Tag Archives: Stress

Withdraw in Prayer

“But whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” (Proverbs 1:33 NIV)

I found the above verse in yesterday’s devotion for dieters. Since the verse was taken out of context, I decided to read the entire chapter. Proverbs is in the Old Testament, which to me, who knows very little about the Bible, mostly means it’s based in fear. Before Jesus, people were taught to fear the Lord, and those who did so were seen as wise. That’s also what this chapter seems to say.

However, this particular verse is quite positive. The author of the devotional uses it to make the point that, when we are troubled, we can and should turn to the Lord in prayer.

As I wrote in an old reflection, Jesus himself suffered human temptation. There were, like the author of the devotion for dieters says, also many times when he was persecuted. He didn’t answer in destructive ways, either by attacking the people who persecuted him or by giving in to temptation. Rather, he withdrew and prayed.

The people of the Old Testament may have had a hard time turning to God, because God hadn’t forgiven humanity yet. At least, if I lived in the time of Proverbs 1, I’d not be led to turn to God for guidance that easily, despite what is written in the last verse. However, through Jesus, we can be assured that a loving God will guide us and help us overcome the pressures of life and our human temptation. Jesus knows what it’s like to be under pressure and he also knows what it is like to resist temptation – successfully. By turning to our Lord and Heavenly Father when under stress, he set an example.

Willpower, as I said last month, is the will to turn over the reigns of our life to God. We don’t have to do this thing called life alone.

I have been doing okay’ish in the eating disorder and self-harm departments lately, despite having been under a lot of pressure. In part, this is because I’ve been withdrawing from the pressures of daily life more. That still doesn’t mean I’ve turned myself over to God. I withdraw into ordinary things, like books, writing, pampering myself with body care products, etc. I don’t say this is wrong, but it isn’t doing anything but temporarily distracting me from the pressures of life.

God can help us truly overcome our suffering. He teaches us to pray and, as is written in Proverbs 1:33, listen. If we listen for God’s guidance, we may realize that He will take care of us. I’m not there yet. I’m working on it, praying about it though.

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A Letter to My Body

Dear body,

I am sorry. I have not been taking good care of you lately. I have not been exercising regularly, have been binge eating a lot and have slept at all the wrong moments and been awake at night.

Of course, I could blame my eating disorder and see it as something entirely separate from myself. I could blame the holiday season. I could blame the winter blues (or general blues, since I’m not sure if it’s seasonal at all) for my laziness regarding exercise, my increase in binge eating and my poor sleeping habits. Then again, that’d be avoiding my responsibility.

Sometimes, I feel as though you don’t deserve to be taken care of. I feel you’re ugly, fat and unheathy anyway. You’re fat, but at least my husband doesn’t consider you ugly and you could be a lot less healthy than you are.

Besides, right now I don’t have as poor an image of you as I had before. I like my skin feeling softer when I apply shower cream, then scrub it, then apply body butter. I particularly even like my belly, which is the part you seem to be storing most of your fat.

I want you to know there’s nothing you did to deserve me stuffing you with binge food and depriving you of the exercise and sleep you need. I’m stressed, but you didn’t cause me to be stressed. I’m slightly depressed, but you didn’t cause me to be depressed.

So I want to thank you for being relatively healthy while I don’t take as good care of you as I should. All your major functions (except for vision of course) are intact. You keep your vitamin and mineral levels okay. You haven’t developed diseases like diabetes or heart disease in spite of your obesity, caused by my lack of proper care. You are okay.

As I said, I could look at your negative attributes: your not being as fit as I’d like you to be, your causing me acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome and random pains and aches. Then again, whether it’s you causing me these problems or me causing you these problems, could be debated. The thing is, I can’t change your functions without taking better care of you first.

As dialectical behavior therapy also teaches, I can’t change you witout accepting you as you are first. You are okay as you are. Now I can work on improving you.

