Anorexia Relapse

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I’m 21 and I’m in therapy for anorexia. I was going okay until a couple of weeks ago. The past week, I’ve lost 3.5kg & I’m scared because it’s getting out of my control again. I’ve been sticking to a strict intake of 200cals a day MAX. The voice inside my head makes it so hard for me to get better. I see a psychologist once every 3 months.

I feel terrible because my family is getting worried about me again. I don’t want them to worry. I want them to think I’m okay but it’s hard to hide the weight loss. I want the voice inside my head to stop but it just won’t go away. I’m sick of hurting the ones I love. I’ve tried so many times to beat it but I can’t do it alone. I don’t want this to kill me but I can’t get better.

I don’t know where to go from here. I cannot enjoy myself anywhere because I’m constantly comparing my body to everyone else’s. It’s so exhausting. I can’t remember how I used to be before the depression, before the eating disorder. I’ve been trying to escape through drinking alcohol but alcohol just makes me even more depressed. =(

I live in a small town so there aren’t any therapists that live here. I used to see an eating disorders specialist in Adelaide, SA but he just kept putting me in hospital and I was scared of him. I’m scared of going to a mental health worker here because they might not understand. I don’t know how I’m supposed to get better when it’s already taken over my whole life.

A. You’re not well. By your own admission you have lost control. You are frightened of what might happen if you don’t seek help. You said that you are in therapy but you’re only seeing a psychologist once every three months. That is not enough.

You also seem overly concerned with what other people are going to think of you. You are careful to hide your weight loss from your parents because you do not want them to worry about you. You said you’re tired of hurting your loved ones. Despite the fact that you’re experiencing a possible anorexia relapse and depression, two very serious conditions, you’re more concerned about how other people are feeling than with yourself.

Right now, you need to make yourself a priority. You are the one who is suffering. You’re battling a voice that tells you to harm yourself. You’re starving yourself and putting your life at risk. You’re the one who desperately needs help, not those around you. You are spending too much time and energy trying to hide a secret that needs to be disclosed. You’d be much healthier if you stopped focusing on other people and started paying attention to your needs.

If you’re not fully aware of this, you need help now. Don’t worry about your loved ones, worry about yourself. You are the one in desperate need of care. At this time, you are only eating 200 calories a day and losing weight rapidly. You’re in a precarious and dangerous situation that requires you to take immediate action.

I strongly encourage you to call your treating psychologist and tell him or her what is happening with you. If you act fast and inform a mental health professional about your condition, you may be able to minimize the damage of this latest relapse. You said you fear hospitalization and if you get help now, maybe you can prevent a hospital stay. All of that may be possible but you won’t know if you refuse to ask for help.

If you do not want to tell your treating psychologist, call the eating disorder specialist you mentioned for advice. Since you are currently not his or her patient and you may not meet the criteria for a hospitalization, the specialist might not try to hospitalize you and will instead offer you advice.

Don’t spend another minute at the mercy of an eating disorder. Don’t let your life be ruled by anorexia. The only way to take control is to get help when it is clearly needed. That time is now.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Dec 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). Anorexia Relapse. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 30, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/12/22/anorexia-relapse/