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Question
Posted by: schmeggs | 2010/09/09

TRAUMA AND ANOREXIA

I had anorexia when I was 18 (Im now 37). 2 weeks ago we had a housebreaking where I woke up with three men standing over me. Luckily, I had a panic button and no harm was done to me and my 3 girls. Hoever, since then, I dont want to eat and its all I think about - the housebreaking and not eating. I know I should go to the doctor but Im not even sure that I want to. Ive always been thin after the anorexia, I weigh 49 kg and am 1.67m tall. Help? I think ? I live in a small town where there are no Councillors etc ...

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageEating Disorders Expert

Hi Schmeggs,
What a dreadful experience and a very difficult one to resolve, even though no physical harm was done to you and your three daughters. My wife and I had a similar experience a few years ago, so I can relate to what it must have felt like. We both (even though we are both psychologists) went for debriefing counselling at the police station following our armed robbery, which we found critically important to help us more forward. I strongly advise and wish that I could insist that you do the same. The police service actually offers excellent debriefing, but I am not sure if they provide it in your small town. If you can afford it, you might want to see a psychologist who specialises in trauma in a city closest to you. Schmeggs, you cannot underestimate the experience you went though. Your mind and body will remember it for some time. You will likely experience (if you are not already) flashbacks, which is the mind’s way of seeking resolve. Please reach out and seek support. Talk to a professional and talk to family and friends. If you live reasonably close to Cape Town, email me and I will refer you to some specialists. Now, the fact that you don’t want to eat is quite an understandable response. However, that does not make it normal or alright. Your previously active anorexia was a coping mechanism and your latest trauma has clearly reactivated it. It is quite usual, even years after recovery from an eating disorder, to suddenly revert to previous eating disordered behaviour following a crisis or traumatic event. A car crash, for example, can suddenly provoke old bulimic behaviour in much the same way that an alcoholic might relapse following a bereavement or loss. What you cannot afford is to allow yourself to be thrown back into an active anorexic state when right now you need to resolve the terrible trauma you experienced and move on with your own and your family life. You need to be strong for yourself and your three girls, while starving yourself is completely counter to this. At 49 kilograms you are already uncomfortably underweight, and you need to consider restoring about 5 kilograms. I understand that you say that you have always been thin since being anorexic, but remaining very slim keeps you at risk. Think about consciously eating healthy as part of recovering what you have been through and moving forward. You have to be very conscious now to be nurturing to both yourself and your children. You simply have to make the decision to give you this to yourself and take little steps forward, one at a time. Does that make sense?
Regards,
Graham

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2
Our users say:
Posted by: x | 2010/10/31

I agree with Dr Alexander..

I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa at the age of 15. I turned 30 a few weeks ago and still live with this dreaded, stupid, obsessive disease everyday of my life.

I have recently relocated to China to join my partner - the most amazing person and most wonderful partner on earth, but still far away from the support structure that knows and understands this complicated disease and my very unhealthy relationship with food.

Get in touch with someone that can help, support and understand you Schmeggs. Your daughters need their mommy and you need to be healthy and strong for them.

One day at a time.. you know how it goes. Hang tight. Look after yourself.

X

Reply to x
Posted by: Eating Disorders and Obesity Expert | 2010/09/09

Hi Schmeggs,
What a dreadful experience and a very difficult one to resolve, even though no physical harm was done to you and your three daughters. My wife and I had a similar experience a few years ago, so I can relate to what it must have felt like. We both (even though we are both psychologists) went for debriefing counselling at the police station following our armed robbery, which we found critically important to help us more forward. I strongly advise and wish that I could insist that you do the same. The police service actually offers excellent debriefing, but I am not sure if they provide it in your small town. If you can afford it, you might want to see a psychologist who specialises in trauma in a city closest to you. Schmeggs, you cannot underestimate the experience you went though. Your mind and body will remember it for some time. You will likely experience (if you are not already) flashbacks, which is the mind’s way of seeking resolve. Please reach out and seek support. Talk to a professional and talk to family and friends. If you live reasonably close to Cape Town, email me and I will refer you to some specialists. Now, the fact that you don’t want to eat is quite an understandable response. However, that does not make it normal or alright. Your previously active anorexia was a coping mechanism and your latest trauma has clearly reactivated it. It is quite usual, even years after recovery from an eating disorder, to suddenly revert to previous eating disordered behaviour following a crisis or traumatic event. A car crash, for example, can suddenly provoke old bulimic behaviour in much the same way that an alcoholic might relapse following a bereavement or loss. What you cannot afford is to allow yourself to be thrown back into an active anorexic state when right now you need to resolve the terrible trauma you experienced and move on with your own and your family life. You need to be strong for yourself and your three girls, while starving yourself is completely counter to this. At 49 kilograms you are already uncomfortably underweight, and you need to consider restoring about 5 kilograms. I understand that you say that you have always been thin since being anorexic, but remaining very slim keeps you at risk. Think about consciously eating healthy as part of recovering what you have been through and moving forward. You have to be very conscious now to be nurturing to both yourself and your children. You simply have to make the decision to give you this to yourself and take little steps forward, one at a time. Does that make sense?
Regards,
Graham

Reply to Eating Disorders and Obesity Expert

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