Anatomy of an Eating Disorder

For 2019 I’ve decided to dedicate my blog on publishersmarketplace.com to address the “anatomy of eating disorders”, and the tangents that connect to any type of disorderly eating. These can be addiction related, cognitive, and disease-related.

Unfortunately, most of us walk this dangerous path. While we may not have blown-out eating disorders, my clinical experience, as well as my observations throughout the years have made this clear. You just have to open your eyes and look at the number of people who are overweight, obese, even thin, but eating in unhealthy ways. The diet industry makes this worse.

This is a very personal issue for me. I’ve been a disorderly and compulsive/emotional eater for my entire life….well, at least from the age of three. Yes, I do know the “ins and outs” of the entire spectrum. You might say I’m a personal expert at this.

The seriousness of my eating disorder was a gift. It brought me straight into the fray…as I mentioned earlier, I was knocking at the door of adult-onset diabetes, but that was not all. The anxiety and panic from food stress was making me a prisoner of my life. As a knowledgeable medical professional, I did know that something was very wrong with me, but I didn’t know exactly what that was and no physician properly diagnosed me, nor “asked the right questions.”

THE THERAPEUTIC SELF VERSUS THE UNDISCIPLINED CHILD-SELF

When it became clear to me that I was “on my own” with all of my symptoms, I decided to consider myself “my own patient.” I was always good at getting to the bottom of things when it had to do with my patients and their care plans, so now I had to do this for myself.

When a problem is multi-faceted like most nursing diagnoses, the nurse makes a care plan for all areas. This means asking lots of questions and doing thorough research on the presenting symptoms. I decided to begin my work with a journal and some meditative techniques. I needed a place to go to “center.” Remember, my cognition or mind was as sick as my eating issues, so the beginning was rocky. I had to call on my “Therapeutic” Self to lead the charge and begin the discipline of my very undisciplined child-self.

Getting to know oneself deeply is both interesting and frightening. I kept thinking of the movie “The Exorcist.” Coming face to face with this part of myself was perhaps the most difficult challenge. It’s important to understand that an eating disorder is not only about the food. It has many tangents, it’s own history and anatomy. There is a part, however, that is about the food, but often not in the way one thinks. There are genetic factors to be considered, as well as the damage already present from the over-production of insulin and what is called insulin resistance. There is the amount of fat that has been stored, as well as the small lean body mass that has been slowly destroyed over the years. All of these tangents need exploration, then discipline and motivation of that “undisciplined child-self.”

The level of the task depends on the history of the patient, in this case myself, and how strongly the negative habits have been engraved into the subconscious mind. My background is in Oncology and Medical Hypnotherapy. I decided to treat myself “as if” I was a seriously ill patient, which I was. The Therapeutic part of me had to stay grounded, ready to explore and study the dark recesses of the “anatomy of my eating disorder.” The journey was going to be both arduous and exciting.

I wish I could say that the undisciplined part of me was going to fall into line easily, but that was not to be the case. I was about to become my most difficult patient EVER. MOTIVATION… Besides exploring anatomy, I had to design motivation right from the beginning. No one moves into change without some sort of motivation.

There are two sides to the “motivation coin.” There is positive motivation meaning that one goes towards what one wants. This is where “desire” comes into play. Then there is negative motivation, mainly based on FEAR.

I remember clearly my very first day of walking onto my new path. My undisciplined child-self was walking alongside of me, not keen on any of this. She had been watching me closely, realizing that something was going to happen and she didn’t want any part of it. I could sense the resistance in my body and my thoughts were bouncing off the walls of my mind. Many I call the “yes-no” thoughts. Yes, I should do this, and no I should not do this. You are probably familiar with this way of thinking. It’s connected to what we know as “procrastination.” This is the Therapeutic Self arguing with the Undisciplined Self.

Recognizing this, I used a technique I taught my oncology patients over the years. It is part meditative, part imaginology or visualization. I describe this in depth in my books and on my mp3 programs. We ask the subconscious mind to “wake” us to the thought, and then we detach from it. This is a release tool that works well for thoughts as well as emotions and body sensations.

The best programs I have for this can be found on my websites. One program is called Becoming Aware and the other is Mental Biofeedback. The program for Thought Management also works well. It’s imperative to release or re-edit thoughts that are negative-habitual, especially those that have been hanging out in the subconscious mind for decades.

The Anatomy of the Eating Disorder helps to recognize where these originated. My early positive motivator was asking my Undisciplined Child-Self what it would not like to feel. The answer written in my journal was twofold. “I would like to be free of being tired and anxious.” Wow…now all I had to do was focus on a body/mind that was free of those. This is another hypnotic tool called “Interactive Self-Hypnosis.”

