Eating disorders take such a huge toll on emotional wellbeing:
- Eating disorders can make it difficult to eat out socially.
- They place strain on relationships (especially on close relationships).
- Eating disorders can make it difficult to concentrate on work or study.
- They affect physical health.
Yet, sometimes people with an eating disorder do not want to recover. This can be a scary prospect for a loved one or health professional caring for someone with an eating disorder. Before we go on to discuss the reasons why someone may not want to recover from their eating disorder, it must be made clear: Recovery is possible for anyone.
Reasons for Not Wanting Recovery
I need my eating disorder.
Sometimes life feels “too tough” and an eating disorder offers a way of coping or gaining control.
My eating disorder keeps me thin.
Fear of weight gain is the most common road block in recovery from an eating disorder. It can be hard to imagine for someone with an eating disorder that a normal diet does not equal weight gain. A lot of time and effort is spent in recovery on retraining eating habits, which helps build confidence that normal eating does not result in weight gain.
But I’m “good” at my eating disorder.
An eating disorder can sometimes offer a sense of achievement and reward. In the absence of other rewards – for example, in relationships or work/study – it can be difficult to give up the “successes” in an eating disorder. “Successes” are usually weight loss, dietary control, exercise and purging.
I don’t know who I am without my eating disorder.
A common fear surrounding recovery is the discovery of a ‘new self’. Like any change in life, it is scary to step away from familiarity and comfort, into the realm of the unknown.
But I don’t have an eating disorder.
Ah, tough one to hear from someone you love and care about! This kind of statement indicates denial or avoidance of their eating disorder. A trained professional can help encourage a change of heart by slowly and gently challenging their beliefs and ideas.
There is no point – I can’t change, I’ve suffered for years.
Unfortunately, this is quite a common experience for people suffering eating disorders. There are a few main reasons for this statement. 1) Often individuals have bounced between a few health professionals who lack experience in eating disorder therapy and treatment. 2) It is common to suffer from an eating disorder for years and not seek help or wish for change, both of which are needed for recovery. 3) Eating disorders tend to last for years rather than months.
The Good News?
Just because someone does not feel ready to recover from their eating disorder, does not mean they cannot recover. A trained health professional who works in the field of eating disorders can help motivate an individual to wish for and want change. Ringing the Butterfly Foundation (1800 33 4673) can be a good start to finding suitable health professionals.
How can Peaceful Mind Psychology help?
We are a team of warm and empathic psychologists based in Melbourne, who share a special interest in eating disorders and eating difficulties, including anorexia, binge eating disorder and bulimia. Our psychologists have experience working with eating disorders in private settings, as well as in hospitals. If you would like some professional assistance contact us at Peaceful Mind Psychology.