Posts Tagged “Co-Occurring Disorders”
Beat the Winter Blues to Keep Your Recovery on Track
**Content warning: This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences in recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.
Lisa Whalen has an M.A. in creative and critical writing and a Ph.D. in postsecondary and adult education. She teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at North Hennepin Community College in Minnesota. Whalen’s writing has been featured in several literary journals and edited collections. Her book, Weight Lifted: A Memoir of Hunger, Horses, and Hope, will be published near the end of 2020. For updates and more about Whalen’s writing, visit her website or follow her @LisaIrishWhalen on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Winter is tough, especially in northern states like Minnesota, where 2020 delivered the gloomiest January on record. Meteorologists claim the sun appeared on 3 of January’s 31 days, but I’m skeptical. Maybe I was teaching in windowless classrooms during the sun’s brief peeks from behind gray clouds, but in early February, I couldn’t remember a single yellow ray since mid-December.
When Two Worlds Collide: The Dangerous Intersection of Diabetes and Eating Disorders
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 22 million individuals are living with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. These individuals are also at significantly higher risk for eating disorders. When this dual diagnosis exists, treatment and recovery are often complicated by the complexity and conflicting demands of the two conditions.
Although the approach to treatment can vary among those with Type 1 (DMT1), Type 2 (DMT2), and latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA), it is important to be aware of the increased risk these individuals carry for disordered eating and eating disorders. It is estimated that the risk for ED behaviors is three times higher in individuals with DMT1 (1) and that up to 40% of individuals with DMT2 are affected by ED behaviors (2). There are numerous factors that increase the risk for disordered eating for those with diabetes. Several common challenges include:
How Sobriety Influenced my Eating Disorder Recovery
**Please keep in mind this is one person’s story and that everyone’s path to recovery and beyond will be unique.
Rachel Moe is a Registered Nurse, Emily Program client, Aunt, coffee connoisseur, and writer who loves sharing her experience through recovery in hopes of connecting with and helping others. Rachel started and leads an Eating Disorders Anonymous meeting in Duluth, MN. She also recently started a blog and plans to dive more into recovery advocacy, as she is passionate about ending the stigma around mental illness. She loves to hike, spend time with her family and friends, write, and practice yoga.
I vividly remember the first time I was told by someone that I may be an alcoholic and I should consider a life of sobriety. It was a hot August day in the Twin Cities, I was 24 years old, and sitting in my therapist’s office in a residential treatment center for my eating disorder. I had already been struggling with Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa since the age of 13. My parents were on the couch across from me, tears in both of their eyes, and we were participating in family week at treatment. Now, this was not the first time someone had brought up my drinking and substance abuse to me, this was just the first time that I chose to truly listen to what was being said. I could no longer deny my life was falling apart as a result of alcohol, drugs, and my eating disorder.
The flood of emotions came immediately that day—sadness, shame, anger, grief. I mostly felt sad for my parents. I felt as though I had already inflicted enough pain through my eating disorder, how could I add another diagnosis to the list that has been growing for as long as I can remember? I felt angry that once again, I was different from my peers. In my group of friends, I was always the friend who was too anxious to go out for pizza or ice cream, so how could I also be the sober one as well?
Episode 13: Sarah’s Recovery Story
Peace Meal’s Recovery Stories series features voices of individuals in eating disorder recovery and beyond. This episode features Sarah Churchward, a professional writer and makeup artist. In her late teens, Sarah was diagnosed with both anorexia and chronic narcolepsy. She discusses the process of coming to accept her chronic illness while being in eating disorder treatment and how that process made her into who she is today.
How to Introduce Deep Breathing into your Daily Routine
Stressors are all around us—busy schedules, conflict, challenging jobs, life changes, loss, illness—and sometimes we don’t even notice the effect stress has on us until something forces us to recognize it. Anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and eating disorders are often clear signs that stress has taken a toll on an individual. While these mental health conditions are not caused by stress (they are caused by a variety of things including genetics, psychology, and an individual’s neurobiology), stress often exacerbates these conditions making them more likely to greatly disrupt an individual’s quality of life.
When individuals experience stress, the fight or flight response is activated. This physiological response is the body’s reaction when it believes it is in danger, threatened, or under attack. Unfortunately, our bodies cannot tell the difference between actual and perceived danger, so our body’s reaction to being confronted with a dangerous animal may be the same as its reaction to our friend telling us they have something serious that they want to talk to us about.
When we experience a fight or flight reaction, our bodies produce excess adrenaline and cortisol. The release of these hormones is likely to make our heart rate increase, our bodies tense, and our palms sweat. In an extreme case, this reaction may spiral an individual into a full-blown panic attack, where an individual cannot seem to regain control over their body and mind. In less severe cases, individuals may experience a constant state of mild stress, which can result in a buildup of stress hormones. This ongoing stress can cause tension headaches, poor immune system functioning, mental health illnesses, high blood pressure, and an overall feeling of discomfort and disease.
Of course, in severe cases or when an individual is experiencing mental health concerns, it is important to see a licensed professional for specialized advice and treatment. Luckily, more mild cases can be controlled or dampened by using body-based defenses. In addition to using our breath to control current stress, engaging in a deep breathing or meditation practice daily can promote continued wellbeing and lessen the likelihood of developing stress-related illnesses.
Eating Disorders: The Brain-Gut Connection
Eating disorders are biologically-based brain illnesses that are noted by changes in food behaviors, eating, and self-perception. Eating disorders are complex illnesses that often become increasingly severe.
Over the last decade, we have seen a new area of research take shape as investigators have studied the brain, personality traits that are mediated by how the brain is wired, and how the brain processes reward. Recently, fMRI studies have demonstrated differences in the experiences of reward in individuals with eating disorders compared to controls who have never had eating disorders as well as people who had an eating disorder but are now recovered.
These studies found that people with Anorexia Nervosa experience less stimulation of the reward pathways of the brain, while people with bulimia seem to experience more active reward pathways. Early research examining reward processing in individuals with binge eating disorders shows data similar to those with bulimia. Additionally, there is emerging research on the gut’s connection to mood and brain function that may illuminate our understanding of eating disorders.