Anorexia & Bulimia
By Donnie McKinney c 2006
As in all the articles on this website, keep in mind that Donnie is not a doctor, and he doesn't want to take the place of one. Donnie's advice is based on his study of the human mind, experience working with teens for over thirty years and a desire to help teens figure out what life is really all about. Always seek professional help when you need it. That said . . .
The underlying problem with anorexia is that all your friends are seeing the real you. You're seeing something else. You “think” you’re fat. You aren’t. I think anorexia is not about weight at all. It is about self-esteem. It is an insidious disease, because it confuses your mind, and it can easily kill you.
My favorite singer, Karen Carpenter, died from it when she was at the height of her career. She had everything anyone could possibly want. She still saw herself as "fat." She was actually skin and bones, and looked like a ghost the last couple of years of her life. My friend's wife came close to dying from it. She had some notion that he liked her thin. She got really bad, and then finally agreed to get some help. Now, she's the happy mother of five wonderful boys, and can't even imagine what was going on in her head. Hopefully, your outcome will be more like hers than Karen Carpenter's.
So, if you want to get past this serious problem, you must first come to the realization that what you've been thinking is not real. It feels real. You "think" you know what you're feeling and thinking. But, the simple fact is your mind has gotten confused and is misleading you. That sounds easy, but the insidious part of it is that it "is" real as long as you think it is. So, you may have to just accept on faith that what I'm telling you is true. I know from experience that it is, but you don't know that yet. You've simply lost sight of who you really are, like Karen Carpenter did.
Think about Karen for a minute. It's easy to see just by looking at her that the "fat" person she saw was a figment of her imagination. She was obviously skin and bones. There is no way to know what was going on in her mind. There aren't many girls who wouldn't give anything to have her talent and be rich and famous like she was. Everybody envied her, but in her mind something was amis. We'll never know what confused her, but hopefully, you can start to see what's happening in your own life that has you confused.
Your self-esteem has been damaged by something in your past. It doesn't really matter what it was. What matters is that you take responsibility for your life from this minute forward, and get back to who you "really" are. There are some pretty simple and painless steps you can take to change your life.
The first thing you must do is simply accept yourself exactly the way you are right this instant - an imperfect, but changing and growing, worthwhile human being. That's exactly what we all are. One simple exercise that will help is to copy the following affirmation into a Word document and print it out. Then tape it on your bathroom mirror or someplace you will see it every day. Stand in front of the mirror and say it, out loud if possible, every morning and every night until it becomes a reality in your life.
"I accept myself exactly as I am - an imperfect, but changing and growing, worthwhile human being. Every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better. I like being me. I'd rather be me than anyone else on earth."
Once you can say that, and truly believe it, you will know you have healthy self-esteem. You won't look at the skinny you and see a "fat" you. You can learn that you are totally in charge of your own emotions and your own life. You can decide who you want to be and what you want to do in your life, and then be that person and do whatever it is you want to do in your life. You really are in total charge of that. You just don't know it yet. Your mind is just confused right now, and what you "think" you know is all false. If you can just accept the possibility that what I just said is even remotely true, then you have made the biggest step you will need to make. The rest are pretty easy ones.
There are some good psychologists who specialize in eating disorders. One of them could probably do you some good, but you "believe" you can't talk to anyone about it. The hardest hurdle to overcome is simply realizing that you need help, which hopefully you have done. The next hardest thing is to let anyone else know what's happening. That's normal. The fear of telling parents is also a real one. It's misguided, but it's real. Your mind probably has you thinking they won't love you anymore if they find out. Or, they'll think you're "defective." None of that is true. I have found that the more likely scenario is that your parents will give you a big hug, tell you that they're sorry they didn't even realize you were hurting and then get you the help you need.
There are some steps you can take on your own to start the process of "fixing" this. It will take some determination on your part, and it will require you to do some things you don't even believe you need to do. But, if you can get past the problem of believing what your mind is telling you right now, and take responsibility for figuring out who the "real" you is, you can make some dramatic changs in your life. The amazing part of this process is that all other areas of your life have been affected by the fictitious and erroneous thought patterns and emotions you have been "thinking" are real. You will be on your way to being happy, successful and fulfilled in life when you figure out who you "really" are.
It’s hard to know what the root problem is without knowing specifics in your life, but there is "something," or a combination of "somethings" that have made you unhappy with who you were and made you desire to be different. It could be something as simple as even "perceiving" that one or both parents don't love you enough. It could be something that resulted from some kind of traumatic experience. It could just be some guy not wanting to go with you when you wanted him to. It could be some combination of things that are hard to figure out. Whatever it is, it doesn't really matter, as long as you can start where you are right now and start visualizing yourself the way you want to be, and love yourself exactly the way you are right now. It's simple, but it's not necessarily easy.
My main goal is simply to help you realize that what you've been thinking is false. When your mind is confused, and misleading you, the hardest thing in the world is to simply realize that your thinking is confused. But, if you can take that simple, but crucial, basic step you are on your way to recovery.
The next step is to take responsibility for understanding how your mind works and learning some basic principles of life that will "release" you to live life the way you deserve to live it. Right now your life is stymied by the confusion and false thought patterns in your mind. Once you figure out who you really are you will become enthusiastic about life. Your adrenaline will flow. You will be creative and energetic. Along the way, you will one day realize that you're happy. That's a nice feeling.
If you have understood what I've been saying, which is vital to your recovery, the next step is to start "designing" your life the way you want it to be. "The Real Me" study on this website contains all the basic information you need to do exatly that - design your own life the way you want it to be, not the way our currently-confused mind has led you to believe it is.
Go to The Real Me Study
Let Donnie know if you need help figuring out specifics or how to apply the principles you will learn to your own life. He is there to help on a totally-confidential, individual basis.
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