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If you suffer from an eating disorder now or have in the past, please email Joanna for a free telephone consultation.


Eating Disorder Recovery
Joanna Poppink, MFT
Eating Disorder Recovery Psychotherapist
serving Arizona, California, Florida, Oregon and Utah.
All appointments are virtual.

Feeling Alive and Hopeful

My last post brought healthy eating into connection with love, appreciation for life and gentleness with body and soul. If you have an eating disorder, you’ve probably had glimpses of this experience and continue draw hope from these glimpses. However, anyone with an eating disorder of any kind knows that such feelings are out of awareness during the urge to binge or the urge to actively control anything or anyone.

Feeling Like a Thing and Hopeless

When the binge or the bone cracking hours of treadmill running are over, when the empty candy and cookie wrappers litter the room, when friends and family are distant because of demanding manipulative remarks and actions, the person with an eating disorder feels ashamed, guilty and like a failure.

What Happened?

What happened? Where was the awareness of love and kindness for self, food and others? How did the you become a driving thing, afraid and warding off more fear and pain by using anything you could to get through your experience? During the glimpse of beauty and health, the desperate need to use is just as far away and non-existent and the good feelings are during binge times. It’s as if the person’s mind or emotions or personality or even identity itself are divided and not in communication at all.

Bridging the Two

This consistent aspect of eating disorders has me thinking about bridges and bridge building. Healing from the bottom up is required for eating disorder recovery. Picking up from where the person left off developmentally and proceeding on a healthy psychological developmental path is required.

However, It seems to me that a fundamental piece of this complex business of thorough healing from an eating disorder involves bridge building. With a bridge the person, without being in harmony with herself or sustained by a sense of spiritual aliveness, could still hold on to reality. She could have, at least a chance, to gain a foothold on emotionally stable ground. Even if one side of awareness could just just throw a line to the other, it would be a powerful start.

Importance of the Link

As I think more I can imagine your asking, why would someone want a line from the binge side when the person is in the lovely love side? Good question, and maybe pivotal.

Part of the answer may be that we need to respect and embrace ourselves as whole complex individuals. We each contain the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. How to hold our own complexity and so experience ourselves as neither extreme saints nor sinners, but as humans full of ambiguities and paradoxes is a great challenge for all of us.

Holding of both or all sides of experience and identity is  important during the process of psychotherapy and eating disorder recovery . In fact in psychotherapy many people discover for the first time that such a way of carrying themselves in the world is even possible.

A little bit of heaven in hell and a little bit of hell in heaven allows recognition and communication between the two worlds. It's the basis of internal bridge building. It's what helps us connect and understand each other as well as ourselves.

Creating and using your internal bridge allows knowledge from both realms to join in a more powerful and healthy way of being in the world. When you can simultaneously hold awareness of your feeling of aliveness as well as your need to binge you begin to develop the ability to ward off extreme highs and lows, stay aware and be present for your own experience. I'll be thinking and writing more about internal bridge building. I hope you'll share your thoughts and experiences about this area of eating disorder recovery work.

A mind not to be chang’d by place or time. The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.

John Milton (1608–1674) Paradise Lost. Book i. Line 253.

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