Yours,
Astrid

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Mom's Small Victories

Hurricane #WotW

Yesterday, I bought the book Women and Girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder by Sarah Hendrickx. I have been on the verge of crying as I read it. Hendrickx starts the book by recounting her meeting with her son’s autism diagnostician, whom she tells that she herself has autism too. The doctor doesn’t believe her, because she can hold down a two-way conversation. Wham! I heard that exact same stereotype countless times before. Hendrickx replied that maybe it’s because she’s an adult and a woman.

Last Wednesday, I was trying to communicate the mind-blowing chaos of thoughts and emotions and sensations in my head that is casuing me to have great difficulty functioning. I’ve tried to communicate this ever since I entered the mental health system in 2007, but it doesn’t seem like this is of any importance to my staff or treatment team. My psychologist put it down as rumination in an E-mail to the psychiatrist, because I asked for a med review. The “hurricane in my mind” led to a crisis yesterday. For whatever reason, a psychologist – one I hadn’t met before – was sent to talk to me today. Usually this means I’m in big trouble, but he didn’t threaten any consequences.

I’m not sure whether an unquiet mind is common with autism or whether it’s purely a borderline thing. I sense that it’s more to do with my autism, because it is not the content of my thoughts that is distressing, but the chaos the thoughts, emotions and sensations create. As such, it is particularly hard to communicate.

Unfortunately, my unit is not equipped to deal with autism and I appear to function too well to be getting autism-specialized support. The autism center’s entire recommendation was thrown into the bin by my psychologist and now I’m stuck being sent to a treatment team for personalty disorders. I won’t say I don’t have BPD too, but I also have autism and need support for this. Unfortunately, because I can hold down a two-way conversation, the team thinks I’m not all that autistic at all. Maybe that’s because I’m an adult and a woman.

After all, I was utterly incapable of holding down a two-way conversation even when in high school. As I’ve shared before, I am perhaps the opposite of the old DSM-IV autism criterion which says that autistics do not spontaneously share their feelings or interests. Hendrickx does point out that autistic girls may superficially appear quite sociable, but show self-centeredness on a deeper level. That’s exactly me.

But I don’t care about behavior, at least not anymore. Medication has sedated me enough that I don’t exhibit many troublesome behaviors anymore. Perhaps this means I can now come across relatively normal, but I don’t feel normal at all.

Another thing that’s annoying about this is people constantly attributing thought processes to me that aren’t there. For example, when I reacted with irritability at a psychotic man on my unit who constantly talks to his voices, I was told that I should try to imagine what it’d be like to hear voices all the time. I can’t imagine what that’s like, though I do understand it must be very distressing, but my irritability was not out of anger with this guy. It was just that I was utterly overwhelmed. And just so you know: thinking that the hurricane in my mind is just a breeze, doesn’t make it disappear.

Due to the stress of making arrangements for moving to the tiny village, the hurricane, the chaos in my mind, has been particularly strong this week. Therefore, I choose “hurricane” as my word of the week.

The Reading Residence

Mental Illness: Nature or Nurture? #Write31Days

31 Days of Mental Health

Welcome to the seventh installment of the 31 Days of Mental health series. Today, I picked another of the 30 questions from the 30-day awareness challenge: do you believe nature (biology, physiology, etc.) or nurture (your psychosocial environment) causes mental illness? I am very tired, too tired to find the scientific evidence to back my post up with. will share what I do know off the top of my head, but please don’t ask me to cite my sources.

In medicine in general, there used to be a strictly nature-based model of illness and health. This determined that biological and physiological processes in the body caused illness and there was no contribution of psychological or social influences. This model is called the biomedical model and my health psychology book used it to describe the history of views on physical illness.

In mental illness, there have been many schools of thought that laid blame on the environment, in fact. For example, Freud blamed fixations in one’s psychosexual development for mental illnesses. The school of behaviorism also blamed the environment. Watson, the founding father of behaviorism, at one point said that, if given a handful of babies at birth to raise, he’d be sure he could make whatever you wanted the babies to become from them purely by processes of conditioning (behavioral learning).

