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Sufferers

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In my experience, problems with eating seem to cross all boundaries and are therefore not adequately understood or explained for individual Eating Disorders sufferers through generalisations.  I decided many years ago that attaching a specific eating disorder label to people was not in itself particularly helpful or relevant for the process of personal change.  The majority of people who struggle with eating issues often, over time, experience a mixture of symptoms that overlap the rigid categories that are recognised and defined by health and medical professionals in this field.  There are so many combinations, variations and exceptions in the private world of eating disorders sufferers, that it is a profoundly complex and confusing place in which to find yourself.

It feels very important to me to emphasise here that there are core realities underlying any description you may read or hear – all eating disorders, even though they may bring effective short-term emotional relief, are characterised by extreme anxiety about self-body weight and shape, as well as by the detrimental disturbance or chaos of eating habits, and may all be inextricably linked to painful psychological and emotional problems relating to self-worth.  I am also aware that eating disorders sufferers, whether following a restrictive, impulsive or yo-yo pattern, often have many thoughts crowding and chattering wildly inside their heads, but that they seem unable to connect all this thinking with what is going inside their bodies.  In this way, there remains a gap between mental and physical experiences, which makes them feel somehow numb, empty or stuck, and which often presents as feeling out of touch, out of reach and too hard to bridge or fill.
 
I understand then that it may still be helpful for you to read through the more detailed alphabetical list below, if this enables you to make a clearer self-assessment while considering whether you want to and are ready to start therapy:
 

Alcohol Anorexia – you severely restrict your food intake because you are frightened of gaining weight, but you drink a lot of alcohol which helps to maintain your usual size and shape.

Anorexia Nervosa – you have an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat or by avoiding certain foods, sometimes accompanied by excessive exercising, and often dictated by a voice or voices that motivate your thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

Binge Eating Disorder – you feel unable to stop yourself from eating large quantities of food in a short space of time, perhaps very quickly and mindlessly, and often outside of regular mealtimes.

Bulimia Nervosa – you are immersed in a cycle of repetitive episodes of extreme overeating, alternating with fasting, self-induced vomiting or other ways of purging, such as the use of laxatives or an obsession with excercise, which you use to try to compensate for the food you have eaten.

Chewing and Spitting – you consciously chew and spit out large quantities of food, in order to avoid the natural process of swallowing.

Compulsive Overeating – you feel out of control with your eating, because you are addicted to food, perhaps continuing to pick at food all day long.

Disordered Eating – you are extremely anxious about, or obsessed with, being in control of your food consumption, and have established an irregular pattern of destructive eating habits in order to cope, whether through an obsession with calories, secrecy, self-comforting, planning, vomiting or exercise.

Night Eating Syndrome – you severely restrict eating during the day and are then unable to sleep at night unless you overeat uncontrollably.

Orthorexia – you experience extreme emotional distress unless you stick rigidly to your own set of rules with regard to eating the right foods that you judge to be biologically healthy, and excluding certain other foods that you consider unhealthy.

Purging Disorder – you maintain a constant weight and are terrified of putting on the slightest pound or kilo amount, including any natural hormonal fluctuations, so you regularly vomit up your daily evening meal but you do not binge eat.