Sandy, My question is – how do you stop purging? I have an eating disorder and can’t stop purging. I also restrict, then when I eat something unsafe-feeling I purge which happens lots daily. What do you think I should do? ~Katie
Katie, are you in any kind of treatment program?
If not it’s important that you think about getting into a program as soon as you can. Purging is damaging your body in ways that might not show up for years. It’s important that you think about getting into treatment and support from others local to you who are battling the same thing. That’s the optimal place for you to start.
I also understand that it’s a very difficult thing to get yourself to do.
From my point of view while you are not eating, or at least not keeping what you eat, your body and your mind cannot function healthily. Your brain needs about 60% of the energy you take in each day, just to help you think clearly and get through the day doing what you do. When you’re purging you’re not giving your brain or your body the energy you need to stay on an even keel.
You already know you want to stop purging but can’t.
I’m guessing you already know that purging is not as much about the food as it is about the feelings you have about who you are.
Learning how to identify those feelings, and then feel them in a safe way will help you to keep food in your body.
Katie, bingeing is a 100% predictable, normal, natural response to restricting. It’s every cell in your body screaming for energy and nutrients when you’re restricting your food. When you binge after restricting – dare I say – you are honouring your body. BUT I get that it’s largely out of your control too, it’s like you’re driven to calm the voice of purging, as you would be when every cell in your body is screaming for food, and your brain is not functioning as well as it could be because it’s not properly fuelled.
I get that.
That’s why I suggest you focus on the feelings you have right now, this minute. Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Focus on the feeling of ‘unsafe’ and use EFT tapping which is a mind-body process that will help you to feel calm and more in control of that feeling of ‘unsafe’.
I promise you, tapping has helped so many people to stop purging, feel relaxed with their emotions, clear the root cause of the purging behaviour, and to finally even enjoy food in a relaxed and natural way.
It *is* possible.
Try any of the free tapping scripts for negative body image on this site – I know they’re not specific to eating disorders but I also know that purging often goes hand in hand with negative body image.
Even if that’s not true for you, lovely Katie (and even if you disagree with me because you don’t feel that you’re lovely in body, I know that you are an infinite wonderful beautiful soul who is by nature lovely) those emotions you’re feeling are very real, wherever they started.
Most of us never learn how to deal with our emotions particularly well, so please don’t think there’s anything wrong with you. We’re a culture that prizes our intellect and our logic, and emotions very much take a back seat. In fact we’re usually taught to suppress them and be ‘in control’!
For many girls crying is seen as weak or manipulative and god forbid you express any anger! Control yourself, squash it all down, there’s a good girl!
So you’re not lacking in some important way Katie, you’re doing what you know – and it’s not working anymore. You just haven’t learned yet how to process those feelings as well as your body needs – does that makes sense?
Thing is, the longer we suppress our emotions the harder it becomes to keep them suppressed. It’s like we fill up with emotional energy and when it overflows… well, some people develop anxiety disorders, some people develop severe depression, some people use alcohol or other drugs, and some people restrict and purge. No I’m not saying purging is like using illegal drugs. I am saying that we all find the coping strategy that works best for us, or that makes the most sense to us – demented as that seems when you can’t stop purging.
I’m not a psychologist Katie, I’m a holistic counsellor, so I have a slightly different way of thinking about emotions than others might.
What I know for sure is that tapping is a perfect way to tune into your emotions, and help them move out. Use the free tapping scripts, feel free to ask more questions, and maybe find a well-credentialled EFT therapist near where you live. Remember that a support group for EDs can be a lifeline.
Much love to you lovely Katie as you keep taking steps on this path to stopping purging, I know you can do it. Ask more questions if you want to.