What Does Your Doctor Say About Your Eating Disorder?
When you are in the depths of an Eating Disorder (ED), and even in the beginning of recovery, it is difficult to accurately tune in to your body’s signals and perceive the level of severity of your illness.
ED distorts your cues and views, such that you do not feel hunger accurately, and you do not see the damage that you are physically causing to your body (externally or internally). ED overall obscures your intuition, so if you once knew how to eat in response to your appetite, and look at yourself in the mirror without distortion, you are no longer able to do so.
Changes in your brain and body systems occur such that ED has effectively hijacked your existence.
Given this, it is hard to know who to trust about your body.
ED certainly has his warped ideas. You cannot believe your eyes. Family and friends, though they may be genuinely concerned, are often too emotionally involved, and do not have the professional background to treat your ED.
Doctors, however, are objective others, with the medical expertise to give you real, undeniable test results, including your weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and complete blood panels.
They are able to show you where you stand in relation to others, as well as your own history.
From my own personal experience, when I had Anorexia Nervosa (AN), I was in denial about the seriousness of the disorder until I was hospitalized as an inpatient for over half a year. At first, I felt that I wasn’t “sick enough” to be in treatment, but my medical tests proved otherwise.
Through an art therapy technique (“Body Tracing;” drawing what I thought my body shape was, then having someone trace my actual shape, and seeing the huge discrepancy), I learned that what I was seeing wasn’t real; it was like looking in a fun house mirror.
I decided that, at least until I was recovered, I needed to trust the medical professionals, and have them be my “eyes.”
Throughout treatment and recovery, many different people usually express their opinions about your progress. Some have good intentions, but may not know what to say (and in fact, can unknowingly say something “triggering”).
I found that, instead of engaging in a discussion about perceptions that was frustrating for everybody, it was better if I referred back to what my doctor was currently saying about my ED. Often, I kept it simple, such as “My doctor says that I am medically stable, and we are working on making progress towards my treatment goals.”
This usually allayed their concerns, and also conveyed that I did not want to get into the details.
So, overall, relying on my doctor was both beneficial to me for my own progress, as well as for my family and friends, who felt secure knowing that a medical professional was treating me. I felt safe putting my trust in my doctor until I was ready to “take over the reigns” in recovery.
National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA): Eating Disorder Recovery and Treatment
About the Author: Heather Hower
Heather, MSW, LICSW, QCSW, ACSW has served on the Board of the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) since 2013, and collaborates with her NEDA colleagues on Eating Disorder research studies, papers, and presentations. Through her position at Brown University Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, she has also been collaborating with her local Rhode Island Hospital/Hasbro Children’s Hospital Eating Disorders Partial Hospital, Outpatient, and Home-Based clinical programs since 2013. Heather had Anorexia Nervosa for 23 years, and has been recovered since 2012.
Her blog posts can be found at: NEDA: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog
Project HEAL: http://theprojectheal.org/blog/ Medium: https://medium.com/libertased
Jenni Schaefer: https://jennischaefer.com/blog/eating-and-body-image/recovered-eating-disorders-professionals-stigma/
You can also follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/heatherhower Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heathermeghower/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hhower
and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/heather-hower-b60/