How to Survive Anorexia Nervosa
No matter how long you’ve battled anorexia, the first step in surviving is admitting there is a problem.
As a secretive and seductive disease, anorexia is a condition that can rob you of not only your physical health, but also of your mental well-being and peace of mind.
To survive, you’ll need to work hard at recovery on a daily basis, learning to change not just your eating habits, but your thoughts, beliefs and behaviors about yourself and your body.
Ask for help
Asking for help can be intimidating – especially since there is a certain amount of stigma and shame that characterizes eating disorders.
But if you can get the support of a trusted friend, family member or loved one, you are well on your way to recovery.
Try to share with this person exactly what you’re struggling with and the severity of your condition. You may need to go into detail in order for this person to understand that your illness is serious – and that you’re struggling with a life-or-death disease.
Treat your immediate health
You may or may not be underweight if you’re anorexic, but it’s likely you are suffering from some degree of malnutrition. One of the first and most important things to do, therefore, is to seek medical attention.
You can go to your general physician for a check-up and he or she can then refer you to any specialists you may need to see if there are serious health issues to be addressed.
Develop a plan
Surviving anorexia means having a plan. Ideally, you’ll want to seek professional help from someone who is qualified to treat individuals with eating disorders. You may benefit from joining an inpatient or outpatient recovery program, seeing a therapist by yourself or joining a support group for people recovering from eating disorders.
Sit down with your trusted friend or loved one and decide together what actions steps need to be taken. This person can help ensure you stay on track during what will likely be a difficult time.
Find a support system
Even after months or years of recovery, in order to survive anorexia you must have a support system. This is where 12-step recovery groups can be a useful resource. You could also consider getting involved with the cause by helping to raise awareness about anorexia in your local schools or community health centers.
The important thing is to create a network of supportive individuals who are aware of your past struggles and who can provide accountability, encouragement and help when you need it.
While relapse may indeed be a part of the recovery process, you’re much more likely to bounce back quickly if you have people rooting for your success.
Have realistic expectations
It’s also important to have realistic expectations about recovery. Sometimes defeating anorexia is a long and painful process. Be gentle with yourself as you begin this journey and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
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