It is interesting that there is such a distinction between the biomedical views on physical illness and the psychosocial views on mental illness. After all, though religion may say otherwise, scientists usually see the mind as part of the body. At least the brain is and dysfunction in the brain can cause mental disorders.

I currently study healht psychology at university. Health psychology feels illness as resulting from an interplay of biological, psychological and social factors. Again, they usually study physical illness, but I must say I believe the same goes for mental illness.

I remember when I was still diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder reading a scientific article that said in part that the role of psychological trauma in the cause of what is often diagnosed as DID may be less significant than people think. They used the analogy of borderline personality disorder, which they said most people diagnosed with DID truly have. BPD is commonly thought of as a developmental trauma disorder, but research shows that there may be genetic and other biological factors predisposing to its development. Then again, trauma researchers have made it very clear that trauma and other strong environmental factors alter the brain.

I personally tend to believe there is not a single mental illness that is solely caused by nature or nurture. There are illnesses where biology is the main causative factor, such as schizophrenia, and illnesses where psychosocial factors are the main cause, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. However, stress can trigger psychosis in vulnerable people and trauma only causes PTSD in some of its victims, presumably those biologically predisposed to PTSD.

As for my own mental illness, there are biological factors predisposing me to developing mental disorders. Though I don’t have any family members diagnosed with a mental illness, autistic traits run in my family. NOw again I don’t see autism as a mental illness, but autistic people are more vulnerable to mental illnesses than neurotypicals. I also was a preemie, which may’ve caused brain dysfunction. Lastly, though none of my famly members are mentally ill, a difficult temperament tends to run in my family.

As for psychosocial factors, I am a childhood trauma survivor. I also have had high levels of stress in my life, possibly due to the incongruence between my autistic self and the neurotypical environment. It was a stressful event that sent me over the edge, but it was probably biology that predisposed me to vulnerability to stress.

Common Myths About Irritable Bowel Syndrome

In 2013, I was provisionally diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) after no other cause for my chronic abdominal pain and alternating diarrhea and constipation had been found. I don’t have a severe case of it, having mild to moderate abdominal pain a few times a week but rarely severe pain. I am usually not significantly disabled by my symptoms either. I also happen to respond quite well to mebeverine (Colofab), an antispasmodic that relaxes the bowel muscles. Nonetheless, it is frustrating that there are still many common misconceptions about IBS. Here, I will share some of these.

1. IBS is just a fancy way of saying abdominal pain. It is true that the diagnosis of IBS is commonly based on symptom assessments and exclusion of other disorders, since there is no laboratory test to prove someone has IBS. However, IBS has many symptoms other than abdominal pain, and besides, the abdominal pain suffered by IBS patients is chronic and can be severe. It is not like, if you have bowel cramps for a day, you have IBS. Other core symptoms of IBS are diarrhea and/or constipation, feeling bloated, straining or urgency to defecate. Many sufferers have additional fatigue, acid reflux, etc.

2. IBS is all in the head. It is unclear what causes IBS, and stress could be a factor. That doesn’t mean it’s all in the head though. Stress can cause physical symptoms that are no less real just because stress causes them. It is also correct that IBS is associated with problems in the communication between the brain and the gut, but that could be both a brain and a gut problem. For example, people with IBS may be hypersensitive to abdominal discomfort. This however does not mean they choose to be in pain or are overreacting. It is an interplay between biological and psychosocial factors that cause people to experience the symptoms of IBS.

3. There is no clear definition of iBS. Like I said, there is no test for IBS, but there is a definition. For several decades, the Rome criteria have been in use for determining who has IBS. These criteria require that patients have had recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort at least three days per month during the previous three months that is associated with two
or more of the following:


  • Relieved by defecation.

  • Onset associated with a change in stool frequency.

  • Onset associated with a change in stool form or appearance.


When these criteria are met, only limited tests are recommended based on the individual’s situation. In my own case, it was hard to determine whether I met these criteria, as my pain certainly wasn’t relieved by defecation and I wasn’t sure of the other two.

