Recovering from an eating disorder, like any other mental health issue, is hard. It takes a commitment to getting better and energy toward that commitment each and every day. So, if you’re living with an eating disorder, you may find that it’s challenging to want to get help, which is normal. Most people with eating disorders struggle to get the help they need, even if they know it’s what they need to do to get healthy. But, why is it so hard for people to give up disordered eating?
If you’re living with an eating disorder and find it hard to accept the fact that you need help, you’re not the only one. It may help to understand that this is a natural occurrence that some scientific researchers find is natural. However, understanding why people with eating disorders struggle to give them up can also help you understand how to overpower these thoughts. And, get the help that you need and deserve to live a healthy and positive life of mental and physical wellbeing.
Eating Disorders Impact the Personal Identity of a Person
One of the biggest challenges that explain why people with eating disorders have such a challenge changing disordered eating behaviors is to deal with identity. In many cases, people living with eating disorders identify their value with their disordered eating. So, changing these behaviors means not being true to themselves. People that experience disordered eating behaviors have lives that revolve around their eating habits. Almost everything they do has something to do with how they eat – where they go, what they do, and even how they think. So, as people with eating disorders think their disorders tie to identity and even their value, this makes it challenging to accept help.
Most people who develop disordered eating behaviors do so during adolescence. During these times in people’s lives, this is the defining moment for the formation of one’s identity. So, when a person who’s young starts developing behaviors of disordered eating, it can begin to become part of their identity as well. Studies published by the NIH (National Institute of Health) have proven this to be true and a contributing factor as to why it’s so hard for people to get help for eating disorders.
Disordered Eating is a Way to Gain Control and Manage Emotions
Another reason that getting help for eating disorders may be so challenging is that disordered eating gives those affected a sense of control in their lives. For many people living with eating disorders, underlying mental health issues may also be at play. These issues, including depression, anxiety, and even trauma, can make a person feel like they don’t have control over their emotions. So, being able to control what they eat and how to eat replaces the lack of control with emotions with this other sense of control. Therefore, people with eating disorders may feel like giving up their eating disordered behaviors means giving up what little they have to control in their lives. And, their means of dealing with unwanted emotions and thought patterns.
Eating Disorders are NOT Your Identity Nor do You Control Them
It’s vital for people who need help with eating disorders to understand that they are not their identity nor do they really have control over these behaviors. During eating disorder treatment, those affected can learn that they’re more than their eating disorder. And, that there are better ways to manage symptoms of underlying mental health issues and controlling unwanted thoughts or emotions, including coping skills learned in therapy.
When people can embrace the thought of living a healthy life and that their identity does not have to include disordered eating, they can make use of treatment. And, commit to a healthy life in eating disorder recovery that provides much more freedom and allows for much more control than a life with eating disorders ever could!