Archive for the ‘Denial’ Category

You can have all the help, support, treatment and therapists but the bottom line about recovery, relapse and healing is this:

To beat anorexia you have to eat

This isn’t the “just eat” type of comment. It is the deep, caring, understanding statement that in the end says “the only way to fully fight back is to eat”.

It means fighting against the voice of anorexia and the deep fears it has created in you – the food rules, the list of forbidden foods, the safe foods, the fat fears, skinny is best rules.

Eating is a normal activity. It is an essential activity for life and health. The mind and body need to be fully nourished for us to perform at our best. Eating is meant to be flexible, intuitive, fun, enjoyable, social, delicious.

Sticking close to the safe food list not only slows or stalls recovery, but it tells the anorexia that it is still in control and winning. Having a strict routine of counting calories, weighing food, using certain bowls and utensils, eating slowly, missing meals is also telling the anorexia it is still in control.

To beat anorexia you have to eat. You have to break down the rules and fears.

The rules and fears aren’t real. I think this is the hardest thing to realise. That other people do not have these rules and fears in their heads. It is the anorexia and only the anorexia that is making up these rules and fears. It distorts your thinking and your perception. It creates denial, smoke screens, irrationality and lies.

The biggest freedoms from anorexia are literally not having the rules, routines, fears and bondage that you live with on a daily basis.

Beginning to eat again is not an easy process. I truly know how hard it is. Sophie had so many rules and fears. It took months and in some cases years for her to confront the fear for each and every food. The fears are not a blanket approach – each food on the forbidden list had it’s own fears. For someone who only had 6 safe foods, Sophie’s forbidden list was formidable. For her it was a matter of finally deciding to choose recovery and be committed to it. It meant facing one new food at a time. Some foods were easier than others. But it did get easier over time. As the anorexia lessened it’s hold, Sophie found trying new foods and adding them to her diet was not as hard. Telling herself constantly that the fears and rules were all false also helped. It’s like reprogramming your mind.

Forever etched in my mind is her look of delight and amazement when trying a strawberry for the first time in years.
It was a truly magical and amazing moment.

Whilst you are confronting the anorexia and learning to eat again, this is where the therapy and support come in. Help to encourage you and let you know you are not having to face this alone. Treatment to help you unravel the hold the anorexia has on your mind. Meal plans to help you learn to eat again.

Do you want to beat anorexia? Claim back you life? Finally have freedom?
Eating = healing

eating = healing

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Libero: Scott


The biggest barrier I had to overcome in recovery from my eating disorder was admitting to myself I had a problem.

For the longest time, I tried to convince myself my weight loss was an “accident” and a result of my increasing interest in cycling. I had been cycling for a while, but had recently began racing for a team, and riding quite a bit more often and longer mileage than before. I convinced myself and others my food habits were healthy, and any weight loss was just coincidental.

It was only when I was encouraged to eat more to make up for my extra activity did it start to become clear that my weight loss wasn’t just a consequence of more cycling.

I was encouraged by my parents to increase my caloric intake in the normal ways, and although I didn’t think I was against gaining weight, I resisted these changes very strongly. I truly didn’t believe I was against a change in diet or gaining weight, but in fact I really did have very strong feelings against it.

I wasn’t even aware of my resistance until I tried to implement the changes recommended to me.

It wasn’t until I went to a therapist specializing in eating disorders I was able to begin to accept I actually had an eating disorder and needed help. I still remember walking out of my first appointment with my mom. I was in tears as we got in the car and I asked my mom “Do I really have an eating disorder?” We both knew the answer.

Even after coming to this realization, it took awhile for it to really set in. For awhile, I still considered people with eating disorders to be others, not myself. I also continued to convince myself part of what I was doing was healthy, even though I knew as a whole my behavior was disordered.

So why is it important to accept you have an eating disorder and need help? For me, it was important to accept I had an eating disorder in order to motivate my recovery.

If I felt like nothing was wrong, I had no desire to change it, and I also had no reason to accept the help I was receiving from my family and therapist. When this was the case, I ended up depressed and frustrated because I was being forced to make what I saw as unnecessary changes to my diet simply because I was told to do so.

