Therapists & Helpers as Allies

Therapists and helpers often possess "insider knowledge" to the problems of anorexia/bulimia and substance misuse as a result of working alongside people struggling with these problems. If therapists are aware of the possibility of them lurking in the background, then they may be more likely to enquire about them.  Therapists are also in a better position to prepare a young woman to maneuver her way through the problems’ attempted comeback.  The more prepared a young woman is for this possibility, the better she will be able to resist disordered eating practices and substance misuse’s tricks and tactics.

This is Ida's response to the question, "If you were to give advice to therapists knowing your experience about what happened to you?  What would you tell therapists its important to focus on or do or questions to ask?"

I think that reminding people of the bigger picture. I guess your not supposed to give advice though.  So asking them what they think bigger picture might be. And asking why they don’t want to be part of the bigger picture.

Great questions. Would it have been helpful for  someone to have mentioned the connection between the two problems?  Cause you had said you had thought there was a connection, but the problems just tried to convince you that you were crazy for thinking that.

Yes I think it would have.  I think if it was really validated. Explained that it can be two sides of the same coin (eating disorders and substance misuse) that could be helpful for people because some people might not be aware of that and then the problems keep on winning.

The following is a therapeutic letter written to a woman named Carrie to make visible the many ways she has been re-claiming her life from Anorexia.

Dear Carrie,

I thought that I would document the Anti-anorexic steps that you have been taking in the past few weeks as a way to support you in continuing to find freedom from anorexia.

Anti- anorexic steps:

-Finding a way to outsmart anorexia by planning your work outfits the week in advance and wearing your most comfortable pair of pants to work with a striped shirt so that you don’t get upset before you leave for work in the morning.

-Ignoring anorexia when it tries to get you to step on the scale

-Inviting a friend over to hangout so that Anorexia doesn't get you all to itself

-Going to the doctor to let her know just how awful anorexia is being to you and bringing your mom for support

-Thinking about making your own support team of professionals who can give you the help that you need at this time.

-Co-writing the list “talking back to Anorexia”

-Not letting Anorexia talk you into ripping up the list “Talking back to Anorexia’

-Carrying the “Talking back to Anorexia” list around so that you can access it if you need it

-Being interested in meeting with a nutritionist

-Ordering the book “Biting the hand that starves you” (and even though you later found out it wasn’t available you are still determined to get it and are tracking it down as I write this!)

-Reading people’s stories on the Butterfly Archives

-Allowing yourself to eat Fish and Chips because you really wanted them

-Starting to recognize the difference between “Anorexia’s voice’ and your OWN VOICE- (I wonder how often it tries to impersonate your voice in the hopes of getting away with it, and what you are paying attention to that might help you catch these times!)

-Recognizing that certain ways of thinking are not helpful and that you have some choice over the time that you want to think of certain things.

-Starting to enjoy being at work more and connecting with your co-workers.

-Telling yourself “ I don’t deserve to have a problem like this- I deserve to be happy” and “ I can’t trust what Anorexia is doing to my body or telling me about my body”

- Thinking that if you had known where Anorexia was going to take you that you would never have listened to it!

I am looking forwards to hearing the other anti- anorexic steps that you have been taking in my absence you’ll have to be sure to update me on them at our next meeting!  Happy Holiday!