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If you suffer from an eating disorder or are overwhelmed by your relationship with food, it is more than likely you are not a happy person. The pain of your behavior has blocked out most of your ability to feel joy in life. Your emotions may have become so numbed by now that you rarely feel anything at all. Yet, while you think you feel nothing, negative emotions exist within you. They poison your ability to experience personal happiness. Their toxicity despoils life’s simple pleasure.

You may have also become an isolated person. The shame of what you do causes you to withdraw from the company of others. Even if you are a person in a social spotlight, you still hide the truth, the “real” you behind a false façade of “everything’s fine.” You may feel like no one could possibly understand why you do what you do, or how you feel the way you do, so you don’t even try to explain. Perhaps in an off-guard moment in the past, you made an attempt to communicate your feelings to someone, but that person reacted so badly that you never tried to talk about your disorder again.

You may feel so overwhelmed by the shame and despair you feel over your weight and relationship with food, you are afraid to open up and talk about it for fear that once you start, you’ll be unable to stop. You may fear you’ll be misunderstood and judged. So you shut down about the most important things in your life and either don’t communicate at all or hide in plain sight, keeping things superficial and without real substance. Without the free flow of deep personal interaction, you have become emotionally constipated.

It’s not surprising then, that you have become completely demoralized. Who would want to live this way? There’s nothing pleasurable about starving yourself to death, gorging yourself beyond any measure of fullness, bingeing and purging uncontrollably, or eating in such a way to produce feelings of shame and remorse.

Recovery from an eating disorder is a holistic journey, affecting both the physical and emotional bodies. In order to truly address the entirety of your disordered eating pattern, you will need to thaw your feelings, and confront your emotions.

At the beginning, the emotions you reconnect with will seem overwhelmingly negative—anger and sadness…pain and shame. These have been building up behind your wall of denial, and when that wall is breached, those negative emotions are the ones that will come spilling out. After that initial flood, however, the emotional waters will calm and allow other feelings to bubble up to the surface. Joy, wonder, peace, gratitude. These emotions were once parts of your life and can be again, now that the logjam of your anger has been released. These positive, healing emotions will be of tremendous value to you on your road to recovery.

The Center • A Place of HOPE specializes in “whole-person” care, which means that when treating a physical issue like an eating disorder, we help our clients evaluate the mental, spiritual, and emotional components of their lives that may be contributing to, or effected by, the eating disorder. If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, we encourage you to call us at 1-888-771-5166 / 425-771-5166 today.

Excerpts of this blog were taken from Dr. Gregory Jantz’s book Hope Help & Healing for Eating Disorders: A Whole-Person Approach to Treatment of Anorexia, Bulimia, and Disordered Eating.