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Anorexia - challenges of early recovery

Recovering from anorexia nervosa is one of the most difficult health challenges that a person can face. Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that causes sufferers to starve themselves in response to an incorrect body image.

The more a sufferer starves themselves, the more difficult it becomes for them to view their body in a realistic way, and they fail to see that they have moved past the slimmer figure they desired to become skeletal an malnourished and have placed their very lives in grave danger.

Because the behaviours of anorexia nervosa result from psychological problems - often feelings of inadequacy or lack of control, this illness is similar to a substance addiction or mental illness and is just as difficult to recover from. There are some important challenges to overcome as part of the recovery process that are not always apparent at the beginning of the process.

Anorexia nervosa is a psychologically based illness that arises as a coping mechanism. Sufferers use it as a means to retreat from the world - thereby stunting not only their physical growth, but also their psychological and emotional growth. This process may begin when the sufferer is still a child, and last for many years. Therefore, when the healing process starts, it's vital to remember that though the sufferer may be physically an adult, often they are emotionally much younger. Recovery is not just a matter of feeding the body and returning it to an adult state, it is also about allowing time for the sufferer's psychology to grow to adulthood.

This process of growing into psychological maturity often results in feelings of disillusionment, loneliness, disappointment, sadness and fear. It is these feelings that must be guarded against, as they may lead to relapse. The key to dealing with these emotions is to develop a concrete structure to life that makes the recovering sufferer feel safe, and to instate support groups such as 12 step programs or psychiatrists that will help generate a feeling of community and guide the sufferer safely back to both physical and emotional health.



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