marina


  17. I do the same thing ,when I feel too much on my plate and I want cry ,I just grab a friend and talk.
    Talking flush stress out .
    Silence creates anger and unsatisfaction.


  18. I do not have family members around me but I do have great friend that I always turn to when I face a hard time.He smiles,listen and knows how to take the edge off my shoulders.
    I hope all families and friends of sick people do the same or even not necssary sick but for all of us when We feel overwhelmed


  19. I would be mor happier if my family understand my feeling and my nonverbal cues and just give me time to look at me,hug or just listen and look me in the eye.


  20. I do not like to recieve any advise from others .I trained myself not to give advise also.
    I plan ,choose and manage for myself.
    I think I am right



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