Family Visits and the Holiday Season
- Category: Holidays and Special Occasions
People with eating disorders or in early or mid recovery from eating disorders call for help more often during the holidays than any other time.
Family: stimulates feeling bereft or anxious
If you are separated from family for any reason you can feel bereft. At the same time, if you are going to be with family, you can be flooded with anxiety.
The eating disorder behaviors, too much or too little, purge via throwing up or exercise, are defenses against both real and perceived dangers. Unfortunately the person with an eating disorder often cannot tell the difference between real and perceived. She feels vulnerable and actually is unable to take care of herself in many mild as well as severe stressful situations that arise in family gatherings.
*avoid family gatherings.
consequence: feel lonely and abandoned.
*attend family gatherings.
consequence: feel rage, fear and attempt to control others.
*act out your eating disorder, i.e. binge, purge, starve and be obedient.
consequence: you are numb to people and stress. You feel isolated among people, feel guilt, shame and lots of tension.
*call for help and commit to recovery work.
consequence: provides yourself with support, encouragement and tools to withstand your stresses without acting out, begin to develop health and strength so you no longer need the eating disorder to cope with her life including your family.
The good news is that pain aroused during the holidays can waken you to the fact that your issues are not about your personality or will power. Your pain can motivate you to begin or recommit to your recovery work.
Joanna Poppink, MFT, psychotherapist eating disorder specialist, Los Angeles, CA
bulimia, anorexia, compulsive overeating recovery: www.poppink.com