Response to Cry for Help

rescue800px-Sea search and rescue exercise 1Today I received a long post from a woman caught in a desperate tangle of bingeing, starving, guilt, shame and anxiety. She is bewildered by her own experience and frantic to find relief without getting professiona*l help.

I believe she represents many women in a similar position of suffering.

If this is also you, this article may help you.


Reaching Out

Good for you for reaching out. You are suffering and looking for a way to find relief. That's great. You are in the throes of a serious eating disorder. Looking for a way to end an illness suddenly and completely is understandable but not realistic. You need treatment.

Shame Issues
I'm concerned when you use the word "confession." You are describing symptoms. You wouldn't feel shame about "confessing" a fever or lung infection or rash out of guilt and shame, would you? I hope not. Feeling severe pain would lead you to a health practitioner where you would describe your symptoms to help that practitioner help you. Further, I don't think you would expect a word or a one-time meeting to bring an end to your symptoms or your illness. Nor would you expect yourself to heal out of will power and determination.

Bingeing, losing all appetite or needing to binge during holiday visits with family, guilt, shame, quick weight loss diets to stop misunderstood eating disorder eating patterns, throwing food away as an attempt to control a binge and later digging into the trash to find that food and eat it are all symptoms of an eating disorder.

Feeling rushes of anxiety with these symptoms is part of the profile.

Being torn about keeping this emotional and behavioral turmoil secret and sharing it with someone who will offer support and ways to help is part of the pain and frustration of life with an eating disorder.

Past Attempts to Get Help that Didn't Work
I'm sorry to learn that your attempts to see psychotherapists in the past were frightening to you. I wonder how old you were, how the clinicians were selected and what the emotional environment was for your preparation to see them.

Getting Help Now

You are older now, and perhaps in a position to select a psychotherapist based on criteria more of a match with your personal experience. I encourage you to seek professional help from a clinician who knows about eating disorders and who seems warm and trustworthy to you. Looking for short cuts to address your illness will only postpone recovery, and in the meantine your eating disorder can become more painful and disabling.

Resources for Finding an Eating Disorder Psychotherapist

For finding a local psychotherapist who knows about eating disorders please explore these urls. Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center National Eating Disorder Association Academy for Eating Disorders
For finding support groups see: ANAD National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders ~ The oldest national non profit organization dedicated to alleviating the problems of eating disorders and promoting healthy lifestyles.

You can work through to your recovery in my book, Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder. You can also  work the action plan in my (free) Triumphant Journey Workbook . The exercises in the workbook may be helpful to you in preparing to do the deep work necessary for your healing.

I'm going to post a version of my letter to you on my blog. You raise issues that I believe will help others who are not as articulate as you in describing their anguish. Of course I will not reveal your name nor will I post your words to me.

  1.                 What parts of this cry for help are in your experience?
  2.                 What helped you recognize actual help for recovery?
  3.                 How did you begin to use the help offered to you?
  4.                 Do you  have any advice or suggestions to professionals in the field that would have helped you begin treatment?

A sea search and rescue exercise in the port of Cuxhaven, Germany. A castaway is being lifted onto a Sea Lynx MK 88 A helicopter of the German Navy.

Note: Sometimes you need professionals to help you.  Their first step after responding to the call for help, is to get you out o
danger and into a healing environment. 

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