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    Kelly Douglas

    How Eating Disorder Treatment Can Both Help and Hurt You

    Many people who live with eating disorders end up seeking treatment at for-profit eating disorder treatment centers. Though everyone’s treatment experiences look different, eating disorder treatment centers typically strive to help clients process their feelings surrounding their eating disorders and heal their relationships with food. Although some treatment centers successfully help clients reach full recovery, there are still a variety of areas in which treatment centers as a whole can improve. For National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I asked current and former eating disorder treatment clients from all walks of life what eating treatment centers do well and how they can improve. Here’s what they had to say. What Eating Disorder Treatment Centers Do Well 1. Eating disorder treatment centers may save lives in life-or-death situations. “[Eating disorder treatment centers] save lives when it’s a matter of life or death.” -Adele 2. Eating disorder treatment centers may treat co-occurring trauma. “I like when [eating disorder] treatment centers also treat trauma because eating disorders have a connection to trauma in many cases.” -Tali “I think a lot of [eating disorder treatment centers] are equipped with a lot of trauma-informed practices for things like abuse.” -Rebecca 3. Eating disorder treatment centers may employ therapists with a variety of backgrounds. “I felt that having a Latina therapist that led groups every other day was really key in my path to recovery. Having someone whose background was similar to mine — with whom I shared a language, customs, and traditions — helped me open up. She understood the cultural nuances that explained a lot of my trauma.” -Mishna 4. Eating disorder treatment centers may build community. “I think eating disorder treatment centers build community well… and that can be… a strength if it’s addressed properly. I have come out of inpatient and residential treatment for my eating disorder with amazing friends and supports, some of which are still close to me in my life now… I think that we become very close with peers and staff in treatment, and it’s a matter of how we navigate those relationships.” -Jocelyn 4. Eating disorder treatment centers may foster independence in recovery. “[The eating disorder treatment center I went to] would take us grocery shopping with the aid of the dietician. That really helped me become more independent in my ED recovery.” -Rebecca 5. Eating disorder treatment centers may affirm clients on their good days and support clients on their harder days. “The best treatment centers I’ve been to have given clients opportunities to affirm each other — both on ‘good’ days and days that are harder. At those treatment centers, staff would also make themselves available to help clients when they were having a hard time. It was clear to me that these centers truly cared about their clients at every stage of recovery and wanted to create a supportive, recovery-motivated environment.” -Kelly 6. Eating disorder treatment centers can help clients bond with people in similar circumstances. “[Because of my time in treatment, I gained] a few of my… best friends!” -Anna What Eating Disorder Treatment Centers Need to Improve 1. Eating disorder treatment centers could treat a wider variety of eating disorders. “[Many eating disorder treatment centers] don’t really treat [avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID)] or [binge-eating disorder (BED)].  They are [often] so focused on anorexia and bulimia [that] I haven’t been able to find the treatment I need.” -Tali “[Treatment centers often] cater to restrictive [eating disorders] and people with ARFID [and] BED are [often] made to feel very out-of-place because [these centers usually] do not give much support at all for anything besides anorexia.” -Anna 2. Eating disorder treatment centers could be equipped to treat clients with all types of physical and emotional needs. “[In residential treatment], I shared a room with three other women, which as an introvert was very overwhelming. We [also] went to different buildings throughout the day, but as someone with a physical disability, I found it hard to keep up. In my experience, I’ve usually been one of the first people with a disability that my [eating disorder] providers in treatment have had. I have yet to find [an eating disorder treatment center] that treats medical trauma [as well as other types of trauma].” -Rebecca “[Treatment centers] often cannot [or] do not accommodate [people with] physical illnesses. The schedule is [also typically] way too structured and busy for someone with chronic fatigue. Being forced to stay awake for 16 to 18 hours straight and told to stand in groups if you can’t stay awake doesn’t work for people like me who need [at least] 11 hours of sleep and naps.” -Adele 3. Eating disorder treatment centers could personalize food challenges to fit each client’s needs. “I was always yearning to receive challenges that felt personal to me [in treatment]… The food challenges seemed generic, and I wish they had tailored them to each person. It sometimes made me feel bad when I saw others not struggling with the challenge meal.” -Mishna 4. Eating disorder treatment centers could find ways to feel less competitive. “Putting a bunch of competitive and sick people together and then adding stress (food and change) [can make it easy for things] to go wrong. There’s [often] so much competition in treatment, and comparisons [with other clients can be] detrimental.” -Adele 5. Eating disorder treatment centers could update how they treat eating disorders over time. “In my opinion, treatment for eating disorders is [often] very outdated. [I have been in and out of treatment] since I was 13, [but mostly] nothing has changed. [Some companies] are very black-and-white with the way they go about [care]… and there is [often] no diversity at all. The environments can feel very toxic, staff may have [few] or no boundaries and [often are not] held accountable for it, and most of them [seem] so burnt-out that they [may] barely function as supportive staff members. They could hire more diverse people [in terms of] size, race, [sexual orientation and gender].” -Anna 6. Eating disorder treatment centers could treat clients intersectionally. “Eating disorder treatment is often equipped to treat one type of client, and that’s typically a client who is considered a ‘majority’ in society in many ways. I think treatment centers need to hire staff that respect and affirm clients’ minority backgrounds and also need to be better equipped to accommodate clients with disabilities and to accept clients who may have difficulty finding treatment due to their genders or other aspects of their backgrounds. Everyone deserves affirming, accessible eating disorder treatment!” -Kelly 7. Eating disorder treatment centers could dismantle practices that cause clients trauma. “In the eating disorder [treatment] world, punishment is still [often] run-of-the-mill, despite current literature and studies suggesting punishment and ‘breaking’ people doesn’t work. I have been put in solitary for three weeks straight to try to ‘break’ me.’” -Adele “[Eating disorder] treatment left me with severe trauma. In order to improve, I think ED [treatment] centers need to completely restructure — get rid of restraint, seclusion, force-feeding, and carceral practices — as well as create a more diverse space for people [with] all types of [eating disorders] and [from all] backgrounds.” -Jocelyn Eating disorder treatment centers can help some clients reach recovery, but there is also plenty for them to improve upon. Hopefully, they’ll listen to the clients they serve and will be able to make changes that will help as many clients as possible seek out treatment that truly serves their needs.

