I got an email from a 17-year-old HealthyGirl.org reader named Hope a couple of days ago that reminded me of how powerful the feeling of controlling your food can be.
I remember the sense of relief I used to feel the moment I even decided that I was going to fast or start a new diet. It was like the promise of a new me, a new day, a new victory over food. But that high never lasted long, did it?
“I’ve slowly begun to acknowledge my eating disorder, which I’m not sure I’d describe as BED. It’s more of an EDNOS,” Hope wrote me. “Binge one day, fast a day, binge, fast or restrict, repeat. I feel in control on my fasting days, and then lose it the next.”
Every time we lose that battle, it makes us feel worse, and worse and worse about ourselves, doesn’t it? Before I stopped dieting for good, I’d gotten to a point where this constant “failure” of mine to stick to a diet made me feel like I couldn’t be trusted to do anything right.
“Because I set unrealistic goals for myself (stop eating for as long as possible), it is consequently very simple not to reach them. As a result, when I fail to live up to my own expectations, I feel weak and undeserving,” Hope wrote. “I punish myself by eating, and eating, and eating. It’s a vicious cycle.”
Here’s the crux of Hope’s question, and I was hoping that other members of the HealthyGirl.org community would weigh in and tell her what they think or what they did to get help: “My parents are constantly covering costs for all kinds of opportunities for me, and I don’t feel right burdening them with my health issues and giving them more to worry about, and more costs to cover if they feel a nutritionist or psychiatrist is necessary. Any advice? I feel I have hit rock bottom.”
OK, Hope, here’s the deal: I don’t know your parents, but I know my parents, and I have friends who are parents, and I hope to be a parent someday—and I would bet my life that they would want to know what you’re going through. They have given you opportunities because they love you and want you to succeed and be happy. But how can you succeed and be happy if you are unhealthy physically or mentally?
Becoming well—no matter how long it takes—is that most important thing that you can do for your future, and I’m sure they will understand that. Treatment and help for what you’re going through doesn’t have to be some super-expensive inpatient thing, it could start as simply as a few appointments with a therapist or a nutritionist who specializes in working with disordered eaters and then working on things yourself for a while with books or in free support groups. All of us have a different recovery journey.
But, like I wrote in my answer to Yuki, who’s a couple years younger than you, telling someone close to you, like your parents, and reaching out for support, really is the first step in getting over this stuff. It’s too important to keep to yourself.
I’d like to open it up to other HG readers to weigh in now, whether you want to talk about your own feelings of controlling food or with some insight for Hope. And, Hope, please let us know how things go. xo…Sunny