You Can Recover....

Insights on Eating Disorder Recovery.

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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 is me.

I survived and after years of healing work, 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 recognise now is merely just the remnants of a loop I chose to unpick years ago.  One of my healers has helped me to 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 chat (that’s just more ego!), and then see how I can pour more love on to the wounds which are still healing. It’s a cycle of enquiry 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 around and 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 trained to look at life as an A to B to C (and so on journey) but 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 Disorder.

I chose to write down my words to my friend’s friend  in bullet point form 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 who 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. I am an energy healer, but energy healers are not doctors so my words may not have medical credence, but they have the credence of a person who is in strong and thriving 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.

  • Autonomy.  You cannot persuade a person to get help who does not want to get help. Persuading a person turns that person into an object who is being moulded into doing something they don’t want to do. The person with ED needs to feel like they have autonomy and that nothing is being forced on them. Even if a person is taken into in-patient treatment because they are so underweight, this rarely empowers the person to feel like there is hope. They are just left being bossed around. No matter how much we want to help, we cannot just ‘fix’ people. It is not our responsibility. We can hold space, pray, offer love, practical support, but nothing will fix them. Thinking people needing fixing implies that they are broken. People with an ED are not broken (if you have ED, you are not broken). People with ED have barriers to experiencing love.
  • 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 ED, seeing that they can recover and it can come from them. 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 you/they may feel is not deserved.
  • There is a point in carrying on with life.
  • ED is an addiction. Addiction cannot be treated by ostracising the addict. The addict cannot love themselves 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 behaviour is impacting their loved ones (ED behaviour 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 vocalise was just too much to bare. It is these inner wounds that need attending to, not just simply the outer food related symptoms of under or over or binge eating.
  • With all the help that you may offer a person with ED, expect no thanks 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 or return the favour. They also do not have to do anything you say. Helping a  person with 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 themselves and being well and not giving from an empty cup. If you are caring for someone who has 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 ED and addiction are some of the most useful, powerful, sourceful, loving and strongest people I know. When you have been healing for a while, your soul 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 organisation BEAT are very helpful for all those involved in a person’s ED.
  • Take emphasis off 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 find solutions or problem solve a person who is unwell with ED. They are not a project.
  • When you realise 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 to getting well.
  • If you are the helper, show the person with ED that they are worth it. They need a squadron of love.
  • Recovery is possible. It happens.
  • You are loved.
Go to the profile of Sarah Elizabeth Wheeler

Sarah Elizabeth Wheeler

Teacher and Reiki Practicioner and Burlesque Perfomer, Reiki Renge and Venus Gallactica Burlesque

Hi! I am one of the Psychologies magazine Ambassadors and I am so thrilled to be here writing on this blog. I am a teacher, mindfulness practitioner, yogi, writer, Reiki healer, law of attraction lover and burlesque performer. I am on a spiritual path and as part of this path I have recovered from anorexia, body dismorphia and sexual assault. I have recently begun my own Reiki Healing practice called Reiki Renge, based in South East London. We all have the potential to alchemise our past into healing and power. I look forward to our journey together as we step into light.

1 Comments

Go to the profile of Sabu Bhugobaun, Psychotherapist/Counsellor

Hello Sarah,

Thank you for this. Thank you for your honesty and your boldness. I work with ED sufferers from time to time. And if they come to a point where they're willing to feel their feelings and begin to embody their Presence, as much as they might fight against it, the work of addressing and healing the wounds begins; and they teach me something quite remarkable: what its like to really hang in there with someone in this profound journey. For that I am grateful.

Thank you again.

Sabu