4. IBS is caused by poor diet and lifestyle. Just [insert lifestyle habit or diet here] and you’ll be fine. While some people have food sensitivities that contribute to their abdominal discomfort, others do not. Also, indeed, some people find that exercisng more, not drinking alcohol, not smoking, etc. helps them. Others do not. Besides, even for those who do find that their diet or lifestyle contributes to their IBS symptoms, it may not be easy or may even be extremely hard to adjust their lifestyle or diet. I for one seem to be sensitive to sugary foods, but, as regular readers of my blog will know, I cannot seem to stop eating too much candy.

5. My [family member’s, friend’s, …] IBS was cured by [intervention], so yours can be cured too. Every person with IBS is different, and because many things contribute to IBS symptoms, there are many possible treatments. Mebeverine, the antispasmodic I use on occasion, has few side effects, but also is not very effective with most people. I am lucky that it helps me somewhat, but others wll not find relief from their symptoms with it. Same for diet, lifestyle changes, other medications (eg. antidepressants), psychological interventions, etc. They work for some but not othes.

6. IBS is the same as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Inflammatory bowel disease refers to Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. These are diseases which cause chronic inflammation to the digestive tract. Though some IBS sufferers have minor inflammation, especially if their symptoms set on after infection, it is not nearly as bad as with IBD. I for one had elevated calprotectin, an inflammation marker, when I was first tested for this. This led the doctor to think I might have IBD and get me a colonoscopy. Turns out I didn’t have IBD and on later tests, my calprotectin was normal again. It could’ve been I had an infection contributing to my symptoms.

7. IBS increases the risk of colon cancer. This is another difference between IBS and IBD: while IBD patients have a markedly increased risk of developing colon cancer, IBS patients do not.

8. IBS is not a serious concern. It is true, like I said above, that IBS does not cause cancer or suchlike. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not serious. Many people with irritable bowel syndrome find their symptoms to be severe and disabling. Besides, because IBS is so often misunderstood, many people experience social stigma. This can lead to further suffering. Get educated and stop stigmatizing people who have IBS.

Everyday Gyaan
Mums' Days

Ten Reasons I’m Glad I’m Done with School

September 1 marks the official start of the school year in the Netherlands. Though I still take classes through the Open University, I’ve been out of high school for ten years this year and dropped out of full-time univeristy in 2007.

One of Mama’s Losin’ It’s prompts for this week is to write a top ten list of reasons you’re glad you’re done with school. Though I was good at academics, I hated most of school. Here are my top ten reasons why I’m glad it’s over with.


  1. No more homework. I do get to do assignments for my Open University classes, but they’re all self-directed.

  2. No more finals weeks. I haven’t taken an OU exam in years, but plan to at the end of this year. Then again, that’s only one exam. I hated finals week, when the weather was usually bright, my birthday was coming up and I had to study for eight+ exams.

  3. No more carrying my heavy backpack everywhere I go. Of course, my computer and Braille display are much lighter now than they were back in the day, but I still don’t like having to carry them. Not being in school anymore means I only carry my backpack when I go to my husband’s – and actually even then it’s most of the time my husband carrying it.

  4. No more student theses. I hated the high school graduationt project, which my father described as similar to his first research in college. My husband took a few weeks or maybe even days doing all the research and writing for his, but my graduation project took me a year full of stress. I did it on a subject my supervising teacher hadn’t even heard of, namely the philosophical movement of British Idealism. The Internet didn’t have much information on this – so little that my project, once it was up, was for a long time second in Google -, and I couldn’t read eBooks yet. My mother did scan some material, but it was hard work overall. I’ve never done student theses in college. Though I’d like to have one finished, I imagine I’d hate the stress leading up tto the finished product.

  5. No more deadlines unless I set them myself. That isn’t entirely true, of course, since my treatment isn’t indefinite. However, the deadlines we get here are a lot less strict than those set forth in school (or in work, I imagine). I did just set a goal of writing a blog post every week day in September, but I set this goal myself.

