Eating Disorders in Women over 40 (or 50 or 60 or 70 or 80+)
- Category: Culture and Media
Elusive numbers and false beliefs Numbers are elusive in eating disorder statistics. Many people with eating disorders never let themselves be seen or known in a way that will allow their presence to be counted. Every woman over forty who has ever been in my practice for eating disorder recovery believed she was a shameful exception. This belief is not true.
Eating disorders at any age Women of every age can suffer from an eating disorder. An eating disorder can come on at any age. A woman of any age with an eating disorder is understandable and not exceptional, at least not in terms of the illness. An adult woman with an eating disorder feels shame because shame is a symptom, not a personality trait or character trait.
Why the older woman with an eating disorder is not seen Because eating disorders often begin at an early age, the disorder has become associated with pre-teen and adolescence. But an eating disorder can become apparent at any time in a person’s life. An eating disorder in an older woman may go unnoticed or unrecognized because an adult woman has more access than a child to tools that will help her hide, disguise or, sadly, glorify her symptoms. Perhaps if our society recognized this situation more women over forty would come out of hiding. With less shame and more open acknowledgment of their illness they could seek the recovery help that could be theirs and could lead them to greater health and freedom.
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Now, I have 2 young daughters that I hide this disorder from and it is exhausting. It is time for me to find help again because as much as I promise myself everyday that I will not purge - I struggle and fall into the cycle almost every day.
Thank you for your post. Helps not to feel alone.
Over time it evolved to the point that my diet times were v pusnishing and restrictive and conversely my binge times involved enormous amounts of food and constant grazing between.
Reading Joanna's work was what made me realise that I had an ED - that was 10 or more years ago, but I didn't have the courage to do anything about it, it took the birth of my first daughter to make me try to take responsibilty for myself and seek help.
It's been a long road just to get the right referrals and see the right people...I've been passed around for the last 7 years, but I am noe finally seeing a therapist within an eating disorders setting, who has helped me so much.
It's not easy, but I'm grateful now to feel my true emotions and to start to know my true self.
Therapy is such a rocky road, it's forced me to address relationships that I never thought I had the courage to deal with...but it's so empowering too!
As Kym says...it's so worthwhile, and my life now is 100x better when I just lived for my ED.