MIrror Mirror On The Wall: Shattering the illusion that deceives

We all know the fairy tale of Snow White. As a little girl I remember being terrified of the wicked witch and her hatred for anything that the mirror on the wall could reveil would be more beautiful than she was. I reflect back on the messages I received from that one fairy tale, the impact and focus of the mirror on the wall. Determining truth, determining worth, determining value,  determining destiny. I wish I could say that the story of the mirror on the wall is just that a fairy tale however that would be false,  it is very much the reality of so many men and woman today. The mirror signifies worth, value, mood, thoughts, actions and life. What is this mirror and who decided it’s refelction of us was truth, better yet who decided it had the capacity to reflect all of who we truly are. This post takes a closer look at one of the cores of all types of eating disorder and that is negative body image and the distortions that feed into them.  I am writing to shed light on distorted body images that come from struggling with an eating disorder but for those who have or suffer from body dysmorphic disorder as well. My hope is this post will help shatter and break the glass in the mirror on the wall.

apple-core-in-mirror-anorexia-body-image-issues-800x500-800x350

We all have a vision or an idea of what we would like to see. For many when they look in the mirror there is a distinct focus that is the point of fixation. For so many their self worth is linked to what they perceive in the mirror but my message is that the mirror lies. I am not talking about the mirror itself but our minds mirror, the build up of words, ideas, thoughts, images that build up a visual of what we are supposed to look like, what we should see in the mirror and what we are worth. I challenge clients everyday to think for one moment if the image they saw and strived for in their minds would appear in the mirror would they stop chasing the vision, would they feel content, validated, happy. The answer is most always NO. The fear that confines and haunts those who suffer from eating disorders and distorted body images of themselves keep them wanting to go deeper and deeper, it feeds their eating disorders & validates the disorder. If their ” ideal body” was to show in the mirror, they would want to improve that image, go further, keep going. This is where the danger lies, this is the distorted body image that haunts so many people in the world. The belief that if they could achieve what their mind believes is beautiful enough that everything else in their world be alright.

reflections4

Body dysmorphic disorder is a psychological condition in which a person becomes obsessed with their appearance and a perceived flaw in their appearance. So many woman and men struggle with who they see in the mirror. They stand in front of it everyday, some in dread, some in anger, some in sadness and some in disgust. For some the idea of facing what they see in the mirror is so anxiety provoking that they avoid it all together. The race for perfection drives so many to fixate on what they perceive in their minds as flaws. The medias portrayal of what is beautiful as well as our own idea of what is beautiful can be very damaging. Kids at a young age are now paying attention to fashion and dieting the list goes on. For those struggling with a distorted body image I believe it goes beyond just the body focus but a distorted sense of self and the world. Often times those who dislike and hate their bodies dislike themselves. The core in dealing with this issue is to help a client work through what has led to their low self esteem and low self worth. By starting to uncover where they learned to question or dislike who they are. By helping them discover the connections we can slowly start to put cracks in the mirror. 

th

It is said in the professional community of those who treat eating disorders that the preoccupation with body image is the last to go in the stages of recovery. While I can agree that yes body image acceptance is very challenging for someone recovering from an eating disorder it is possible. To see the transition from someone who hates their body and who they are, to someone who embraces their body and is proud of who they are,  for me as a clinician it is one of the most satisfying to witness.  I wish I could provide simple steps to loving your body etc I wish it were that easy. What I can provide is hope by just addressing this topic we are increasing the awareness for so many who struggle everyday hating their body. As clinicians I again empower you to educate yourselves and look beyond what is presented to you from your clients. I like to look beyond the negative distorted body image and start cracking that mirror. I look for patterns and connections of what else may be distorted in a clients mind about who they are and the life they could have. When clients can make the connections of the distortions they have that go beyond just their body it can be very powerful for them. If someone who suffers from a distorted body image can get a glimpse of their true reflection it can lead to them developing the tools to shatter their mirrors. If someone allows themselves to be open to challenge what they see, chances are that there may be a glimpse of their true self shown and thats where the power can lie, the reality vs. the mirror. It starts from within, developing self love, develop some empathy for themselves and one day developing pride in who they are. My hope is for anyone struggling to one day see yourselves for who you truly are and that is beautiful. 

positive-body-image-18038267

“Maturity is that time when the mirrors in our mind turn to windows and instead of seeing the reflection of ourselves we see others.” 

For more from Priscilla Jadallah and on eating disorders please check out her internet series Behind The Mask: Eating Disorders Unveiled

http://www.therapycable.com/streams/content/69-behind-the-mask

Advertisements

Breaking the Silence: Eating Disorders and the men who suffer

Eating disorders are commonly associated as a struggle that only women go through even commonly referred to as a “woman’s disease”. Preoccupation with image, body,  and self is highly associated to be issues that women struggle with and think about. I am here to break the silence and inform you that this stereotype is far from true. The reality is that out of the 8 millions people who suffer from Eating Disorders in the US 10 percent of them are male. In fact between 1999 and 2009 the government estimates indicate that the number of males admitted to hospitals for complications from eating disorders rose by a whopping 53 percent. Recent studies and surveys show that young males have admitted to vomiting, restricting or have used laxatives to control their weight as well as taken diet pills. This can be rather shocking as men stereotypically are not thought of to suffer from an eating disorder. I estimate that the rate of men who suffer is probably a lot higher but the embaressment and shame that many men feel stops them from speaking out and seeking treatment for themselves. I am here to shed some light that yes men suffer from eating disorders too.

