I had a call today from a young woman who was interested in one of our bulimia workshops. She asked me if this single day would help her recover from a 15 year illness that has so far resisted CBT, counselling, and even schema focused therapy.
Why do some people find it so hard to recover from bulimia? Psychologists suggest that resistance to treatment infers a personality disorder such as impulsive, narcissistic or borderline personality disorder (you can Google these). But being categorized in this way doesn’t really help the people who struggle with their illness.
In my experience, bulimia starts as a way of controlling calories. Soon it becomes a way of helping people to block or manage bad feelings. People start bingeing because it gives them the excuse to purge, which is the true addiction. They cannot stop no matter how much they promise “this is the last time…” The solution has become the problem.
People with bulimia have two lives; the normal life and the bulimia life. The bulimic life becomes the real person doing all the thinking and the planning, the bulimic feelings and behaviours. In time the person becomes just the ghost in her “normal life”; he or she is half present for everything that calls for attention.
No wonder it is so hard to give it up. It feels as if the person as she was doesn’t really exist anymore. How will she or he cope with life, food, feelings, people, stress - without the bulimia?
I do 3 hour breakthrough sessions for hopeless cases. In treatment for sustained bulimia – see eating-disorders.org.uk - I would have 3 people in the room; the ghost, the bulimic and me. I would find a fast way to help the ghost to find his or her voice and commit to battle from a place of strength. This is because the real person who wakes up knows that this is no way to live. Sometimes this therapy involves very creative tools, such as Emotional Freedom Therapy and NLP.
call 0845 838 2040 for details
0845 838 2040