I was bulimic for maybe a year and a half. I knew it was stupid when I started, but I hated myself and food so much...I was so scared that I would become overweight, that I felt I could do nothing else. Well, after a year and a half of constantly feeling sick, having veins break in my face... I just stopped. I knew it was stupid. And I stopped. My mother was becoming increasingly concerned about me and was threatening to have me hospitalized.
So now everyone is all happy because I'm "better." But I'm not. Not really. I don't binge or purge anymore, but my relationship with food and with myself is just as bad as ever. I have panic attacks and I hate myself utterly, but I don't want to start purging again... I just don't want to go back to that...but sometimes I think I was happier then... I just don't know what to do. I know that this whole thing is stupid. I don't care what people think of me, and yet, the idea of gaining any more weight than I already have mortifies me. If this is cured, I don't think I really -want- to be...if all the life I have to look forward to is this constant guilt about eating and hatred of myself. It's virtually all I think about, food and calories; I can name the number of calories in almost any common food. I just don't know what to do anymore...
I see a counselor and he's a pretty cool guy, I enjoy talking with him but he doesn't seem to help any. Everyone just seems concerned with whether or not I purge, but I think there's a lot more to it than that. I suppose my question is this...is there anything I can do to stop my obsessing about food?
You are very astute to realize that you are not better and that there's a lot more to your problem than whether or not you purge. The purging itself is not the problem. The purging is a symptom of a deeper problem.
If the counselor is not helping you, bring it up with him and let him know that. If the two of you cannot find a way to begin to address the real issues (and I suspect you know what those are), then switch counselors. Try seeking out someone with expertise in eating disorders. You might try working with a female therapist if you feel you could open up more easily to someone of the same gender. You may need to meet with several until you "click" with someone. You'll know it's the right person when you feel that they "get it" about what's going on with you, you feel comfortable enough to disclose private things to the person, and he or she pushes you to look at what's really going on and face uncomfortable feelings and issues while being supportive at the same time.
Once you begin to address the real issues, the obsessing about the food will decrease. There are many areas for you to begin thinking about: Society and the media and the ways they influence our perceptions about what is and is not considered "beautiful"; your feelings about yourself as a person as well as about your body and your appearance; what it is that you think would happen if you were to gain weight; and the fact that you use obsessing about food as a way to avoid having to deal with other feelings that make you uncomfortable. Often people with eating disorders feel that so many things in their lives are out of their control, and the eating is one aspect that they can control. It's a good idea to begin to keep a journal in which you write about what's really going on with you, what you're thinking and feeling. When you are frustrated and upset with yourself because of the guilt and self-hatred you feel about eating, you can use the journal to write about those feelings - just to vent and express all that guilt and self-hatred. You might also try looking for a support group for people with eating disorders in your area.
Keep at it, Anne. You know that you're not really better now, and you're right. You'll also know when you are on the right path. Good luck.
This question has been answered by Susan Maroto. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker working out of Mount Laurel, New Jersey. She uses an eclectic approach to holistic healing, mind-body relationships, life transitions, depression, and anxiety.
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