A friend of a friend confided in her that she was extremely worried about one of her own friends who seemed to be in the tight grip of anorexia nervosa. My friend told her that she knew somebody who may be able to shed some light on how to intervene with the woman who was unwell, and give some guidance from the point of view of being a survivor of anorexia. That person was me.
I survived and after years of healing work and gradual recovery I now thrive. Yes, there are hiccups in this thriving. Healing is not linear. There are the unkind thoughts that pop around my brain telling me that I need to diet and that I really should push myself harder with punishing exercise, but these thoughts are old repetitive patterns in what I recognize now is merely just the remnants of a lock I chose to pick years ago. One of my healers has helped me see that those patterns are not even exclusively mine, but the ancestral and social pain that my soul carried for millennia and I am the one to now disrupt and untangle that karma. I thank my ego for sharing, trying not to make it the enemy for it’s critical chatter and then see how I can pour more love onto the wounds which are still healing. It’s a cycle of inquiry which has taken me deeply into self love.
I sent my friend a series of voice notes to send to her friend so that she could listen to my experience of recovery. There was so much I could say and I know some of my words were circular talk, going off on tangents about various underlying issues. Why? Because we are not linear beings and the road to recovery is not a straight one as many people hope. We are cyclic beings and recovery is a journey of cycles. Linear functioning has its place and can be very useful. We need it in fact to function in this 3D world, but it is not the only approach to healing the patterns of eating disorders (ED).
I chose to write down my words to my friend’s friend in bullet point format so that perhaps my experience can help other people like yourself, if you are reading this piece while knowing you have an ED or you are worried about a person whom you think/know has one. Let me caveat this by stating that I am of course not a doctor and do not work in the medical profession.
- It’s all about autonomy. You cannot persuade a person to get help who does not want to get help. It’s never therapeutic forcing someone to do something they don’t want to do. The person with an ED needs to feel like they have autonomy and that they are not being coerced. Sometimes people are taken into in-patient treatment because they are so underweight. This doesn’t empower them or instill hope. They are being bossed around. No matter how much we want to help, we cannot just “fix” people. People with an ED have barriers to experiencing love. Also, it’s not our responsibility. We can hold space, pray, offer love, practical support, but nothing will fix them. Thinking that people need fixing implies that they are broken. People with an ED are not broken. Please allow me to repeat that to those of you have an ED. You my friend are not broken.
- Everything which is needed for healing is innate in the person. Right now there are a bunch of blockages in the way of you or the person with an ED seeing that recovery can come from within. Those blockages are often very low self-esteem, a need to enforce control on life, self-loathing, zero ability to love oneself, fear of taking up space on the planet which doesn’t feel like something one deserves.
- ED is an addiction. Ostracizing an addict is not a good strategy. The addict cannot love themself and so the addict needs reminding that they are worth loving. This does not need to be a long and dramatic intervention where the ill person is told that they must get help, or that they need help or that they are told all about how their destructive behavior is impacting their loved ones. (ED behavior is very destructive, but that’s not what the person needs to hear. That will make them feel even more unworthy of taking up space on Earth.) This could look like a text message saying just “you are loved” or “thinking of you today”. The addict needs to feel like they matter. Until they can do that for themselves, which comes over time in recovery, they need people to see their value and show love. This may need to be done very gently so as not to overwhelm the addict. I used to feel totally overwhelmed by too much interaction about the illness. Best to keep it light and simple.
- ED is a symptom of inner emotional pain, trauma, sadness and unworthiness. Starving oneself is literally sapping oneself of one’s life force. That’s what I was doing because I felt that being alive with the inner turmoil I felt but could not vocalize was just too much to bare. It is these inner wounds that need attending to, not just simply the food-related symptoms of under-eating or over-eating.
- With all the help that you may offer a person with an ED, expect no thank yous or that you might get anything back. Until a person chooses recovery because they hear their inner voice say that have hit rock bottom (same as addiction) and that they have a glimmer of a thought that getting well could be an option, they have no extra resources to give back in order to return the favor. They also do not have to do anything you say. Helping a person with an ED can be exhausting, frustrating and seem fucking endless so the helper/carer must make sure that they lead by example by taking great care of themself and being well and not giving from an empty cup. If you are caring for someone who has an ED, seek therapy for yourself too. You deserve it. The helper matters too.
- Keep gently standing for love. Love yourself and let love in.
- People who have recovered from an ED and addiction are some of the most useful, powerful, resourceful, loving and strongest people I know. When you have been healing for a while, your soul’s voice will tell you that you have a contribution to make on this planet. We need more people like you.
- Talk to other people who are in recovery. See that it’s possible. The organization BEAT is very helpful for all those involved in a person’s ED.
- Take the emphasis off of food. Food is not the issue. Self-love and self care needs to be taught. Food comes secondary. Heal the wounds beneath the symptoms.
- You are worth the space you take up on the planet. Claim your space.
- All humans want to be seen, heard and acknowledged.
- Do not try to problem-solve a person who is unwell with an ED. They are not a project.
- When you realize that your life is no longer manageable because of the difficulties you are experiencing around an ED, listen to that voice. It is your higher self speaking and this is the portal to go through in order to get well.
- If you are the helper, show the person with an ED that they are worth it. They need a squadron of love.
- Recovery is possible. It happens.
- You are loved.
Energy healers are not doctors so my words may not have medical credence, but they come from a person who is in strong and thriving thanks to ED recovery. Everybody’s journey and karma are different, so my words are not one-size-fits-all. I hope there is some comfort here though, and hope.