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Having been on the receiving end of many of these phrases and been made to feel like it is my burden alone to carry, it is time many of our called Christian favourite pull-out phrases go under the microscope. We tout these out making us feel like we have responded in a caring, Christian manner when in fact we have only added to the isolation and pain. Some of the responses below aren’t even biblical. Like many other sayings, they have come about from home spun, pull yourself up theology. I never want to be on the receiving end of these again, nor do I want to ever find myself saying them to someone in painful, messy, traumatic circumstances. Instead I hope to offer practical help, just turn up with the cleaning gear, the meal, the hug and never ever offer empty phrases or wait to be asked to help out. It also means forgiving those, who in their narrowness and inabilities, didn’t intentionally mean to harm. And hope through grace and maturity will grow to be more caring and embracing of pain in others.

Marilyn R. Gardner

crisis

  1. God will never give you more than you can handle. While some may believe it is theologically correct, depending on your definitions, it is singularly unhelpful to the person who is neck-deep in a crisis, trying to swim against a Tsunami. A wonderful phrase recently came from Support for Special Needs. They suggest changing this from “God will never give you more than you can handle” to “Let me come over and help you do some laundry.” This strikes me as even more theologically correct.
  2. It gets better. Yes, yes it does. But right then, it’s not better. And before it gets better, it may get way worse.
  3. When God shuts a door, he opens a window. Maybe, but maybe not. Maybe he just shuts a door. Maybe there is no window. There was no window for Job. There was a cosmic battle that raged as he sat in distress. There…

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feelings and anorexiaThere is a blog doing the rounds at the moment of how it is to feel during an eating disorder, particularly anorexia. It is a haunting read. Many of us, either parents/carers or sufferers relate to every feeling. It highlights where we are or have been. We can shout, YES! we agree with all of that.

But we need to balance out what is the need for validation and the need for truth. Every story about living and surviving, or living and still struggling with an eating disorders needs validation. They are your personal journey, your personal thoughts and feelings. Validation is essential, otherwise it takes away your value as a person. It makes your journey a real one. It also helps those of us who don’t suffer with an ED to understand what is going on in the mind of someone who does. It helps those who suffer to know they are not alone nor in some weird, hateful universe of their own making.

The truth of these feelings though is what is needs to be understood. In the depth of the grip of an eating disorder (particularly anorexia), the mind is totally in the control of the ED. It is manipulated, distorted and controlled. Normal perceptions, thoughts and feelings are not happening. What you think and feel is based solely upon the eating disorder and not based in truth or reality. The ED distorts reality, life, decisions and perceptions so badly that your feelings get mixed into this mess as well. It may seem like truth, that this is all there is and it is real. But once you are on the other side, into recovery or recovered, you can see these feelings were not based on truth. Life is not like that, the people around you are not like that, you are not like that.

All mental health illnesses distort our perceptions and govern our thoughts and feelings. When I am severely depressed I know I think all sorts of weird, paranoid, self-inflicting thoughts. I feel many things but none of them based on the reality around me. It’s when I am back in safer lands that I realise that those feelings were not true nor indicative of what was happening to me or around me. My daughter used to think and feel like this current highlighted blog post, but she will tell you now that she knows those feelings to be just about all false. That it was the anorexia that coloured everything and gave her those dreadful feelings.

A good therapist will hear your feelings and validate them. They will allow you to identify and explore your feelings.

A better therapist will THEN point out the ED behaviour and teach you to separate yourself from the negative and distorted feelings.

Our whole team based their care of my daughter on this. They called each anorexic thought, feelings and behaviour into the open and pointed out how false and wrong they were. Without taking away my daughter’s need to be heard or validated.

She never felt she had to apologise for her feelings or she was wrong for feeling them. She did learn that the anorexia had given her thoughts and feelings that were not true about herself and life around her. She learnt to counter each negative feeling with a positive one.

When writing our stories, we need to be mindful that we show that these feelings are only for here and now in the grip of the illness. We need to put forward what happens after therapy and into recovery, that our feelings change and we see things for more differently as the ED loses it’s grips. We need to ensure that our stories are not ‘blanket’ approaches, one size fits all. Above all we need to share that hope lives and that the negative, destructiveness of an eating disorder does not last.

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