Bulimia nervosa is characterized by frequent episodes of binge eating followed by inappropriate behaviours such as self-induced vomiting to avoid weight gain.
The frequency of binge eating and compensatory behaviours is once a week according to the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual). The DSM is a Clinician’s manual to the proper diagnosis of mental health conditions as set out by the American Psychiatric Association. Are you restricting your food intake during the day in an attempt to control your weight, which then leads to overwhelming hunger and low blood sugar levels and to you binging on food? Are you then throwing up this food or taking laxatives in an attempt to purge the food and calories from your body to prevent weight gain? If so then you are suffering from Bulimia.
You may feel that getting rid of the food helps you to manage your feelings of sadness, anger, shame, and disgust. However as you know ultimately these behaviours will make you feel worse about yourself and reiterate your initial feelings. Are you living through this alone? Can you talk to anyone? We have met people over the years that have lived alone with this illness for 20 years without telling a soul.
The same is true of Binge Eating Disorder which recently in 2013 has been added to the DSM as its own category of eating disorder. Binge eating disorder is defined as recurring episodes of eating significantly more food in a short period of time than most people would eat under similar circumstances, with episodes marked by feelings of lack of control. Someone with binge eating disorder may eat large quantities of food in an extremely short time period, even when he or she is not hungry. The person may have feelings of guilt, embarrassment, or disgust and may binge eat alone to hide the behaviour. This disorder is associated with marked distress and occurs on average, at least once a week over three months for a formal diagnosis to be established. Again like Bulimia, this way of being in the world allows people on the short term to manage their feelings by keeping them cut off from and zoned out from feelings and memories. Whilst people suffering loath the disorder it also protects some people from intimate relationships which of course may keep them from feeling hurt, disappointed and rejected but again only in the short term. If you consider it they are actually rejecting and hurting themselves in this illness. Why are they so mistrustful of people and why do they feel that everyone will be critical and hurtful to them? Perhaps this has been their life experience particularly as a child. Compassion is the only way forward. Understanding how we are in the world allows us to feel more in control. If you were compassionate to yourself, then why would you gorge/purge or deny your body of food. You simply would not. Therapy will help you have compassion for yourself as an adult and indeed for the younger you.
Anorexia nervosa, is characterized by distorted body image and excessive dieting that leads to severe weight loss with a pathological fear of becoming fat. Anorexia is common in both sexes and seems to have an onset at puberty for most people. Other symptoms can occur with it like perfectionistic traits, obsessional thoughts and behaviours as well as feelings of sadness and anxiety.
In our opinion Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorder allow people to keep away from their core hurt and sadness as the symptoms and disorder take up so much head space that people do not have time to sit with or think about what is really going on for them. Eating Disorders are not about food and that is the approach that we at the Goldsmith clinic take with all our clients. We do our very best to stay away from the food element and spend the time getting to know the person behind the illness. Therapy can and does help people who are struggling with this way of being in the world to firstly understand the real meaning behind their symptoms and then to actually get to a place where they can stop the symptom by cutting themselves some slack and having compassion for themselves in life. Therapy is a compassionate act for you by you. Compassion does not come from within, we are not born with it, it must be given to us by a compassionate other. If our experience of life has been critical and hurtful then it can be very difficult for us as adults to show ourselves kindness, therapy will help you with this. Get in touch with us today to start this journey and get your life back on track.