Unlearning Anorexia Nervosa - How one woman turned it all around
Anorexia nervosa nearly destroyed Marie. Now that she knows how to let it go, she is better then ever. In fact, we just said good-bye for the last time.
I had helped Marie heal her anorexia nervosa for the last few months, but this time we didn't set another appointment. She was ready to it alone. She knew she no longer had to worry about falling back on the eating disorder to deal with life.
Like most sufferers of eating disorders, she knew about the feelings, behaviors, and thoughts that drove the disorder. Yet, like all my clients, she didn't know what to do with these thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
She had tried treatments where they wanted her to chose different behaviors, like talking to a friend. It never seemed to work as well and it was difficult to do consistently. Whenever she thought of calling a friend, she felt so guilty for being so needy and having to depend on others to help her with this. Often, the feelings were too strong and she didn't make that call.
Another approach she tried was to simply learn to "be" with those thoughts and feelings. However, too often she wasn't strong enough and she would fall back on restricting.
She tried other things, but nothing worked. That's when she found me.
As I do with most anorexics, we started with her self image. She already understood that this was the only body she had and that she should love it no matter what, but she didn't know how.
We used a simple relaxation technique to let go of all negative feelings about and around her body.
You can do the same, just watch these videos and follow along. Repeat it until all your negative feelings are gone.
After Marie let go of her bad feelings about her body, we dealt with the question of feeling fat. I asked her:
- How do you know you are fat?
- When did you first start to believe that you are fat?
- How do you know what fat looks like?
- How do you know you look like what fat looks like?
- What's the worst thing about fat people and being fat?
- What would happen to you if you were fat?
- Any other memories around feeling fat?
Marie had a couple of vivid memories of feeling fat and gross around age 10. Even before that she remembers being told NOT to eat something because it was fattening. Then there were several memories which exemplified how Mom was embarrassed by Marie's weight. Mom put Marie on her first diet at 12.
Whenever she thought of those memories, she still felt the rejection, embarrassment, and loss of control. Those feelings made the memories seem real. The feelings made it true for Marie that she is fat.
The remaining session we spend releasing those feelings of rejection, embarrassment, and loss of control. At the end, Marie could not feel fat no matter how much she tried. Every memory of ever feeling fat, was gone or had change. Now she could only love herself and enjoy her body no matter its shape or size.
In other sessions we addressed control issues especially with her mother, fear of certain foods, issues and fears around being alone and helpless, and several other believes which supported her behavior.
With each session, eating enough healthy food became easier for Marie. Four month later, she knew she was able to handle life without using anorexia nervosa. She had gained weight, looked and felt great, and I knew she would do well.
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