Surviving ED

Hello, I'm Patricia Lemoine. I'm glad to be joining Jess Hudgens in writing the Surviving ED Blog. I suffered from bulimia as a teen and in my early 20s. Undiagnosed and untreated for almost a decade, my eating disorder got out of control in 2006. I now consider myself recovered from bulimia, though I sometimes suffer from anxiety, mostly related to food. I strongly believe eating disorder recovery is possible, but it’s an everyday choice since I must manage daily anxieties by not self-harming with food restriction and/or binging.
I have been getting a lot of questions on social media and in-person about the role eating disorder therapists have played in my recovery. This week, I’d like to share a few tips that are based on my personal experience of finding the right eating disorder professionals throughout my journey. It was an essential, yet very stressful, process. I have had to switch eating disorder therapists a few times, mainly due to reasons related to insurance coverage, relocation on either my end or theirs, as well as the need to seek out more specialized care at different points in my eating disorder recovery process.
Handling eating disorder triggers is your responsibility; an on-going effort that only you can control. I realized the responsibilty again a couple of weeks ago. I attended a dinner party held by one of the mental health related organizations I volunteer for. Seated next to a prominent psychiatrist, I found myself turning down the hostess’ offer of Nutella brownies (Eating Disorder Triggers and Social Events) The psychiatrist looked at me in a funny way when I said to the hostess that I’d pass on her offer.
How does an eating disorder relapse begin? For years, my eating disorder left me starving for more than just food. During episodes of restriction, binging and purging, I was also starving to share the truth. I was coming to the realization that I was bulimic, but I lived in fear of being labelled crazy if I spoke out. So, instead, I told myself lies, which unchecked, was a secret that could have killed me in the long run. (read: Secrets in Eating Disorder Recovery)
Last week, I shared with you some of my tips for managing eating disorder triggers when attending social events. This week, I’d like to continue by discussing eating disorder triggers related to food anxiety and how to avoid and cope.
Feeling triggered during social events? So am I! Eating disorder triggers seem to come from every direction, but is there anything you can do about them?
How do you rebuild an identity outside of your eating disorder behaviors once you embark on the recovery process? Giving up eating disorder behaviors can be daunting at first, because with time, they become an integral part of one’s identity and personality. In my case, it was so engrained, that at the time, stopping them, even when I wanted to, seemed like an impossible task. Here are a few helpful tips and words of wisdom which I’ve gathered along the way in my journey.
In my case, I never really had a formal sit down discussion with my parents about my eating disorder. I started eating disorder recovery in my mid-twenties, long after I had moved out. By then, I had graduated from law school and the time felt right. I told each parent separately about my eating disorder (they are divorced), and as uncomfortable as the conversation was, surprisingly, their reaction was one of relief. All along, they had known something wasn’t quite right regarding my eating habits and body image, and they also knew I’d had my gallbladder removed a couple of years earlier. So to them, as much as I tried to hide it, they knew something didn’t add up, but they just didn’t know what. (read: How To Tell Your Parents About Your Eating Disorder)
I'm often asked about how to come out to parents and family members about our eating disorder. If you haven't told your parents about having anorexia or bulimia, this week's video may prove to be helpful.
I’ve been using my experience as an eating disorder survivor as a springboard to have a larger discussion about mental health. Looking back, I can trace the beginning of bulimia to a specific set of events and triggers. Years before, there was already a problem with food anxiety, striving for perfection and body image issues. I didn’t know what bulimia was at the time but I certainly understood hunger, binging, purging and over-exercising. I also didn’t know my mind was slowly developing an eating disorder. The condition, however, was becoming very real.