Overcoming Anorexia Nervosa: Acknowledging Your Condition
By Dr Becky Spelman
Overcoming anorexia can be an exhausting challenge to undertake. The thought-process that informs the behaviour can be so deeply ingrained that all sense of perspective is lost. You may be dangerously thin and still not be able to recognise the damage you’re doing to your body.
Acknowledging that you do, in fact, have an eating disorder is the first step towards making a successful recovery. But you must be willing to take full ownership of your condition. It can lead to some uncomfortable truths about your character. But for this process to be at all effective, you must be completely transparent with yourself and those who’ve been charged with supporting you.
Taking the First Steps and Accepting your Challenge
Although you might not think so right now, it is entirely possible for you to change your relationship with food, your eating habits and your body image. You must be prepared for some evitable setbacks. But this is all part of the process. That’s the keyword here – process. Overcoming Anorexia Nervosa isn’t something you can accomplish overnight. You need to make gradual changes.
Just as you’ve made unreasonable demands of yourself in the past, it’s important that you don’t bring that mindset with you into the recovery process. In no way are you trying to place further shame, blame, and guilt on yourself. You approach yourself from a place of nurture and celebrate each step forward you take no matter how small. A step forward is always a step forward.
Here are some key steps and questions for assessing where you are right now:
Try to remember as best you can what caused you to change your behaviour around food.
Were you overweight? (Teased), were you on a restrictive diet? Were you trying to meet exacting expectations placed on you by others?
What do you think is enabling your Anorexia more than anything else? (If it’s more than one create a list).
Try and identify what triggering factors were (what caused you anorexia) and what your maintaining factors are. See if you can separate them from one another.
Try referring to an app or website to work out your BMI and compare it to that of a healthy person. Does it fall within the ‘green zone?”
Try creating an outline, including these details. You don’t need to show it to anyone. Just use it as an exercise to see where you’re really at with your current mental state.
The 5 Biggest Obstacles that Stand in Your Way to Recovery
As we’ve touched on, there’s going to be obstacles. It’s inevitable. But if you have prior knowledge of what challenges you’re going to face, it can make the road to recovery that much easier. Here some of the most commonly observed hurdles that might halt your progress or even prevent you from seeking any further help:
Lack of Commitment
You can have all the support you need in the world. But ultimately, this journey starts and ends with your commitment. You are the one who must take the steps towards recovery. No one can force your hand. Be aware of trying to reason yourself out of making the necessary changes. When you come up against resistance, it’s your condition talking, not you.
Fear of Losing Control
At present, your life is probably structured around the maintenance of your anorexia. One of the initial ‘lifts’ you felt at the onset of your condition is that it afforded you a sense of control. But the reality is when you’ve reached a stage of physical and mental depletion, you are no longer in control. Your anorexia is controlling you.
One of the more challenging aspects to contend with is the lack of a proper support network. The deeper you find yourself in anorexia, the more you’ll be inclined to withdraw from your social relationships. But this isolation is only self-imposed. It’s an imagined prison that you step out of any time. But it’s you that must make that choice. There are people that care.
We’ve already touched the fact that your anorexia will often ‘speak up for itself.’ You may find a nagging voice in your head trying to convince you not to abandon your course. But it’s nothing more than your inner saboteur. You’re trying to recognise this complex web of thoughts as the intruders. Don’t allow yourself to believe you aren’t capable of change.
Finding the Motivation to Change
You need to remember that while your anorexia may seem to have helped you solve some problems, it has taken far more away from you than you may be willing to admit. You didn’t develop anorexia because you’re mentally defective. You most likely came to embrace these behaviours unknowingly because it offered you an out. But what it actually resulted in was giving your power away and conform to unrealistic expectations. Here, now, is your chance to counter that by enacting your own take-back of power. You start the process of releasing yourself from all of the self-limiting beliefs and behaviours. But you must be the one to stand up and acknowledge that you want to change and need to make it happen – for the sake of their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
About the author:
Dr Becky Spelman is a leading UK Psychologist who’s had great success helping her clients manage and overcome a multitude of mental illnesses.
***If you’re struggling with Anorexia Nervosa and think you might benefit from speaking to someone about your situation, we offer a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with one of our specialists to help you find the best way to move forward. You can book yours here
Graham, P & Dr C. Freeman. (6th Oct 2016). Overcoming Anorexia Nervosa. Robinson; UK 2nd ed. Edition 9thMar 2019).
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