Updated: Sep 4, 2020
When I started meeting with my Dietitian to overcome my eating disorder, I thought she would tell me the perfect diet and then send me on my merry way. To my surprise, we did not start talking about food until I had been meeting with her for a few months. She explained to me that there were deep, underlying issues to my eating problem and unless we dealt with those first, I would once again lose the eating battle.
She started by having me separate the eating disorder within me from myself. I had to give it a name and then notice every time my "ED" voice spoke negatively to me, and realized that I was NOT the problem. Then I had weeks of noticing and correcting
my thoughts. It amazed me how well my Dietitian knew the way I thought and acted, because just like everyone else who deals with eating disorders (or other addictions/negative behaviors) my eating disorder was only the surface problem to some deep underlying issues. Just like an iceberg, there is a visible part on top that all can see but the majority of the iceberg is underneath the surface. Too often we try to fix the visible challenges people are dealing with through attacking the issue we can see. It is like getting rid of a tick by ripping its body off, but the part sucking away your blood is still inside you.
My sessions with her continued to dig up my deeper demons and emotional scars that I had used food to cover up. Everyone has their own different underlying factors that affect them in unique ways. I have suffered from anxiety and depression my whole life. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America talks about how, generally speaking, eating disorders coexist with anxiety, depression, and/or PTSD. Both the mental disorders and eating disorders can be treated at the same time, because they are caused by similar factors.
Along with eating disorders, substance abuse is also very closely related to mental disorders. https://www.samhsa.gov/disorders
I did not want to be the girl with a mental illness, so after years of anxiety attacks I started numbing my feelings with food, excessive exercise, and over-productiveness to hide the real issue.
As I began to uncover all my suppressed feelings, it seemed as though my emotions blew up in my face and I could not control them. I continued to try to fight it on my own, but eventually lost the battle. I finally went to the doctor and was explained that my brain is sick. There is nothing I can do on my own to overcome my depression and anxiety until my brain is healed through medicine. I got put on antidepressants, and I FEEL GREAT.
I still have to work to overcome and manage my emotions, but it is actually possible with the medication. All the skills I have learned regarding emotional management ACTUALLY WORK NOW. Reading scriptures actually gives me peace, going for a run clears my mind,
and I am able to catch my anxiety and depression attacks before they get too severe. I admit there are still low moments where I am unable to catch my attacks, and I am still in the middle of my healing process, but I have made so much progress and feel for
all those who are where I started.
Healing is a hard, long, complicated process with a lot of underlying issues that need to be addressed. It cannot be overcome with just one or two steps. I have tried many different therapists, activities, and techniques to manage my emotions and obsessions. But I can honestly say that since I have consciously been working to manage my mental health and other issues ALL areas of my life have improved. I am happier, more confident, have more friends, and am finding out who "McKayla" is. I have been asked on more dates, I spend less time and energy obsessing about my food and looks, and I feel FREE. I wish I could run through the street and tell everyone that it is possible to be confident with who you are. It is possible to overcome your addictions and challenges. It is an ongoing process that can get frustrating when you feel you take two steps forward and one step back, but it is the progress that counts. The journey is more important than the destination.
While disordered eating has been my main issue, after talking with my aunt who went to Alcohol Anonymous to overcome her drinking addition, I found that we experienced similar emotions and tendencies. Our bodies all have different ways of crying for help and we just have to notice them and give ourselves the help we need.