WHEN TO REACH OUT
There are endless ways that other people can help you. You might want help directly related to stopping a behavior, or maybe accomplishing a challenging task. You might just need a sounding board, or just some human comfort. The following is a short list of some examples you can use as guidelines for when to reach out to others for help:
1. Before engaging in an eating disorder behavior (this at first might just help you understand it, or delay it, but eventually can help to prevent it).
2. After engaging in an eating disorder behavior (to process your feelings and be honest).
3. When having a difficult time about anything (to distract you or help calm you).
4. To help you be accountable for following through with your meal plan.
5. To get support for a meal challenge (difficult or scary food).
6. After succeeding at a recovery goal (to get validation and acknowledgment).
7. To hear a friendly voice in order to distract from a painful feeling or thought.
8. To help you feel connected.
âœI remember being so frustrated in therapy because I kept bingeing even though I was making progress in so many other areas, including relationships and having more fun. I could understand why I wanted to engage in my eating disorder behaviors when I was angry, or bored, but I found myself continually stopping for binge food on the way home from being out and having a great time after connecting with friends. After talking about it and exploring my feelings, I realized that what was triggering my urge to binge was a feeling of emptiness and disconnection that came over me after I had been with people. It was like I was afraid that I would not experience it again, or the difference between being with them and alone was too drastic. My therapist suggested that after getting together with people, I try calling a friend on the drive home to help make the transition less severe. It turned out that just connecting with someone on the way home was enough to help me pass up the grocery store. I didn’t have to talk about my eating disorder, what I was feeling, or even say that I was struggling. I just needed to connect a little so I didn’t feel a void that needed filling. Now, it’s part of my plan. On my way home, I call a friend to discuss the night’s events. â
WHEN I NEED TO REACH OUT
Take a moment to think about your current daily routine, your behaviors, and situations that can be problematic for you. Write down some situations where it might help you to reach out to someone.
RESISTANCE TO REACHING OUT
Chances are you have resistance to reaching out to others for help. If you are like most of our clients you have several reasons why you don’t want to do it, can’t do it, or why you think it won’t help. In our 8 Keys secrets we listed 14 of the main reasons clients have given us for why they don’t reach out. There are many thoughts and feelings that get in the way, but your fears are usually far greater than the reality. Reaching out to people does not mean things will always work out great, all your needs will be met, or just by doing so your eating disorder will go away. In fact, it is likely that at times you will be disappointed by people, they might not help, or someone might even make you feel worse. Like everything, it takes practice communicating what you need and finding the right people to reach out to. However, remember we only discuss 8 Keys to recovery and this is Key 7, so we obviously believe it is critical. See how the following client got herself to take the first step.
âœThe biggest obstacle for me in terms of reaching out to my friends or family when I am struggling is embarrassment. My ego or pride gets in the way. I am known as the independent, together one. I am the one people reach out to or go to when things get bad. So if I’m the one who needs help, I am afraid that people will stop seeing me that way or trusting me. If people know I am barely hanging on to my lunch, how will they trust me to be there for them?
âœHowever, I did reach out this week and it paid off. Driving home from work, I was tired, hungry, and a bit overwhelmed. My mind was all over the place. I wanted to restrict and to binge, and they both felt right and wrong at the same time. Then I started thinking that maybe what I wanted had nothing to do with food. I tried to figure out what my symptoms were telling me, like I had talked about in therapy so many times. I realized I needed and wanted both connection and escape, which seemed confusing at first. I felt alone and empty of love and connection, but full of stress and feelings from the day. In a light bulb moment I realized that my eating disorder was not really a solution for this. I called my sister and talked with her on the way home. I told her about all the stress at work, and listened about her day as well. We laughed at sister stuff that reminded me of being a kid. She tentatively asked how I was doing, and I felt my wall go up and was about to lie and tell her I was doing great, but instead I spoke through the wall and told her I actually called her because I was struggling, but that talking to her had helped. She told me that it was the first time she felt let in and how good it made her feel that I chose her to reach out to. Feeling this deeper connection to her defused my stress even more. I no longer felt the need to use food to manage my feelings. I got home, made dinner, took a bath, and felt both proud of myself and hopeful. â