    Community Voices

    Any adults with #ARFID or similar?

    Long time suspected I have an #EatingDisorder but when I went to my psychologist with the lengthy list of reasons why, the list of behaviours and beliefs and I was really open, I was told flat out that as I ‘don’t count calories’ and don’t weigh myself consistently, I don’t have an #ED and that was it.

    Let’s be clear. I do not want another diagnosis. I have plenty to get along with.

    I want help to understand myself and to help myself get better and live a healthier and happier life.

    The bizarre thing, is that I posted an anonymous ‘asking for a friend’ post in a Facebook support group, and everyone responded with ‘yes, your friend needs help and they definitely have an illness and need to seek support immediately’ but then when I revealed to a few friends that it was me and it was about me, they accused me of ‘wanting to have an ED’. Which as you can imagine is absolute rubbish.

    Anyway. Anyone been in a similar situation? Any suggestions? How did you manage it? Have you found a way to manage it?

    Thank you.

    #EatingDisorders #adultswitheatingdisorders #eatingdisordersupport

    6 people are talking about this
    Community Voices

    Anyone diagnosed with #ARFID as an adult?

    I’m not sure if this is the right group, so sorry if it’s not. I want to first make it clear, I do not *actually* want a ‘diagnosis’, I already have several mental illnesses I don’t need another one! What I am trying to find is support and understanding, and how I can manage my life better. I have suspected for a long time that I have an eating disorder (not just ‘disordered eating’) but have not been able to find a way to understand it and to get support. I did once approach my psychologist about it and I had made a list of all these things I do and behaviours and reasons why I believe I have an eating disorder. But, because I don’t count calories, I was told I don’t have an eating disorder. And that was it. I felt, completely let down. And I know a lot of people here talk about how to handle their children with #ARFID or other issues, but I want to find anyone who has had to deal with this on their own as an adult.
    Please any help is appreciated.

    1 person is talking about this
    Community Voices

    *sigh* another issue to add to the list #ARFID

    I'm diagnosed autistic and I have pretty severe sensory issues. Due to stress or whatever else, it feels like my sensory issues have gotten much worse. Noises, smells, lights, touch etc all worse. The worst part being food. The texture, taste, smell, the way it looks, the way it feels in my stomach all add up to me either retching/gagging/feeling sick or just point blank not being able to eat it. I'm getting less and less foods I can eat, with rapidly less foods being able to eat. This feels so much out of my control and idk wtf to do about it, it's so scary. Feel like cos I'm a bit overweight I'll brushed off but it's not losing weight I'm worried about, I imagine it'll take a while to get to a worrying weight, it's nutrition, as I already get low on some vitamins and minerals as it is. Ugh.

    Community Voices

    Eating disorder encouragement

    Body... why can't my body be enough for you? Why does me being healthy scare you so much? Why can't you be happy with me? I'm gonna say this... maybe only for the second time in my life... I am beautiful. Okay? So stop telling me to not eat... stop telling me to throw up... stop telling me I hate myself.... because you know what? I'm working on loving myself. It's hard and I don't need you in my ear telling me all of the little things you hate about me. I don't care. I don't care what you say anymore. At least for now I am free from you. How does it feel to have no power over me? I refuse to keep bowing to your every wish and literally tearing myself up for you. You don't own me. You don't define me. You aren't who I am. You are just thoughts. You are just a temptation. You are only a voice in my head... and maybe I can't silence you... but I'm working on putting you to death. You are nothing, if I don't listen to you. So... how does it make you feel? How do you feel as I'm taking back my life?

