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What Does an Eating Disorder do for You?

By Erika Bent

There are many reasons why an eating disorder emerges. Eating disorders serve a purpose in our lives and can be a way for us to cope with pain and suffering. They can relieve stress. They can be a way to communicate our thoughts and fears. They can be a way to gain control over parts of our lives. It is important to investigate what our eating disorder does for us and how it is connected to parts of our lives.
For many individuals, an eating disorder is a way to communicate what is too difficult to say with words. We often may not realize that we internalize our fear of communicating our needs and wants, which in turn expresses itself through our eating disorder. Our eating disorder suppresses those other needs and wants via disordered eating behaviors (bingeing, purging, restricting, etc.). These behaviors act as a cushion or blanket that cover up the needs and wants that we are unwilling or unable to ask for.
In order to recover from an eating disorder, it is important to be able to express our needs and desires in a healthy manner. We can do this by communicating to our friends and family about what is bothering us and asking for support. We can find healthy coping mechanisms to relieve our stress or worries, such as journaling or collage. Therapy and support groups are also a healthy and safe way to express ourselves and gain the validation and support we need to thrive in our recovery.
Look into how your eating disorder may be serving you and explore ways to express those needs differently.