Image

I can speak on this personally because I have worked in three residential treatment centers and I have seen many young boys and men come into treatment. I have seen boys as young as 10 and the ages range up to the age of 50. Speaking with these boys and men shed so much insight into the gripping affect body image and pressure that men themselves can feel. I have noticed this especially among male athletes who must meet weight requirments for different types of sports. Men feel their own pressure to achieve a certain look or body image type.

th-1

Today men are more aware and conscious of their bodies. Media portrays the look of lean, fit built men with muscles and depending on the sport or peer groups, more men are feeling pressured to achieve a certain look. I have noticed that especially men who are involved with wrestling, running, football and other sports feel intense pressure to be above or under a certain weight class. This leads men to either overeat, restrict, purge or use laxatives to meet this criteria. The bottom line is we need to end the stereotypes that eating disorders are a woman’s disease. I want to educate and increase the awareness that an eating disorder can affect anyone! No matter what your age, gender, status etc eating disorders are on the rise and affecting more people. Education needs to start at an early age and that begins with parents and in the schools. We also need to end the shame associated with having an eating disorder. It already is a disorder that those who suffer feel guilt and shame and have a hard time reaching out for help, but the men who suffer feel an even heightened shame to seek help.  Treatment and groups have  traditionally been targeted to women so we need to branch out and make avenues of help more open so people feel more comfortable reaching out. It’s time to end the invisible struggle, its time to break free, its time to heal!

New Eating Disorder Recovery & Support Group In Orange County!

A06815_016

edgroup

Dealing with…. OUR EMOTIONS!!

I think many people in the world have a love/hate relationship with their emotions, other often times struggle with being able to even identify their emotions and the internal feelings that arise within them. I feel that our love/hate relationship and inability to properly handle, cope with or identify the different emotions and states is a contributing factor to why so many people suffer from anxiety, depression fear and addictions. Many people tend to use harmful and negative tools to cope with the abundance of emotions that fills them. For example to numb unpleasant emotions people turn to drugs, alcohol, food. To increase or feel pleasurable emotions people turn to drugs, attention seeking or risky behaviors. Some shut down all emotional outlets all together to avoid any emotions. I feel the more people learn ways to handle identify and cope with emotions the better people will not only handle them but their lives as well. Sometimes we are able to feel emotionally balanced, other times our emotions are so intertwined they leave us feeling confused as our emotions battle it out and often one emotion is so strong that it takes over all control.That is the dangerous part because that is when our emotional state has the power and control to influence not only our thoughts but our actions and decisions. 

                                      ListofEmotions-600x450
I’m going to address once a week different ways to confront different emotions and how to try to turn them into positives and therefore lead to more positive actions. This week is just my way of introducing this to you. What are your thoughts about this topic? What do you want to know more of or understand? We all have the capability of creating the life we want why waste another day controlled by our emotions, we control them!

Reasons not to restrict! Don’t fight yourself, fight the illness!

I hope this helps someone out there. An eating disorder is so powerful because it reshapes and takes control of the mind. How you feel, how you see the world, how you see food & how you see yourself. It’s a mental prison that for so many the idea of breaking free & fighting for that mental control back seems impossible. This list of reasons not to restrict is a great tool to start fighting those eating disorder thoughts that tell you why you should restrict. Initially you may read this and not believe some or all of these reasons, ask yourself why? What automatic thoughts come to your mind reading this list? You may say whats the point in this list none of it applies to me? The more you talk back to yourself & question those thoughts you are having the more you can slowly fight back. The more you fill your mind with some positive light instead of dark. One day at a time , one action at a time. You can do it! 

20130720-100729.jpg

Eating Disorders and Sex Addiction??!!

I attended a lecture today which discussed the correlation between eating disorders and sex addiction. Now I can’t speak for all of you out there but personally while I do know that eating disorders have a high rate of being intertwined with other disorders or addictions, sex addiction was never an addiction high on my radar. I have worked in several eating disorder treatment facilities and thought back to the people I encountered. I reflected if there were any underlying sexual issues with anyone I had seen. Nothing stood out to me where I thought ” whoa there was sex addiction somewhere there as well”. So when I received an email about this lecture I was intrigued and excited to learn. It was a very informative lecture touching about many different aspects about someone who has an eating disorder and a sex addiction. There are many similarities especially with the urge, fantasy and reward aspects. I know, having worked with many people who suffer from anorexia it was hard for me to initially understand the correlation between anorexia and sex. The speaker made some key associations, much like someone with anorexia starves or restricts, someone can exhibit sexual starvation behaviors, such as pulling away from relationships, love and touch. It can also be the opposite where someone goes through cycles of longing and seeking out relationships and love and touch in a drastic way which can be correlated to a purge like behavior much like that of someone who suffers from bulimia. While this is still a new concept to me in many ways and I am excited to learn more so I can better understand all and any issues that may come up with my clients so I can better assist and help them. I am curious to your thoughts out there! Have you heard of this? Do you know someone who has experience of sufferering from both an eating disorder & sex addiction or are there any questions you have or more you’d like to know about this topic? I hope to hear your thoughts and opinions. Happy Thursday Everyone!