    #EatingDisorders #AnorexiaNervosa #AtypicalAnorexia #BulimiaNervosa #Bulimia #ARFID #Depression #DepressiveDisorders #Anxiety #PTSD #CPTSD

    12 people are talking about this
    Community Voices

    Find things that make you feel beautiful!

    <p>Find things that make you feel beautiful!</p>
    16 people are talking about this
    Community Voices

    What or who is a father? I'm not saying who helped bring you into existence... who has a part in your DNA. But who has showed you the love and gentleness of a father?
    For me, dad and father are different. Many people believe they're interchangeable. I personally use dad for my blood dad and father for my, well... my father.
    My dad hasn't been a father to me. Meaning he helped give me life but he also almost took that very life from me. He hurt me more than I can say.
    My father. Now that's a different story. He didnt give me life. He never helped make me through blood. But he has helped make me. He's helped make me grow and be who I am.
    My dad left. Countless times. When he finally stayed the toll it took on me was gruesome.
    My father. He was there for me. I slowly opened up to him and he proved to be trustworthy. He didnt make me feel bad or blackmailed me. He didnt use me. He loved me. He still loves me.
    My dad loves me too. At least in the best way he knows how. But it's a selfish love. Not a godly love like my fathers.
    My father has showed unconditional love. True love. One that's not based on performance or skill or benefit to the giver.
    I wish I could say he raised me. Sadly, I dont see him enough to say that. But I will say he raised me more in the short time that I've known him, then my dad ever did my whole life.
    My father has tought me a lot already. A lot of life lessons and ones necessary as a Christian. And he keeps teaching and reminding me of them, with patience and love.
    I never got that from my dad. But I have it from my father. My father is a great example of the Father. Of God.
    I used to have panick attacks when I read of how Gods love is like a fathers. Because, to put it frankly... the love I had seen from a "father" was not true love.
    Until... until I saw it from a godly man. I also began to see that same love in my friends. In my family. Or some of them. I finally began to learn the real meaning of love.
    I began to see and have a glimpse of Gods love, all displayed in my family. Not blood. But by choice. They chose me. I chose them. My patch work family.
    I'm so blessed to have them all. They've made up for the lack of a family I've had in blood.
    Family isnt blood. Don't let anyone who says that fool you.
    Family is a choice.
    Family is love.

    #PTSD #Anxiety #Depression #SuicidalThoughts #Suicide #AnorexiaNervosa #AnorexiaNervosa #ARFID #EatingDisorders #EatingDisorders #help #encouragement

    9 people are talking about this
    Community Voices

    A message for you if you’re struggling today ❤️

    When we’re living with mental illness, we expect recovery to be this gradual, steady wave of improvement that will end in us feeling good every day. But then, we hit a wall. We slip back into urges/cravings/feelings of panic/struggles to leave our beds/dysregulation/negative body image, and it hits us: This is hard. We feel like we’re “failing,” like everyone else has their lives together and no one experiences these lows. But the truth is, recovery is a waxing, waning process full of peaks and valleys — and that’s okay. It’s okay to struggle.

    If today was a hard day for you, please know that you aren’t alone in your struggles. You WILL reach easier days again, even if it may not feel that way right now. Know that you are trying your best, and that’s okay. And remember, you are heard, seen, and valued.

    You have succeeded before, and you are still succeeding by simply walking this difficult path. Use the bad days as a reminder of the transience of recovery — the good that’s yet to come. ❤️ #Anxiety #Depression #BipolarDisorder #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #EatingDisorders #Schizophrenia #DissociativeIdentityDisorder #SocialAnxiety #AnorexiaNervosa #BulimiaNervosa #ObsessiveCompulsiveDisorder #BingeEatingDisorder #ARFID

    2 people are talking about this
    Community Voices

    First post I guess ??

    I don’t know if anyone else is dealing with the same right now, but life is so hard. I had my first manic episode not long ago. I always felt like something was wrong with me and I didn’t know what. Now I do. It’s scary. I’m struggling to exist, to wake up everyday. It’s like dragging my feet through cement everyday.
    Just thought I’d take the weight off of my shoulders #Bipolar #Autism #ARFID

    3 people are talking about this
    Community Voices

    I feel so alone with my anxiety and depression. Along with my eating disorder-ARFID. My family told me I have no reason to be depressed or anxious. And that I shouldn’t be on my meds for as long as I have been. It made me feel so inferior and pathetic. I wish I had someone like a SO to talk to about it or a best friend but everyone in my life already has that but me. Sorry for such the pathetic post y’all-I just needed to wallow. #Anxiety #ARFID #Depression

    3 people are talking about this