When I was 12 I came to the clinic because of my anorexia. 20 years later, I’m healthy and share five tips that, in retrospect, have helped me the most.
I was only 12 years old when I developed anorexia (Anorexia nervosa) fell ill and was told that if I continued to lose weight at this rate, I would be dead in two and a half months. The wake-up call sent me to inpatient therapy – my salvation. I survived the eating disorder and permanently defeated it.
20 years later, in retrospect, I can say which tips and strategies have helped me the most personally to defeat my inner demons. The therapy provides the first clues and the tools, but unfortunately you have to maneuver yourself out of the mess. It was a long process for me, but it was one hundred percent worth it.
I would now like to share with you what helped me the most and in retrospect I would have loved to share with my younger self – in the hope that it might help one or the other of those affected in some way.
Anorexia: my 5 tips and strategies
1. Build a neutral relationship with the body
The “body positivity” movement is not ebbing. “Love your body” literally screams at you from colorful poster slogans. But loving cellulite or your own stomach is a pretty lofty goal. What is much more important and real: to get the body out of the spotlight of attention and to strive for a neutral relationship with it. Your appearance is not what you are, but you are you.
Building up and internalizing this basic understanding has helped me a lot over the years not to direct my focus too extreme on my appearance. Shift focus is the magic word! Of course I like to get dressed up, dress nicely and take care of myself. But my sick thoughts shouldn’t be too preoccupied with every inch of skin on my body.
2. Banish scales from life
My mantra “shift focus” runs like a thread through my five tips and strategies. I was obsessed with the number on the scales, checking it several times a day. My weight defined me as a person and my emotional life. Of course that’s wrong. So this thing had to get out of my life. I did not succeed in doing that immediately after the inpatient therapy stay.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized that I had to let go of the amount of my weight. Not the number on the scales should be the absolute enemy, but the device itself. The scales had to go. She was banned from my parents’ house and was not allowed to be in any flat share that I moved into after moving out. To this day, this step has essentially helped me not to define myself by my weight, because: I no longer have a clue how much I weigh and that feels liberating.
3. Relearn enjoyment
I don’t have much to do with numbers. Arithmetic Phew! But like the number on the scales, I was obsessed with the calories of each food. I didn’t rate foods based on their taste, but based on their number of calories. The less it was contained anywhere, the better the product tasted.
But what makes life worth living in the first place? The two G’s enjoyment and indulgence! The number of calories was no longer allowed to be studied. Taste had to gain the upper hand again. I still remember exactly what it felt like to eat an ice cream sundae again for the first time – while I was still in therapy. The aim was to do that without a guilty conscience. A difficult step, but I have mastered it. Nevertheless, it took many years and many steps until the ice cream was regularly on my menu again.
The next step was not only to learn to like high-calorie foods, but to try things out and eat well. Learning what a crazy experience fine dining can be has been very rewarding for me. I can’t cook and I will always hate it, but eating my way through the Israeli kitchen or trying out a new Italian is now one of my favorite hobbies. A great success and the result of years of perseverance.
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4. My appearance and eating habits: a taboo subject
Here, too, the tactic of shifting focus can be found again. “Child, you’ve gotten thin”: This sentence, which many mothers and grandmas inexperiencedly blow at their grandchildren and children, spurred my sick self all the more to continue to lose weight. Sayings about a person’s weight or their eating habits are easy to say. However, at first glance, many are not aware of what they sometimes cause sustainably.
Sentences like: “The coat makes you slim” or “Wow, but you swallowed your food today” can trigger those affected. Therefore, one of the first measures in my familiar and friendly environment was to name taboo topics. This includes every statement related to my appearance and my eating behavior. This takes the pressure off and minimizes the risk of being triggered again.
5. Find allies
My aunt, like me, suffered from an eating disorder. She was the first person I met who finally understood everything that no outsider could understand – a revelation. From then on she was my ally. I was able to talk to her about thoughts and problems that I couldn’t talk to anyone else about. She was able to give me advice that no one else could give me because she knew what I was going through and what my sick thoughts were like. The unspeakable became something that could be said.
I would recommend all those affected to look for a person who has lived through what you are going through. This can be the case in a private environment, during an inpatient therapy stay, in a self-help group or in online forums. The important thing is: The person must not fire up your sick demons, but should give you an exclusively positive feeling.
Are you seeing any signs of an eating disorder? The Advice line the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) will help you anonymously, it can be reached at: 0221/892 031. You can also find further professional and specialized advice centers in the Location searchthe BZgA.
Source used:own experience report