Does Everyone Have the Ability to Recover from an Eating Disorder?

By December 10, 2012

I’m 23 years old, and have had an eating disorder for almost 11 years. I have gone from anorexia, to bulimia, and now live with anorexia (binging/purging subtype). I just recently got out of the hospital (yet again) for my weight being too low and some medical issues. My question is this: do you think everyone has the ability to recover? If so, why haven’t I yet? i understand that it’s possible nobody can answer this question. I’m just so fed up. I can’t get real treatment, and the hospital doesn’t do anything besides fatten me up and throw me out. It’s so lonely, and I feel desperate for this to end. However, I’m thinking that I may just have to learn to enjoy my eating disorder because I’m always going to have it. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. Take care and God bless. – E.P.

Dear E.P.,

I wish I could sit and talk with you more, and really hear your story. There is so much more to you than an eating disorder. Unfortunately this battle has come to define much of your life. Do I think recovery is possible for every person? Yes. Does it happen? Obviously, no. You are certainly in a very serious situation. You’ve had this for a long time and you are now practicing the most life-threatening form of an eating disorder. Your comment about learning to “enjoy” it is deeply deceptive because, (1) It’s obvious you are not enjoying it and (2) you won’t enjoy it for long as it will eventually take your life.

However, something in your question gives me hope…that is your sense that your ED is not working for you. That sense of helplessness is a significant step in moving toward healing. Use that to your advantage. Here’s what I suggest…

Seek help beyond the hospital. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in an intensive treatment center but you need more than the hospital treatment that restores your weight and discharges you. You need to dig deep into your story and face what it is your eating disorder is helping you cope with. You will then need to face a “death” of another kind. In order to give up your eating disorder you will grieve the loss of relationship you have with it as well as the other losses you may have in your life. Giving up your behaviors will very much feel life-threatening, but the reality is you will find life through it.

There is more to you than this eating disorder. Find out what that is and seek someone out who will help you. Take whatever steps necessary and start with admitting to an intensive treatment center where they will walk with you into your story. See “Finding Treatment” for more guidance.

May you find freedom,

Travis Stewart, LPC