  6. Less pressure. Sure, we have social media and the competition amongst bloggers, as well as the pressure from peers and staff to recover from our mental illnesses. As I write this, I’m crying my eyes out because I was just told that going at my own pace isn’t possible in this era anymore. However, the pressure to go far beyond my limits was worse in high school.

  7. Less bullying. I was both a bully and a victim in elementary school and a victim again in secondary school. Though I can’t say bullying has been totally over with since I left school, it’s far less. Also, people are much more likely to stand up for the victim now.

  8. More time to unwind. When I was in school, I’d often had a six-hour school day followed by three to four hours of homework, sometimes more. I was slow at doing my homework, so it probably wasn’t meant to be that much. At least, I’ve heard that a normal homework load is ten minutes for each grade (ie. ten minutes in first grade and two hours in your senior year of high school). I do of course not have a job, so this allows me more tiem to myself, but even when I did the intensive blindness rehabilitation program, I had more time to unwind than in school.

  9. I don’t feel as lonely anymore. This may not have had to do with school per se, and may’ve been more due to my age. I have grown to a ppreciate the interaction that I do get and not constantly grieve the fact that I don’t have any friends (other than my husband).

  10. No more graduation ceremonies. I hated my high school graduation ceremony. My father and tutor convinced the principal not to create a whole circus glorigying the school for having helped a blind student graduate. Nonetheless, I just hated the implicit expectations of excellence that come with graduation. The evening I got my foundation in applied psychology certificate was much more laid-back.


What do you appreciate most about not being in school anymore?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Everyday Gyaan

Strategies for Relaxation

If you haven’t figured it out already, I need to make a confession: I am very easily stressed out. As I wrote on Thursday, I have been on or over the edge of a meltdown a couple of times lately. Since we are discussing what helps us relax on the spin cycle this week, I thought I’d list a couple of things.

1. Mindfulness and meditation. I do guided meditations every once in a while. Simply focusing on my breathing for a bit also helps. It is important not to make yourself do anything other than focus. If your attention drifts off, notice it and go back to focusing on the meditation or your breathing. You can also use a mantra.

2. Yoga. I discussed this before. Yoga can be hard when you do difficult poses, but remember yoga is for everyone. If you can’t do a certain pose exactly as experienced yogis do it, there is usually a way to adapt it to make it easier. That way, you are practising self-care, which is important in relaxation.

3. Essential oils. I own an AromaStream essential oil diffuser. It doesn’t use water or heat, so can be left on without supervision or even when you’re sleeping. There are many oils that are thought of as having relaxing properties. Examples are chamomile, lavender, bergamot, ylang ylang and jasmine. You can of course make diffuser blends.

4. Herbal teas. I have discussed these a few times. I find particularly chamomile, lavender and valerian root relaxing. St. John’s wort is thought of as having antidepressant properties.

5. Soothing music or sounds. I find that, while music that’s a little more upbeat helps cheer me up, if I truly need to relax, I benefit from nature sounds and soft music.

6. Blankets. I still need to buy myself a weighted blanket. However, lots of regular blankets also do the trick of helping me relax.

What helps yu relieve stress and relax? I’d love to read your responses in the comments or in a post of your own. Why not link it up with the spin cycle?

Calm: The Power of Mindfulness

This week, I’m participating in #theprompt once again. I am rather late, because I was quite busy with other things over the week. For example, on Wednesday, I had an intake interview at the country’s top notch autism center, which happens to be in my town. They are hopefully going to assess my needs and provide recommendations for when my husband and I will be living together.

The meeting was quite intense. However, I have been able to feel relatively calm lately thanks to practising mindfulness. Since this week’s prompt is “calm”, I am going to share some information about mindfulness and how it’s helping me.

Mindfulness is, as far as I understand, more or less a western, popular term for meditation. This is at least one type of mindfulness, the type that I practise when stressed. It involves trying to sit with my thoughts, feelings and bodily sensatiosn without judgment. You can try to focus on one aspect of your experience, such as your breathing. When distracted, you should not waste energy on fighting the distraction, but simply notice it and return to paying attention to your breathing.

