Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Conquering Fear (WSJ article)

For those, like me, who often find Cognitive Behavioral therapy unhelpful, you may be interested in the article in the Wall Street Journal's Health Journal on January 2 which describes Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. This type of therapy centers on being mindful of negative thoughts, but not necessarily forcing them to change or argue with them.

I've been working on being more mindful for a few years - it was why I switched therapists a few years ago because CBT wasn't working for me. My current therapist is more in lines with this philosophy. To be aware of my feelings, acknowledge them, try to describe them if I can, and then ultimately share them with someone in my life.

I find when I remember to do this - breathe, feel the feelings, describe them (with perhaps an analysis of why I feel them), and share them, I tend to feel better and am better able to manage my eating disorder symptoms.

The trick for me is to remember to be mindful...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Hosting a parasite

I just finished reading The Host by Stephanie Meyer and I couldn't help but see the connection with my eating disorder. 

******Spoiler Alert*******

******Spoiler Alert*******

For those who haven't partook, The Host is set on Earth after an alien parasitic race has settled here. There are renegade humans left who have refused to be taken. One parasite (Wanderer) is implanted in one of the renegades (Melanie) in the hope that she would lead the aliens to the rest. Melanie is strong though and doesn't allow Wanderer to take over completely. Throughout the book, these two entities share one body and their thoughts and feelings often become intertwined. 

In the end of the book, Wanderer willingly sacrifices herself so that Melanie can have her body back. Against her wishes  but with her hopes, Wanderer is implanted into another human - one who had been taken over by the aliens for so long that the human inside her body was completely gone. 

The similarities with eating disorders are striking. The longer one struggles with an eating disorder, the harder it is to fight. Eventually, the human gets lost and is unable to function without the parasite - like the human into whom Wanderer is implanted. She had been controlled by a parasite for so long, the human was completely gone. 

Like the characters in the book, I feel like there are two entities inside me - Jeanne and Ed. I like to hope that Ed is the parasitic alien. 

Unfortunately, real life isn't like the world in the book.  There is no operation to remove Ed from my body. There are no medicines I can take. 

I can keep fighting to keep myself alive with the hope that someday there will be a way to remove Ed completely. Like Melanie in the book, I can keep trying to stay in control of my body, biding my time until I can have my body and life back. Hope is a powerful thing. 

Melanie was lucky - Wanderer didn't want to be a parasite. She willingly gave up her life to give Melanie her body, her life back. Ed isn't altruistic. He'll remain inside me until forcibly removed. But like Melanie, I won't willingly give up my body. I won't stop fighting. I'll keep trying to be me despite him. I will argue and yell at his voice and when I feel weak, I will ask for any help available to me. 

And perhaps, someday, there will be a way to remove Ed from me completely.