Why You Need an Eating Disorder Specialist
So. You’ve acknowlwedged that you have an unhealthy relationsip with food. You’ve decided to get help. You look online and there are hundreds of therapists in your area. You call your insurance company and get a never ending list of therapists who claim to be ED specialists – you call some of them and worry that they don’t actually get it. This is really important - you don't want just anyone. Maybe you hate yourself when you look in the mirror. Maybe it’s gotten so bad that you’ve have been hospitalized, or it’s gotten in the way of work, your relationships, or your social life. Perhaps you have opted for surgery of some kind, but it still isn’t enough. Or maybe you have been on a diet for as long as you can remember – categorizing your days as “good” or “bad” based on what you ate (or didn't eat), or what the number on the scale says.
You’ve come to the right place.
An eating disorder is a complex illness. Unlike most, it is overwhelmingly emotional and undeniably physical. It requires a treatment that is just as sophisticated and aggressive. How many times have you been told by a therapist to practice “healthy distraction?” You feel sad – watch a funny movie; you feel lonely – go to a café; you have urges – do something with your hands; you feel anxious - do a guided meditation on that app you got. That’s all fine and good until you sit down at 9pm, after a full day of distraction, and it all comes flooding back. So then what?
It is important to remember that an eating disorder is a coping skill. The obsession of food (whether it is restricting or over-indulging) and weight has served some type of emotional purpose for you. Maybe the bingeing numbs you, or the purging gives you a “fresh start," the restricting makes you feel powerful and in control. All in all, this just takes you away from whatever it is you are truly feeling. What we don't want to do - and what many traditional therapies will recommend - is we don’t want to replace one distraction with another, popularly deemed “healthy,” distraction. As Robert Frost said, “the only way out is through.” If you are deciding to embark on your recovery journey, it is imperative that you accept that it will not be easy. It will hurt. You will feel worse before you feel better. You will want to stop. Every fiber of your being will tell you why your team is wrong, or why it makes perfect sense to go on that run, skip lunch tomorrow, or why you deserve to gorge yourself after such a hard day.
You must find someone who understands the intricacies of an eating disorder; someone who will call you out when you have a seemingly rational argument as to why using food, in whatever capacity, is warranted. In a world of distraction – social media, music, kindles, etc. – you need to look at what is truly driving the engine. You deserve it and, with the right help, you can do it.