Any activity can be done mindfully. For example, you might notice that you start eating and suddenly the entire plate or packet is empty and you didn’t realize you ate this much. Mindfulness teaches us to be aware of what we’re doing, feeling or thinking.

Mindfulness does not eliminate life’s pressures, but it helps us look at these pressures with more clarity and less judgment. For example, when you’re eating, you might think about all the calories you’re consuming rather than simply noticing the act of eating.

Mindfulness will also teach us to respond more adequately to experiences. This is achieved by creating a gap between the experience and our reaction to it, as in the example above. Mindfulness can help me actually enjoy food rather than binge on it.

In the example of the autism center meeting, I was constantly worried about what if I had to be re-assessed for autism all over again and what if my parents had to be involved and what if they were going to convince the professionals that nothing was wrong and what if… You get the idea. By being mindful, I would look more objectively at the meeting, which went quite well. However, I’d also sit with my present thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations without judgment. For example, I’d be conscious of my butt touching the chair or bed, my breathing, my current emotions, etc.

At this very moment, I am relatively calm. My fingertips touch the keyboard as I type this blog post. My bum and back touch the chiar as my toes touch the floor (my chair is too high for my entire feet to touch the floor). I could be thinkign about how the car broke down again yesterday. I could be worrying about all the stress of possibly buying a new one. Instead, I let these thoughts go by without judgment. I don’t fight them, but I don’t give them extra special attention either. It doesn’t mean the car isn’t broken or that we don’t have the pressure of buying a new one, but what use is there in worrying about this now that I’m writing?

Mindfulness can be useful in dealing with emotional stress, as in the examples above. It can also help in dealing with physical symptoms, such as pain. After all, we often tend to make the symptoms worse by worrying about them. If I feel an ache, the ache is usually not so all-encompassing that it in itself overpowers every other sensation. There are exceptions of course, but in most cases, the effects of pain get amplified by our thoughts about this pain. Again, what use is there in thinking about an ache? Will it lessen the ache? Quite likely not, and it will distress me. So I notice the ache but don’t give it more attention than it deserves. Of course, we do need to pay just enough attention to pain to take appropriate care, but particularly for chronic, largely untreatable and/or intractable pain, mindfulness can definitely help lessen its impact.

mumturnedmom

Ways to Unwind #TuesdayTen

Yesterday, my psychologist, the staff and I had a meeting to discuss how we could better cooperate. It was a good meeting, but still I was a bit anxious beforehand. We discussed ways in which we could keep the lines of communication open instead of getting stuck on negativity, and how the staff could help me prevent piling up stress. I do have a crisis prevention plan, but it is pretty useless once I’m already in the dark orange or red state. So preventing me from getting this stressed is key.

Today’s Tuesday Ten theme comes in a timely manner. It is Nationnal Hammock Day (in the U.S.). Having lay in a hammock a handful times on vacation, I can totally attest to its relaxing effects. Then again, we don’t have one ready here to lie in when I’m stressed, so I have to come up with other ways to relax. Here are ten:


  1. Writing. Writing has always been an activity I used to unwind. I was an avid storywriter in my teens, but unfortunately lost that skill. Since I got an Internet connection, I started writing for a wider audience. It can be stressful when I “have to” write a blog post, but it can be deeply relaxing when I write from my muse. I also continued writing for just me until I few years back, and really need to start the offline journal again.

  2. Some crafts. Like with writing, crafting can be frustrating. However, crafts that I find easy such as stringing beads on a wire or basic looming are quite a good way to focus my attention on something else while not needing so much concentration that it becomes frustrating.

  3. Fidgeting. I used to be reprimanded a lot for playing with my hair or fidgeting in other ways. I’ve basically stopped caring and my parents are not here to dictate that I cannot fidget anyway. I love playing with my handmde jewelry.

  4. Coffee. Okay, I know that caffeine isn’t supposed to be good when you want to relax, but I consider drinking a nice cuppa quite relaxing.

