The Power of Alternative Solutions in Eating Disorder Recovery Part 2
Is control ever necessary? When a patient is past the point of making their own decisions due to the cognitive limitations that comes along with severe malnutrition, they need to be nourished, so that they can THEN process, make choices and heal. The registered dieticians, and other professional staff I worked with, were astounding at this. With such great care, they literally saved these patients lives. Patients went from not being able to get out of a wheelchair, let alone process any trauma, to becoming a meaningful part of the community and examples to others starting out in recovery. I was in awe of the staff and patients alike.
Solutions, not problems In a favorite book of mine, “The Body Keeps the Score,” Bessel Van Der Kolk says this: “Consider the implications, if you mistake someone’s solution for a problem to be eliminated. Not only are they likely to fail treatment (as often happens in addiction programs), but other problems may emerge.” Eating disorders are (though not the best choice ) in fact solutions. They help people survive traumatic events and feelings when they do not have other tools available. This is where finding alternate solutions can be so life changing and important. Eating disorder patients often are being treated for other comorbid diagnoses such as mental illness, and addiction. Imagine trying to control a symptom by pushing it down. Like in Whac-A-Mole, the issue that is driving the eating disorder is not likely to go away, but rather reemerge through a different opening. This is why, other than in certain cases where life saving measures are necessary, a focus on alternate solutions, rather than controlling the problem, usually works better long-term.
So, now what? You may be reading this and thinking, “So, what do I do? Do I go to a treatment center? Do I get a therapist?” My approach? Look at what the eating disorder is doing for you now and ask yourself if you would be willing to look into alternative solutions that would provide you with the same benefits, and maybe cost you a little less. Get support. Take that step, realizing you won’t and cannot do it perfectly. No one can heal and change all by themselves. I definitely couldn’t. There is help available. You are worth it and you are not alone!
Caron Cordes, MSPsy, EDIT
Caron is a trained life coach who specializes in helping people who are struggling or in recovery for eating disorders. Having utilized therapists and life coaches in her own healing, she offers an empathetic, client-directed approach to healing with experience in faith transitions, depression and anxiety, trauma and eating disorders.