Being anorexic is extremely painful, as well as tiring. It drains both the mental and physical energy. The unhealthy obsession and compulsion over calorie counting is the first to take over. This eventually becomes an annoying habit which tends to push many people away. After that, the anorexic would begin to over exercise, losing time to be social. This new loneliness creates depression and more stress, resulting in a downward cycle. Not only that, but it will take time away from sleep, school and/or work. Loss of sleep will cause many issues including hallucinations. Clearly sleep deprivation also makes people lose the ability to focus, so school and/or work will deteriorate too. The bar that others have set will not be met and this will most likely cause the feeling of not being good enough (self worth reduces), and intense pressure to live up to people’s expectations. All this depression, stress and anxiety, build up the drainage of mental energy.
People commonly tell anorexics to, “just eat”, and try to shove food down the anorexic’s throat. They talk to the person as if he/she is stupid, explaining how to eat, step by step. These are both great examples of what not to do. All this does is make the anorexic feel anxious, stupid, frustrated, and annoyed. Telling an anorexic to eat is like telling someone with a dislocated arm to do chin ups. Without the problem, the action is easy. The first thing to do is figure out what the trigger is. If the trigger is taken care of, recovery might become a lot easier. Sometimes teaching anorexics about eating disorders help too. This is called psycho education. Next, tell someone that can help find proper treatment. Keep complimenting the anorexic but be careful not to overdo it. Start getting him/her to eat a little bit, adding a few more calories per day as he/she progresses. Just being a friend for an anorexic has an impact and will make him/her feel cared for, and have a reason to follow through in recovery. Tell him/her to stand in front of a mirror everyday and to compliment him/herself. Be sure not to belittle his/her problems and never make recovery look too easy. The anorexic will feel as if the person helping does not understand what he/she is going through.
A common therapy that professionals use for anorexics who have had Anorexia Nervosa for less than three years is called The Maudsley Approach. This treatment consists of 15-20 sessions over the course of one year. In this treatment, the first step is to return the anorexic to a regular, healthy weight. This step is called Weight Restoration. In this step, the entire household is brought into therapy so that the parents and siblings can help the anorexic (patient) more efficiently. Usually a family meal is conducted. This allows the therapist to examine the family’s usual interaction around eating, and assist the other family members on how to encourage the patient to eat slightly more than he/she planned to originally. A few signs that the patient is ready for the next step is when he/she has learned to accept parental demand of increasing food intake, steady weight gain, and relief and hopefulness is restored in the family. The second step is calledGaining Control. This is for the anorexic to learn how to gain control over eating habits. The therapist mainly trains the parents or guardian in this step. They are trained to make sure their child maintains to eat enough. For example, if the patient asks to go out with friends for a lunch and a trip to the mall, the parents would make the patient eat at home first, then go to the mall with friends. Step three commences when the patient can maintain at least 95% of ideal weight on his/her own and no longer starves him/herself. Step three is called Establishing Identity. This is to clear up any possible triggers for a relapse and reorganize the family’s life. Doing this reduces the risk of a relapse and ensures an elated lifestyle.
Reference to: personal interviews with people struggling with Anorexia Nervosa and sitting in on counselling.