  5. Herbal tea. For a bit of balance when I’ve drunk too much coffee. Particularly chamomile tea has relaxing properties, but I usually blend different herbs because the act of brewing my own tea is relaxing in itself.

  6. Music. I don’t tend to listen to music while doing other things, such as writing. When I do listen to music, I usually “dance” to it as I listen to the lyrics. I find this quite a help in thinking without getting stressed.

  7. Talking it out. I find that talking about what makes me stressed helps when I worry a lot. I also find that a chat about something that interests me also helps me refocus my attention.

  8. Taking a shower or bath. I love bathing, and can’t fathom that I’ve never used the bathtub on my ward in over a year of being here. A hot shower (except when it’s hot outside like now) usually does the trick too.

  9. The Internet. I love to unwind online. I’m not sure whether it’s a blessing or a curse that most online games are not accessible to my screen reader. I however like playing mindless word games on Internet forums, too.

  10. Spending time outside. I practically cannot take walks outside on my own, but the nurses sometimes take me on walks. We also have a nice garden that I like to sit in when the weather is nice.


The Golden Spoons

The Five Stages of Grief in the Recovery Process from Binge Eating

When browsing blogs on mental health on Mumsnet, I came across a blog on recoveyr form alcoholism. While there, I found a post on the five stages of grief in substance abuse. You are probably familiar with Elisabeth Küber-Ross’ five stages of grief in bereavement. These same stages apply to some extent to those recovering from an addiction:


  • Denial: people feel that they do not have a problem concerning alcohol or substances. Even if they do feel as if they might have a small problem, they believe that they have complete control over the situation and can stop drinking or doing drugs whenever they want.

  • Anger at the fact that the addict has an addiction or at the fact that they can no longer use alcohol or drugs.

  • Bargaining: the stage where people are trying to convince themselves or others that they will stop substance abuse in order to get out of trouble or to gain something.

  • Depression: sadness and hopelessness, which usually happen during the withdrawal process from alcohol or drugs.

  • Acceptance, not merely as in admitting you have a problem with alcohol or drugs. Acceptance involves actively resolving the addictioon.

I do not have an alcohol or drug problem, but I do exhibit disordered eating. I wonder to what extent these stages of grief apply to the recovery process from eating disorders, in my case mostly binge eating. Denial is certainly common in individuals with all types of disordered eating. I for one was in the stage of denial up until quite recently. This is not merely not being aware of the problem, like I was in early adolescence. Rather, from my teens on, I did realize to some extent that my eating habits weren’t normal. I remember one day buying five candy bars at once and eating them all in one go. When my classmates pointed out that this was outrageous, I shifted from lack of awareness of my eating disorder into denial.

As I said, I stayed in denial for years. I continued buying sausage rolls for lunch every single day until the end of high school, then at blindness rehab ate candy and chips everyday. I gained rougly ten pounds in those four months at blindness rehab, thereby reaching the upper limit of a healthy BMI.

It took several more years before I moved into the stage of anger. By 2008, I was convinced I would die young, and my unhealthy eating habits were one reason for this. I hated myself and my body, yet didn’t stop eating unhealthy amounts of candy. If anything changed at all, I binged more.

I don’t know how I maintained a relatively healthy weight until 2012, but I did. I did start purging in 2011, which can be seen as either a response to anger or a form of bargaining. After all, bargaining can also be seen as trying to reduce the (effects of the) addiction while not completely trying to abandon it.

I reached overweight status in 2012, then obese a few months ago. I started going to a dietician in 2012, then quit going again, went back in the fall of 2013, quit again, and recently started going again. I am still at the stage of bargaining regarding my disordered eating. When told I just need to stop buying candy, I object. Instead, I want to lessen my candy consumption, keep it under control. Yet isn’t the whole point of an addiction not the substance, but the lack of control? I know that one difference between food and alcohol or drugs is that you can’t completely abandon food, and my dietician said that getting fruit or veggies within easy reach as a substitute for candy, is unlikely to work. After all, I’m going to keep the idea that food is an easy way out of emotional stress.