Until I was able to fully recognize my behaviors as part of the eating disorder, I wasn’t able to give my full effort towards recovery.

So how do we accept we have an eating disorder or other mental illness and need help? I think the most important part of this is to take a look at your everyday life and see if food, exercise, or anything else has overarching control over your actions for a given day. Anything that is keeping you from living your life freely is something you need to take a look at.

Also, if you have changed any routines recently, think critically about why you made the change. For example, if you have changed your diet, or haven’t been going out with friends as much, think about why you have changed your behavior in this way. And don’t just brush it off, really think about this! If I had looked closer at my change in diet from a critical point of view, I would have very likely seen it wasn’t motivated by a desire to be healthy as I told myself it was.


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Libero: by Jessica

How many of you who are battling an eating disorder have ever thought to yourself “I’m not ‘sick enough’ or ‘thin enough’ to have an eating disorder?” I’ve definitely been there.

Eating disorders are the deadliest mental illnesses, and yet the nature of an eating disorder is to view one’s health, body, and even the disorder itself in an irrational way. This often leads to people who are slowly killing themselves being in denial about how ill they are, causing the eating disorder to spiral even more out of control.

In my recovery, I was not able to truly make progress until I was able to believe that I had an eating disorder that warranted treatment.
Overcoming my denial and recognizing that I had a problem happened slowly and over time.

This is so much easier said than done. Everyone needs to find their own path to recovery, but here are the top ten ways I have been able to overcome my denial about my eating disorder:

1. I started seeing a dietitian who specializes in eating disorders and put my trust in her expertise.

My dietitian is fantastic, and she has a ton of scientific evidence to back up her recommendations of how I should be eating. Sometimes I still argue with her and accuse her of “just wanting me to be fat,” but I have to remind myself the accusation is ridiculous. She has a degree for a reason. She is an expert on nutrition and she wouldn’t have gone into this field if she didn’t have patients’ best interests at heart.

2. I educated myself on eating disorders and body dysmorphia.

Knowledge is power. When I started reading about the symptoms of eating disorders and what experts say, I was able to realize why I thought the way I did about food and my body. I acquired knowledge I could use to oppose eating disorder thoughts and beliefs.

I went from thinking “I must need to lose weight because my reflection says so” to learning my convictions about my body could not be trusted. I learned you can die from an eating disorder at any weight. I learned eating disorders are more complex than the images shown in the media, so I shouldn’t compare my experience to those images.

I even educated myself on how denial is one of the top symptoms of an eating disorder, so I came to recognize that not feeling like I had a problem didn’t mean I didn’t have a problem.

3. I stopped comparing.

Eating disorders thrive on competition, and your eating disorder will always tell you that you don’t measure up. In reality, your eating disorder is feeding you lies to keep you sick.

There is always going to be someone with an eating disorder that is “sicker” or “thinner” than you. It doesn’t mean you aren’t sick. This includes people who write memoirs about their eating disorders.

I realized early on in my recovery that eating disorder memoirs only served as a source for comparison. There are also always going to be people who don’t have eating disorders who make unhealthy decisions about food, and seeing those people engage in unhealthy behaviors isn’t a free pass for you to engage in them as well.

Common behaviors are not necessarily healthy behaviors, especially since we live in a culture encouraging a thin ideal body image and where disordered eating is rampant.

4. I made a list of everything I lost to my eating disorder.

It is easy to romanticize one’s eating disorder since it serves as a coping mechanism. It can be helpful to take the time to sit down and reflect on the ways in which having an eating disorder detracts from happiness, health, relationships, goals, etc. Whenever I start to romanticize my eating disorder, I look at my list and remind myself of how destructive and serious my eating disorder is.

5.  I identified the difference between my disordered thoughts and my healthy self, and I have an open dialogue between the two.

This is definitely a process, and it takes time. I learned to create a separation between my healthy self and my eating disorder by reading Jenni Schaefer’s Life Without Ed. The separation allows me to “talk back” to my thoughts from a disordered place and disobey them.

