There is so much strangeness that goes on with an eating disorder.  For example, you would think that all who have these awful things would be thrilled to have them out of their lives.  While on the one hand they are, but, on the other they are not.  “What? I don’t understand,” many will say.

Eating disorders (whether it is Anorexia, Bulimia, or Binge Eating), are the most devastating of any psychiatric syndrome.  They cause so much mental and physical pain, as well as confusion, depression, anxiety. They create so many difficulties in life, such as conflict in relationships, loss of job, and interruption of school or college. Worst of all they contribute to an increased death rate among the young female adult population! So wouldn’t it make sense that someone would love to free of an eating disorder?

But they often aren’t.hands-on-with-gratitude-through-the-holiday-season-300x169

To understand the tenacity of an eating disorder victim that holds on to the restrictive pattern of Anorexia even when at an emaciated weight, or to comprehend the obsessiveness of Bulimia demonstrated by following an excessive exercising pattern (even when injured), or to grasp the reason for out of control eating by someone who is terrified of being overweight, one mustcomprehend that these behaviors, thoughts, and feelings are being directed by an eating disorder personality.  This personality gradually and insidiously occupied the individual without them actively pursuing Anorexia, Bulimia, or a Binge Eating Disorder.  Since no one ever started out to develop an eating disorder, and don’t know when it actually happened, they are often left to its’ demise until someone else points it out.  By this time the eating disorder has become such an integral part of their live, it seems like it is really them who is making these decisions!  If that sounds strange then you are accurate in your summation.  It is strange!  However, it is true.

So, as we prepare for our traditional Thanksgiving celebration, where there is often a focus on favorite foods being shared with friends and or family, we usually pay little or no attention to the content of the food we are having.  We may feel somewhat uncomfortable as we head back for a second helping, but then may find ourselves leaving some food on our plate, or saving it for later.  Perhaps, we go ahead and have that second piece of pie and later regret it only because now feel too full.  But we don’t get stuck in a lost world of horrible thoughts that scream, “You are worthless, and now you are going to weigh —– and you are never going to be in control”, and we don’t feel compelled to say “No thank you, I have already eaten” when you actually haven’t.  These individuals are stuck with internal thoughts that condemn food and threaten them of the miserableness that will come about if they dare eat anything or keep it.

So, as we go into a season of Thanksgiving, I wish all of you well.  Those of you who struggle with the ongoing or intermittent threats from an eating disorder, I plead with you to remember, that as awful as those thoughts are, they are never true.  God has created you in such a way that you will be able to survive your feelings and He has given you the courage to make it through the darkest times as well as to enjoy the times that will be there for you as journey to Recovery.  For friends or families I encourage you to remember that it is difficult to understand what your loved one is going through.  Asking them how you can help may the most beneficial thing to do.  Perhaps sitting with them during their meal, encouraging them through casual conversation, playing a game while eating, taking a short stroll afterwards, maybe even making their plate for them could be helpful.  It will be important to allow as much control as possible and respectfully remember that Thanksgiving is one of the most difficult holidays for those who struggle with any eating disorder.

~Lynda A. Brogdon, Ph.D., C.E.D.S., C.E.A.P.
   Executive Director and Founder 

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Canopy Cove’s Eating Disorder Treatment Programs offer compassionate, comprehensive treatment for females, males, adolescents, and adults, who are struggling with Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorders and Co-Existing Diabetes, Depression, and Anxiety. Equine-Assisted Therapy is an weekly part of the Recovery process at Canopy Cove.