By: Lindsay Lovell, Care Technician
I never realized how much control an eating disorder can have on an individual until I lived with someone suffering from one. With secret binges, constant lying, calorie counting, food restricting, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors, I tried my hardest to support her as she constantly battled her eating disorder. After seeking professional help as an outpatient at Center For Change and with continuing therapy when she moved out of Utah, my friend no longer suffers from her eating disorder. For so long I was told that once one develops an eating disorder, just like alcoholism, it will remain with that individual always. What a discouraging statement.
Watching my friend go through the process of recovery, and seeing patients recover as a care technician at Center For Change, I now truly believe that anyone suffering from an eating disorder has the power to overcome the apathetic killer. I have come to know many wonderful patients who have high hopes for recovery, but along with those hopes, comes much pain and many emotional battles. Although there are many tears of frustrations after therapy sessions and angry each patient slowly begins to search for and transform into the strong, confident individual that the eating disorder temporarily weakened.
A favorite group therapy session among the patients and care technicians is Ceremonial Group. Emotions run high during this group, but so much is learned and processed. The eating disorder “shrine”, well known among the girls, is a makeshift model made of PVC pipe, that represents the cold and comfortless eating disorder. Through this group therapy session the girls tell the shrine why they are loyal to it. Common answers were, “You promised me love and happiness,” or “You told me that I would be accepted if I was a little thinner;” But the skinnier I got, the less comfort I received, the deeper I sank”. And while they cried out to the shrine, and expressed their loyalties to it, they were required to hold on to the cold, unwelcoming “arm”.
They then are told to let go of the “arm” and tell the shrine in a powerful voice that they have a life without the eating disorder and that they deserve to be happy. “I won’t let you tear me away from my family, or ruin my relationship with my children and husband, anymore,” or “I have a life to live and am going to live it without you!” were among the things said from some of the patients.
Although the grip that the eating disorder illness has on many patients is securely set, the tension releases a little during every group session. Many finally realize and understand that the eating disorder shows no love, no commitments, no comforts to its victims, only coldness and deceit. This experience is empowering and motivating. Hope slowly begins to surface as the women discover new energies and insights during group therapy.
Entering the Center is just the first step a woman has to take toward recovery, but it is a very significant step. It takes courage and dedication to win the battle, but it is a battle well worth it. After seeing many changed lives and my cherished friend recover, I am hopeful for all of the women at the Center. Each woman is affected differently by her eating disorder and may feel that there is no cure or hope, but I am a firm believer that each person that suffers has the capability of overcoming and moving forward with life.
Reviewed and Revised October 2014