For example, if I find myself thinking I have to restrict in order to feel better about a social rejection, I can take a step back and realize the thought is coming from my eating  disorder – not from the part of me that has my best interests at heart.



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Eating Disorder Recovery: Overcoming Denial of Your Past

Boy facing fearsIndividuals with an eating disorder or disordered eating are often unaware of the source of their pain. In order to begin the recovery process, they first must discover the wellspring of pain from the past. Denial is a significant detour in that quest.

There are two kinds of denial. The first is your own denial of what has happened to you. This may take the form of doubting that what you remember ever took place. Because the abuse has been denied, it may take on an unreal quality when remembered. Almost as if it happened to someone else. If the abuse is remembered, it is often seen through the prism that “explains” why the abuse was not really abuse after all.

Denial enters through self-talk. These are the messages repeated over and over to ourselves as we try to deal with the pain and our relationship with food. Thoughts of “nobody’s home is perfect” or “it could have been worse” or “it wasn’t that bad” or “there’s nothing I can do about it now” allow you to minimize the damage. “I should be strong enough to deal with this on my own” or “everyone turns to food when they’re down” increases frustration at the inability to bring the eating disorder or disordered eating under control.

But denial, this minimization of the pain, is merely a coping mechanism to keep the pain at bay. Denial is the ticket that allows you to transform life-altering pain into that limbo state of “not that bad.” If it is “not that bad,” you believe you can find the strength to go on.

The other form of denial comes from the person or people who hurt you. They may deny that the abuse ever took place or that there was not anything wrong with it if it did. He or she may accept that the event or events happened but deny responsibility or minimize the damage. This can happen regardless of the nature of the abuse. Whether the piece was a single, specific event, or a pattern of hurtful behavior carried over out a number of years, this person may refuse to accept the ramifications of his or her actions.

This person may even attempt to make you feel responsible for the abuse itself or responsible for your “version” of the events. They may deny the damage by calling into question your natural response to the damage.  It is to his or her benefit that denial goes both ways—their denial of the event and your denial of the damage done. They may resist acknowledging your eating disorder or the place food now has in your life, because acknowledgment means recognizing the abuse or pattern of hurtful behavior behind it.

So the responsibility for the abuse itself and the resulting eating disorder could be shoved back at you, increasing stress surrounding your eating disorder or pattern with you, escalating its progression. As this escalates, it becomes easier to focus your attention solely on its progress, diverting attention from the root cause.

The desire to go back and rewrite your past is seductive, especially if your past was one of the abuse and pain. Denial allows you to do just that. Denial takes the pages of your past and alters them according to “if onlys,” or it substitutes blank pages for the pain that is really there.

A familiar proverb assures us that those who refuse to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. You can also be said that those who deny the events of their own history are doomed to relive them. To deny abuse is to perpetuate it. The only way to stop the chain of abuse is to stop denying the truth of that abuse.

Each of us is the product of our experiences, and not one of us is immune to the pain they have cost us. We may not be able to control what happened to us, but we can control who we become as a result of those past events.

First, however, we need to look at those experiences honestly. The light of reality can seem harsh and bright to those who have been hiding from the truth. Clarity and detail spring forth from the light of truth.



Excerpts taken from Gregory L. Jantz, Hope, Help & Healing From Eating Disorders: A Whole-Person Approach To Treatment of Anorexia, Bulimia, and Disordered Eating, WaterBrook 2010.

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Abuse and eating disorders, abuse and depression, abuse and disordered eating, abuse and self harm, abuse and addictive behaviours. 

Worth reading from Dr Gregory Jants and Eating Disorder Hope


When someone seeks treatment for an eating disorder, they want help addressing the immediate issue at hand — their anorexic, bulimic, or compulsive overeating behavior.

What they often have a hard time accepting, though, is that there’s a lot more to it than that.

Though there are a number of ways to directly address disordered eating behavior, the key to long-term recovery is delving into something most people are understandably fearful of — a painful past.

