Change is Possible!
A common and harmful misconception about eating disorders is that you have to live with them in some form for the rest of your life, and just hope you can successfully manage the symptoms. Having an eating disorder is not a natural state. It’s a faulty coping mechanism.Although people can be genetically predisposed to eating disorders, environment is much more influential - about 75% over our genetics. There has been a lot covered in the news lately on the topic stemming from a renewed interest in research about how humans can overcome our genetics. Research has shown that our genetics are, in many cases, a very small part of what influences us.
Much more influential are our life choices, who we surround ourselves with, and our environment. For this reason, I know it is of utmost importance not to collude with an eating disorder patient’s hopelessness and fatalism about having to live with this condition forever.
On the Road to Full Recovery
I’ve been successfully treating eating disorders for over twenty years, and I can tell you firsthand that most people can and do permanently recover.
This is true even of people who have had an eating disorder for most of their lives. I have experienced many people arriving for their first counseling session with me and saying, for example, “I’ve been bulimic for 20 years. There’s no way I can get better. I’m just going to have to live with this and hope it doesn’t get worse for the rest of my life.”
Of course you can understand. If you’ve been living with a terrible problem and just managing it the best you can without the right help and support; you would most likely come to believe that you have no choice but to submit, “give in”, and just do the best you can to manage it.
What I have found, however, is that most of the time these people have never received the right kind of help, or any help at all. They’ve certainly never worked with any eating disorder treatment specialists. In this situation it’s very, very important to keep the hope alive for a person with a chronic eating disorder, even though they feel hopeless.
I often tell my clients,
“Let me hold the hope for you until you can take it back from me - because I know you can get better.”
What About the Cases of People Who Don't Recover?
Having said that, 20% of people with eating disorders don’t get better and some of them die. It is my belief that these 20% don’t recover for several reasons:
- They did not seek any treatment at all
- They did not stay in treatment
- They never got the right help from qualified medical and mental health professionals, and/or
- There was another physical or mental health condition that accelerated the effects of the eating disorder.
It’s very rare, thank goodness, to have someone die or never recover once they find the right help. If this was not the case, I wouldn’t be doing this meaningful work. It would be too sad. And the good news is I’ve seen most people get better, so I’m very hopeful about that.
If you are a therapist, doctor, dietician or other professional working with a patient with an eating disorder, you must “hold the hope” for your client. If someone you love has an eating disorder, get support for yourself so you don’t give in to your loved one’s despair.
They need your help to see the light at the end of the tunnel while they work hard in treatment to get better.
Most important, if you have an eating disorder, even if you have had it for years and years, please know that you can fully recover.
Never give up.
Listen to your instincts about treatment providers – if you feel they are not helping – look elsewhere, and fast. If you have never sought professional help, be brave and make the call. I’ve had clients who held on to my business card for over a year before they picked up the phone and contacted me. Why? Because they were afraid, they thought they could do it on their own, or because they were in too much despair.
If you would like more information on how I help people recover from eating disorders quickly, even if they have had symptoms for years, you can check out my Quick Start Recovery system here. If you’d like to set an in-person, Skype or phone appointment, click here. I will contact you personally, and will help you start your full recovery right away.
Let’s rid the world of eating disorders once and for all!
To your recovery,