My negative-motivation was a spin-off of the positive-motivation. I “suggested” that not following the plan I was putting in place would cause an “increase in fatigue and anxiety.” Now, we were ready to implement the plan of change. Remember, we had to uncover the tangents, care for the Anatomy and the Physiology of the damaged body and also the mind programs. If you are new to my work, my mp3 Sessions are on my websites. . You can also find my ebooks on http://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Bohorquez-RN/e/B009Q5YLTQ  The ebooks for disorderly eating are in four parts. If you have questions feel free to contact me.

Where to Begin…Always the Best Question!

WHERE TO BEGIN…

For some reason today I find myself inside my disorderly eating history. I questioned my journal, “why,” and the answer appeared, “because.” We learn from where we have been, and “for sure” I’ve been in a life of chaos from a very early age. The chaos was managed subconsciously by what is called an “eating disorder”, so…this is “why.”

We want to begin at the beginning. Sometimes we can identify when binge or a pattern of disorderly eating began. I mentioned that my first binge was around the age of three. This was the year my father died in an automobile accident. It was my third birthday. In those days family were waked from the home instead of a funeral parlor. I wasn’t allowed to see my father in his casket but instead was sent to the garden with a plastic bag filled with cookies.

My next memory was opening the forbidden door to the living room and walking over to the casket. I remember yelling and someone pulling me out of the room. It wasn’t my mother. She was in shock and remained that way for many years. This was the day I lost my childhood and became a caretaker. From that day forward my young life was filled with stress and fear.

I lost my oldest son in 2011. He was a rock climber. At the time of his death he was climbing in Colombia, South America. It took us six months to bring his remains home, but that story is for another blog post. My husband died three months ago. He had been ill for several years and I was his caretaker. So, it is no surprise that my eating disorder decided to stop in for a visit.

Very early on I found solace in food. No one paid any attention to what I was doing. I don’t remember ever being corrected. However, I was criticized by an Aunt who told me that “(I) you always have something in your mouth. You will grow up to be a fat pig.” I’m sure she meant to help me, but I can still remember the feeling that flowed through my body….guilt, and shame. From that day forward I began “secret eating.” I think I was four or five.

While food was my solace, I was also a very hungry child. This was true physical hunger. My mother took me to our family doctor when I was seven because of my appetite. I was not fat…just hungry. The doctor gave me three little boxes filled with pills….amphetamines. They were cute boxes like little matchboxes. The pills were different colors…red, green and yellow. Very appealing. I swallowed them before each meal but still continued to be hungry.

I don’t remember returning to the doctor. I simply didn’t eat in front of anyone. My mother saw the problem as “solved.” I share this because of the importance of a missed diagnosis. From the very beginning, I was sensitive to refined carbohydrates. These were my secret binge foods and they kept me “hungry.” I was a very active child, so I burned off the calories but needed more. This became my “circle of horror.” It was all a secret….that I never shared with anyone until many decades later when I finally understood what happened to me and what was still happening. I was lucky. I almost died.

You may not consider this luck, but the level of my illness from “food” and “disorderly eating” forced me to find out what was wrong with me OR perish. While this may sound like an exaggeration, it is not. As I became older, had children, and continued my food crazies, I found myself looking to alcohol and prescription medications to handle the anxiety….which was caused by the very things I was doing. My symptoms were as crazy as my eating. These included major fatigue, sleep disorder, pain throughout my body, dizziness, poor vision, instability, emotional roller-coaster rides, shakiness, etc. resulting in phobias that kept me paralyzed with fear of leaving the house. Doctors labeled me as “neurotic”, depressed, anxiety-prone, etc. Certainly, this was not a self-esteem builder! I truly feel compassion for that Self who survived so many years ago.

No one ever asked me what I ate or drank. No one asked about my lifestyle behaviors or how I handled stress. No one asked anything… For a time I believed them, but there was always a little voice inside of me telling me to “find the truth.” Through all of this, I was a mother, wife and registered nurse. I hid everything…including the crazy bingeing that was well out of control by this time. I knew I was killing myself, but I couldn’t stop.

By now I was bingeing everywhere. What I didn’t know was that my pancreas was over-producing insulin and I was nearing the door of adult-onset diabetes. I had serious hyperinsulinemia or reactive hypoglycemia. My secrets were going to kill me if I didn’t find the way back to sanity.

I remember stopping the car one day on my way home from work. I pulled to the side of the road and prayed. I bargained. “Show me the way and I’ll do whatever it is and then….I’ll spend the rest of my life helping others.” The answer came in a strange way the very next day. The information came to me explaining what had been happening over the years. But, the way back to food sanity was going to be a rough haul for me. I would have to change everything. Once again I was paralyzed with fear. “What if I couldn’t do it??” I felt the fear melting…it was a very strange sensation. I knew intuitively that help was on the way.

I was now on a quest and strangely enough, had to fight others in order to live my new life. This was unexpected…more than food and secrets had to change if I was to truly live the life I had been given.

Now, here I am in that dark place once again. It is part of my grieving process, but this time it is different. I have insight, knowledge, wisdom and power. I know how to care for myself. Eating disorders are not about food, but out of control habits that attempt to help us through rough passages.

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