“Individuals with eating disorders are often unaware of the source of their pain,” writes A Place of Hope founder Dr. Gregory Jantz in Hope, Help and Healing For Eating Disorders: The Whole-Person Approach to Treatment of Anorexia, Bulimia, and Disordered Eating.

“I believe this is God’s way of protecting us. In order to survive as children, we block out abusive behavior. But somewhere along the line, the adult must discover the wellspring of pain from the past.”

“Denial is a significant detour in that quest.”

The Double-Whammy of Denial

When you deny the truth of your past, you deny yourself peace in the present. Add to that your abuser’s denial of the truth, and that’s a pretty powerful discounting of self to live with all your life.

1) Your denial of what happened to you.

We commonly deny the pain of the past through self-talk that might sound a lot like:

Sound familiar?

If so, it is critical that you know the truth. Your memory and your feelings about the past are valid. You have a right to your anger. You have a right to your pain.

2) Your abuser‘s denial of what they did to you.

While your abuser may acknowledge the behavior that was hurtful to you, they may also minimize its weight in similar-sounding language as your own internal dialogue, much of which takes on tones of blame:

  • It wasn’t that big of a deal.
  • You’re too sensitive.
  • You were a handful.
  • I had to be tough with you.

Then there are those abusers who deny their behavior entirely, hoping a vehement denial will cause you to doubt yourself, your memory, your truth.

Finding Your Way To Acceptance

It’s time to get to the root of your eating disorder. If you haven’t already, seek the help of a professional counselor. With their help you can start accepting the pain of your past. While the person who hurt you may never view their behavior as abusive, it is possible for you to accept their version of what happened, just as it is possible for them to accept yours.

Positive Affirmation: God gives me courage each day as I walk on my healing journey.

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the front line:

  •  the GP, general medical doctor
  • school/uni nurse or counsellor
  • parents

what are they missing:

  • the truth/facts about eating disorders
  • how serious they are
  • they are not a passing phase or something else
  • you NEED to act immediately, REGARDLESS!

This month we have 5 new inpatients to our children’s ward, one of which is in the intensive care unit. Why, because local doctors don’t react quickly enough, don’t believe, don’t refer onto appropriate care. The young men and women, then end up so ill that they need hospital care.

Worse parents and sufferers have to find through other means, word of mouth, who to see, what to do to find the appropriate medical assistance.

What does it take to get the message through??? Seriously, do local GP’s just bury their heads in the sand or pretend they know everything!!!!!

Someone asked this week on Tumblr, what happened in the years previous before this enlightened age of eating disorder care. I told her the enlightened age has still not come. Too many are still heading for inpatient treatment because no one will act early enough to help them. Too many are still dying.


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family therapy

As confronting and difficult as it is, getting 3 people in a room to talk about the past, feelings, where things are at the moment for them, is a good thing.

That was us this week. One mum, 2 kids and our counsellor. Sophie found it difficult, she is used to having the space all to herself and didn’t want to share. Will found it also confronting as he isn’t ready yet to talk. I no longer have anything to hide but found it hard to listen to my kids.

No one wanted to talk about dad, but we did get to talk a bit how anorexia stalled our family, and what it meant for brother and sister to live through that. With Will teetering on the edge of an ED it is was more poignant.

However as our counsellor said (and she is right), it’s about hearing, really hearing what is going on for other members of the family. We are all affected by the same events but see and feel them differently. By opening up, we can share, empathise and journey towards wholeness as a family.

It’s never about wiping out the past, but harnessing it and using it for growth and wholeness.

Our counsellor was so thrilled, we all get to do group therapy again next week!

Today Sophie sees the psychiatrist and tomorrow Will sees her. The psychiatrist has rung the dietitian Sophie saw, he has txt me. Our counsellor already knows this. Clearly a lot of phone calls and talking has gone on this week. Meaning, Will is not in a good spot and possibly his bloods have problems. Get those results tomorrow. Once Will is settled on his new medication, we will bring the dietitian into the mix of appointments. Yes it is back to the days of early recovery with Sophie, with rounds of appointments, medications and supplements.

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