Healing Your Hungry Heart Excerpt Chapter 2
“In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.”
--Franklin D. Roosevelt
Before you picked up this book, you probably looked for ways to recovery many times. Maybe some of your methods were questionable: You tried diets to lose weight; you chewed sugarless gum until your jaw ached; you may have tried drugs to squelch your appetite or control your feelings. Maybe you surrendered to your eating disorder and isolated yourself with TV and binge food as your main companions. In public, you may have hidden your too-thin or too-fat or just plain unacceptable body in layers of clothing, smiled a smile you didn’t mean, and kept yourself so busy you didn’t have time to know what you were feeling. You may have distracted eyes from your rotund or skeletal body by wearing expensive or flamboyant jewelry.
When these tricks succeeded, you felt safe as eyes bounced off you and moved on, or if you beguiled those eyes with accessories. At the same time, you were not happy being treated as if you were invisible or when someone focused on your embellishments. You created a barrier between yourself and other people so that having a genuine relationship was an unlikely possibility. This “success” caused you much loneliness.
Now, book in hand, you are ready to explore a path that might be new for you – and it might work. You want to be free. You share this desire with all men and women who are dependent on an eating disorder.
Most of the people I work with are women, so I use the feminine pronoun in this book. I’m reporting the details of the successful treatment of women in my practice over the years, plus my own recovery story. When you, man or woman, focus on the personal details of your life and understand how you act out your eating disorder, you have the potential to move toward your recovery and heal. Are you ready to begin?
Research about eating disorders continues at all levels of psychology and medicine, dispelling myths and gathering new information. (See Appendix C for findings and summaries.) Yet many of the ideas and information about eating disorders, even when based on credible, ongoing research, are still controversial.
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder. Bingeing and purging plays havoc with teeth and gums and can harm the esophagus, and over extended periods of time it disrupts electrolytes in the body, which can result in a heart attack. Anorexia leads to heart problems, infertility, and osteoporosis.
Some people might suffer from bulimia and anorexia without having complicated medical problems. Some live long lives. I’ve know anorexic women in their eighties, bent over with osteoporosis and suffering from mild to moderate dementia. I remember Bella, frail and thin at eighty-five. Her osteoporosis created a “hump” in her back that pushed her upper torso forward. I watched her buttoning her cardigan sweater. Because of the angle of her body, the buttons and the button holes didn’t connect. In a harsh staccato voice she said, “I’m so fat. Damn it. I‘m not eating today.” My breath stopped. My chest ached as I stood witness to the ravaged leavings of lifetime of anorexia. Bella no longer had a choice, but you do.
Excerpt from Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder, by Joanna Poppink, MFT, Conari Press, 2011. Copyright protected August, 2011. http://www.eatingdisorderrecovery.com