Anorexia: Healing through Creativity

SingerCreativity and self-expression are wonderful ways to recover from an eating disorder. Not eating and overeating are ways to control your life. Creativity happens when there is full control and can even be a form of meditation.

When I was young, I had many throat infections. My mom’s solution was always to take me to the doctor and give me antibiotics. This was a major part of my life for about 10 years. I took antibiotics about 6 months every year as a kid. It freaks me out to think about it now. When I grew up and learned more about the connection between physical problems and emotional states, I discovered that my throat infections could have been a result of being unable to express myself. Funnily enough, when I started writing at the age of 14, they disappeared.

I also learned that self-expression can be a cure, so since then, whenever my throat starts playing up and I have that familiar dry tingle threatening to flare, I sing! I turn the music on at full volume, or do it in the car, and sing! It does magic. One day and the infection is gone.

Using art for self-expression is a wonderful way to regain control over your life. You are on your own, creating what is in your mind. No criticism, no expected outcomes, just you and your creative flow, so you can feel how your body obeys your commands.

In any creative form, there is a sense of freedom that anorexic people desperately need. They have the freedom to try new things, the freedom to make mistakes, the freedom to express themselves, the freedom from rules and boundaries – basically, the freedom to be themselves.

Also, immersing ourselves in creative art can work as a great distraction from thinking about the emotional challenges that take over otherwise. Anorexic people continually think about their “distorted body”, about food and about their problems. Keeping busy and doing something creative is like putting a sign on the door saying “time out” from thinking and hopefully those thoughts will never come back.

People are different and find different forms of self-expression, but all of them are wonderful and can help in healing and recovering from anorexia or other eating disorders.

Read more about how to heal yourself from anorexia

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Anorexia: Love Your Body

Model smiling with diet symbolsWomen with Anorexia have issues with their body image and a feeling of helplessness and inability to control their life. The combination of these challenges makes them seek control in any way and not eating seems to them a great way to gain control.

Society around us obviously contributes a lot to the negative body image and self image girls have during childhood, through their teenage years and later on into adulthood. The image of an anorexic teen girl can be misleading. There are also many women are anorexic who need help.

One way of healing is learning to love your body.

Loving your body is giving yourself the permission to feel good physically and it must be done slowly, with love and with patience. If you are a parent or someone who wants to help an anorexic person, just saying, “You need to love your body”, will not make the required difference.

The best idea is to help the anorexic person search for good things – positive thoughts, encouragements, small bits of progress and every little achievement – to help change their perception of their life’s reality.

Read more about loving your body and curing anorexia

Anorexia: How to stop worrying

Horribly skinny boyAnorexia is a very debilitating disease. While it looks like there is a physical problem, the real problem is the one we cannot see with our eyes but the one we can see with our heart. As hard as it is to accept, choosing not to eat is a way to deal with difficult emotions.

Most eating disorders are the same. Eating (too much) or not eating (at all) is the solution to worry, to fear, to shame, to confusion, to failure and to guilt, and gradually, the simplest strategy seems to be to shut down the desire for food.

I do not know if you have ever fasted for fun, for health or for weight loss. There is a point when you no longer feel hungry at all. I think it is important for people to feel this point to understand that we can eat or not eat at will. To survive, we really do not need much food, so someone who chooses not to eat, really does not feel hungry, but still has those emotions that he or she tries to keep away. If you want to help a person who has anorexia, remember that focusing on the food is (again) working on the symptom and not the problem.

The best solution to anorexia is increasing the emotional intelligence. The first step is to recognize the feelings and the second step is to manage the feelings.

Today, I will focus on tips to mange worrying.

Worry is a feeling of fear from a possible bad future. People go to the future inside their head and imagine something bad, then come back to the present carrying the fear of this possibility. If it seems to you not to be real, it is because it is not. We all do this in some form, but some people have a problem distinguishing between their imaginary future and the present and those people do not just worry. They have what we call an anxiety attack.

Here are 10 tips to address worry or, in its severe form, anxiety, that may be a trigger to choosing not to eat. These are good for anyone, whether they have anorexia or not, and can help you help another person too.

Read more about how to stop worrying and recover from anorexia

Anorexia: Exaggerated Perception

Young anorexic manPeople with eating disorders like anorexia often have an exaggerated perception of life. It is as if they see the world through huge magnifying glasses and things that seem minor to others seem huge and overwhelming to them.

If you have anorexia or any other eating disorder, or if you have a child that has it and you want to help, it is important to focus on the thoughts and the mindset and not on the food. Not eating is not the problem. It is the solution that people with a distorted perception find for their problems.

Avoid trying to convince them to eat. It only makes things worse. Anorexic people need control, not a nagger.

Avoid punishing a child who has anorexia. It only increases their helplessness and their desire to control something (ANYTHING) in their life, like what they eat, when they eat and how much they eat.

Generally, anorexic people have a very bad self-image, considering self as useless, not worthy, a failure, stupid, an idiot, etc, and they use every little thing that happens in their life to reinforce it. They use their glasses to look for proof they are worthless and they do not consider single events as temporary or coincidental, but as part of their identity.

Here is a list of thoughts that make big things out of small things and demonstrates the effect of the huge magnifying glasses anorexic people wear. Each one you get rid of will reduce the magnifying effect.

Read more about how to treat anorexia

Anorexia: Warning Signs

Anorexic girlOne of the things every parent will tell you when his/her daughter is diagnosed with Anorexia or any other eating disorder is that they could not see it coming. I am sure they mean it. Parents do not want to believe their child is having a problem, including me. It is mainly because most of us think that it says something about us. Maybe it says we have failed and we are not good parents. The problem with this fear is that it clutters our thinking and makes us blind to the warning signs of anorexia.

Be brave! Keep reading and look carefully at every photo, even though they are scary.

Having a child with Anorexia or any other eating disorder requires strong, brave parents who manage to help their child despite what others might say about them. The problem with Anorexia is that everyone can see it. Most kids do not do a very good job hiding it.

A couple of years ago, I worked with an anorexic woman who was 40 years old and weighed about 25kg (55lbs). Trust me, that was scary! It is not something you can hide very well. When I was in hospital with her, in the mental ward, there were other girls there and not all of them were teens. They looked like skeletons! But it is much harder to notice anorexia when it is developing and people often say, “She’s just a bit skinny, that’s all. She’ll get over it”.

Read more about how to detect anorexia