Isolating Myself Due to Anorexia

By October 30, 2012

I have been seeking treatment with a nutritionist and a psychologist for the past 3 months. So far, I have managed to put on 2 kg. (4.5 lb.). Personally, I am quite pleased with my progress. However, my doctors do not think so. They want me to gain 1 kg. (2.25 lb.) per week by eating more oily foods and desserts like cakes and cream puffs etc. Also, they keep on stressing on the weight part and not really trying to change my thinking or attitude towards eating. I feel kind of uncomfortable with how this therapy is progressing. I wonder if I should continue seeking treatment from them. They make me feel stressed. Another issue is that should I engage in social activities to meet more new people? I am in the initial stage of recovery so I am not sure if I can handle mingling with strangers. In addition, I still look very thin, I am afraid they will see me as “abnormal.” However, I feel kind of lonely because for the past few years, I have been isolating myself due to my anorexia. I will like to get to know more people and occupy myself with more activities so that I don’t stay at home and think about food. Hope you can give me some advice. – Jacelyn

Dear Jacelyn,

First, I want to state that I operate professionally on the belief that clients must know when my help is not working for them and be able to do something different—like going to someone else for services.  When a client states they are merely just ceasing therapy, I feel concern. However, I hear you being open to the idea of seeking treatment with a provider that operates on a philosophy that actually builds on where you would like to be.

I think a focus on weight and eating specific foods to prove “health” or “recovery” status is not enough. When you write that you feel “stressed” I think it is a red flag that you feel caught to perform for the people helping you and judged by them on your performance.  You need a loving, respectful approach that is about encouraging you to really think about your recovery program and choose living well over pre-occupation with control, restriction, and competition.

Additionally, it is understandable that you would feel a bit of “cabin fever” after years of practicing anorexia. I am warmed to read that you realize one of the strongest negative consequences of disordered eating is the time/energy and relationship development it robs you of because it demands all of you be focused on it.  Now that you are consciously choosing to live as “you” and not “it,” social time will be a good thing. I always think it is best to start challenging yourself with things that would be the easiest for you to do.  If you are still very “cued” externally by people, their reactions, and social situations, then do not put them at the top of your list. As alternatives, perhaps you can investigate hobbies or passions you have not previously spent time courting and do those.  Often if we head in a direction of personal interest we will find ourselves a community that also shares that interest and it creates an instant experimental play ground for coming “out” instead of hiding.

Remember, one day at a time. One step at a time. There is no trophy or large million dollar check coming your way if you complete four line items on your recovery time in record speed.  The goal of recovery is to understand that you have a purpose for living that goes beyond the disordered eating and to discover how you can share your purpose with others.

May you meet up with all you need along the journey!

Leanne Spencer