Seek Out a Fresh Perspective

During my years of viewing food as my enemy, I knew something was not quite right with me. I did some research. This was over forty years ago. No one seemed to know much about anorexia except that it killed this amazing singer named Karen Carpenter. But people were more than willing to present their theories of what was wrong with me.

“She is exerting control in the only way she can.” The implied blame here is that my parents somehow caused me to do this by being over-controlling. Ha. This was NEVER the issue in my house.

“She is vain; she wants to be the next Twiggy.” This was sarcasm. No way was weight the ONLY issue that kept me off the cover of Vogue.

“She is insecure and is trying to fit in.” I was insecure. But none of my friends were living off of twigs and coffee. Why was this my coping strategy?

In the end, I batted away all their theories with a barely lifted hand. My eating disorder baffled me and no amount of theorizing made me well. Today, researchers have tools that allow them to study our brains in amazing detail, with the added bonus that their subjects are still alive. They can watch the brain function, tracking damage and repair in real time. Researchers have learned, for example, that excessive use of alcohol shrinks the brain. This shriveling effect literally leaves the person with less brain to work with than a brain that is not pickled by alcohol. It matters where the brain shrinks too. Addiction is particularly rough on the cortex, the outer layer of the brain. The frontal lobe plays key roles in memory, judgment, impulse control, problem solving and other intellectual skills. It also serves as a regulator for both social and sexual behavior. Can you imagine how challenging it is to make decent recovery decisions with a compromised frontal lobe? I am not sure about all the technical effects of starving one’s brain - but clearly it was not making me smarter, faster, or wiser. The longer I used, the harder it was to THINK. But I did not know that and if I had, I would have not known how to stop the chatter! I believed I was in control; I thought I was making choices; I did not realize that it was the disease doing all the talking.

Getting help usually involves finding a fresh perspective. Who can help you?