Coping Strategies

il_340x270_566971584_jnjgEating disorders are expensive to treat. I can vouch for that. In my own experience, I visited two different psychologists and a nutritionist, all on top of regular visits to the doctor. And let’s not forget the many visits to different specialists that took place – when you lose too much weight, other things start to go wrong as well, and these are perhaps the scariest of consequences!

I can’t say with certainty that I ever found the one. And no I’m not talking about my love life (though that is still accurate!). I’m talking about finding that right psychologist. If you can manage to see someone, I would recommend it, especially someone with experience or expertise in treating eating disorders. For many people, it helps to have some on the outside, someone who you can speak to without holding back.

I still have mixed feelings about the effectiveness of my sessions at both of the psychologists I visited. I personally didn’t feel comfortable enough to open up, for fear of being judged. Sometimes I felt belittled, other times I felt encouraged. Sometimes I felt like I really was being judged, while other times I knew I wasn’t. With both of them I would have liked to have felt more “nutured” and cared for, as if these two strangers really did want to know me and help me through my struggles. But like I said, not everyone finds the one. I don’t doubt that they were capable psychologists, but perhaps just not for me.

Having said all that, I did make progress seeing both of them, and I did come away with some things that I’d like to share… Let me introduce you to “My Passport to Coping”! This was a strategy given to me by my second psychologist, who knew that I wanted practical and tangible methods of coping in hard situations. “My Passport to Coping “was simply a small piece of paper with those very words printed at the top. Underneath were the numbers 1 to 10 and a simple word or two to help me cope. Mine went like this:

My Passport to Coping

  1. My goal is to gain health, happiness and wellness.
  2. If you want it, have it. It will taste good!
  3. It’s ok to enjoy food just because you can!
  4. You probably used to eat and enjoy this food.
  5. Is anyone else stressing about this food?
  6. Think about the wonderful company you are surrounded by!
  7. Life is not dictated by “good” or “bad” food. This concept is made up.
  8. Your body wants and needs this nourishment.
  9. Give yourself the option to have a child!
  10. Think of curvy people – they’re beautiful!
  11. God loves YOU. He chose YOU and he cares for YOU no matter what!

Ok so I added in my own number 11, but that’s probably the best one of all!

I kept this little piece of paper in my wallet so I could whip it out whenever the need arose. Of course it won’t melt your fears, nor will it soothe all your anxieties. It won’t solve the problem straight away, nor will it make the cause of the problem disappear. But it will give you some perspective, a slither of hope, the slightest sense of comfort and confidence that things will be ok. I can only imagine how hard it must be for non-eating disordered people to try and understand that sense of panic we experience, but in reading this I hope you’ll know that you are not alone and that every single day there are others out there just like you who are conquering their fears. You are worthy of life and life to the full, don’t deny yourself that.

On that note, I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes. It says this: “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says ‘I’ll try again tomorrow’”.

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