Deciding when to seek treatment is probably the hardest step in the recovery process. It requires you to realize that you need help and that you can’t beat your eating disorder alone. Seeking professional help is necessary because of the life-threatening status of eating disorders. When your eating disorder is in control, you lose the ability to think rationally and see the damaging effects it is having on your physical and mental health. A therapist can help you look at the situation logically and learn coping skills to deal with stress or poor self-esteem.
Sadly, there is a lot of guilt and shame attached to these behaviors so they tend to be done in private. — Lisa Ferentz LCSW-C, DAPA
When deciding whether or not therapy is the right option for you, it is important to ask yourself these questions.
Is it causing you harm?
Is your eating disorder leading to damaging effects on your mental, physical, and social health? Eating disorders isolate you from the people around you and cause you to doubt your own views and beliefs. Your insecurity and poor self-image is in control of your actions and behaviors.
Harm does not necessarily mean physical symptoms, though these are also a cause for concern. Harm can refer to emotional and social harm. One example of this is your mental state can be altered by low self-esteem and negative self-talk, both of which lead to a damaging body image.
Bulimia nervosa will also manifest physically. This can be with harmful weight loss or acid reflux disorder, both of which can cause pain to the individual.
Significant studies on depression and anxiety as pre-determining factors proved reliable and gave and continue to give reason to be hopeful for patient recovery and in pursuing efficacious treatment protocols. — Judy Scheel Ph.D., L.C.S.W., CEDS
Is it affecting the people around you?
Your eating disorder will not only affect you. It will also put a strain on your relationships. When someone’s friend or family member is hurting themselves and not seeking to change, it puts a lot of stress on the individual. It’s unbelievably hard to watch someone you love damage themselves in permanent ways because they won’t admit they have a problem.
Your eating disorder will also cause you to act out and become isolated from the people around you. This is because your disorder is in control of your decisions, not you. You will find yourself making excuses and avoiding interaction because you’re too afraid of getting caught and the consequences that will follow.
If you notice that you are pulling away from your friends and family, it’s time to seek treatment and professional help. The situation gets much more dangerous when you have a lack of a support system to encourage you and provide strength when things get hard.
Is it preventing you from living a normal life?
Your eating disorder can potentially prevent you from experiencing a normal life. You will become so focused on what food you are consuming and the act of purging that you will begin to neglect the daily tasks and jobs that need to be completed.
At a larger social level are the influences of pressure and advertisements on children and adults of what constitutes a perfect body and the ways that food, or lack thereof, may achieve that. — Leslie E. Korn Ph.D., MPH, LMHC, ACS, NTP
Bulimia is a very secretive disorder, as mentioned earlier, and attempted to hide your behaviors around food will cause you to isolate yourself and take you away from society. Professional help is needed to help you learn how to live a normal life while battling your disorder. You need to learn the tools to cope with poor self-image and low confidence levels.
If you find yourself unable to attend school or work, you are in dangerous territory because you are losing control. Once you neglect the activities you once loved, you have reached life-threatening waters and should seek help immediately. It’s important to reach out for treatment, even if you’re scared of people finding out and judging you. Your mental health is the most important thing and should be your priority.