• Gina Behm, MA, LPC

Instagram Series: NEDA Week

Hi y'all! Last social media series catch up post here! I'm excited to push this out because that means all of these informational series are up to date here permanently for y'all when you need them, AND it means my next post will be a return to some new content. Let's goooo!


NEDA week stands for National Eating Disorder Awareness week, and while Eating Disorder Awareness should be spread year round, this is our field's seven days to shine! Eating Disorders are widespread, they affect ALL humans of every color, gender, ethnicity, religion, SES status and most importantly, they are DEADLY. The combination of suicide rates and severe medical consequences of this disorder land it the deadliest psychiatric disorder of them all. A lot of people only think of the movie version of anorexia when they think of eating disorders, which is actually a relatively small percentage of the disorder. ALL types of EDs have SERIOUS medical complications, so it is imperative that we know what eating disorders are; you might save a life if you recognize one. This series was created in hopes of raising awareness about eating disorders so you can recognize them and help those in need, so lets get to it!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀


PART 1: EMOTIONAL DISORDER

Eating Disorders follow the addiction model. Addictions are band aids for avoiding emotional disturbances; they are unhealthy coping mechanisms that need love and support to motivate change. It's not a behavior modification, it's an emotion modification.


PART 2: COGNITIVE FUNCTION DRASTICALLY DECLINES...

You. Need. Nourishment. To. Survive. And. Thrive. Your cognitive function SHARPLY declines after consuming less than 50% of your daily needs. These needs include water, food, safety, love (connection) and much more.


PART 3: SURVIVAL MODE

Survival mode is our evolutionary response to danger or death. The brain observes danger and the body reacts. The most basic example of this is our fight or flight response. Often times after a period of restriction, we feel a surge of energy, which is our body's adrenaline response kicking in. Your brain cannot decipher that you are restricting on purpose, it can only decipher, "we're dying!!", and it leaps into action. This surge of energy is your body telling you to GET 👏🏻 UP 👏🏻 and GO 👏🏻 FIND 👏🏻 FOOD 👏🏻. Why is this problematic? People with eating disorders can easily mistake this adrenaline rush for energy, falsely convincing themselves they are functioning even during periods of restriction.


PART 4: NONRESPONSIVE TO LOGIC & FACTS

The combination of cognitive decline and emotional disturbance that eating disorders create make it quite difficult for individuals struggling with Eating Disorders to respond to logic and facts. They may hear you and understand you, and potentially even agree with you, but a lot of times they believe that is true for "other people, not me". The facts and logic won't sink in for them personally, or aren't big enough motivators.


PART 5: PROCESSING BIAS

What is Processing Bias? It's when you are hyper focused on the small details instead of the bigger picture, and choose the small detail that supports your preferred narrative; in other words, filtering out the bigger picture. This is dangerous because we start to feel like we ARE using logic and facts, so what we are doing DOES make sense; but this is wrong, we have tunnel vision and it needs to widen.


PART 6: THE ILLUSION OF CONTROL

By now we know that EDs are coping mechanisms for pain and suffering. In a world where we can't control others and we can't control our emotions, people may scramble to find something they can control - their weight, their calorie intake, their exercise regimen etc. But here's the thing, this search for control only leaves you in an illusion. The repercussions on ED (medical, emotional, relational) spin way out of your control quicker than you'll ever expect.


BONUS POST! I had this post in my back pocket, but ended up not using it. I figured I will share it here, so for those of you who have stuck it out through these catch up posts, here is your prize!

PART 7: DISORDERS OF DISCONNECTION

Eating Disorders are Emotional Disorders AND Disorders of Disconnection. Throwing it back to our Shame Series, eating disorders thrive in shame and isolation. When you choose your eating disorder, you miss out on parties, happy hours, dinner dates and so much more because you are avoiding food and/or choosing exercise etc. The thing we know about shame is that it is healed through connection; we cannot find our inherent value without first allowing it in from external sources, like friends, family and therapists. Eating Disorders are the same way; in order to heal you have to go out into the world and engage with others! Learn about yourself, your values, your skills and so much more. Make relationships that are worthy and you care about keeping. You have to FIGHT the disconnection, you have to remember your eating disorder WANTS you to be isolated; it's a greedy b*tch, it wants you to itself. But you are worth so much more, you will bring light into many lives. Please share your light with all of those out there who are just waiting to find it!


So that's all folks! There is SO much more information to be learned in regards to eating disorders, so I do encourage you to be proactive and look into more on your own time. Reminder that if you would like to see my full post comments, you can do so on my Instagram and Facebook pages. I highly encourage you to do so for this series in particular, because I shared a lot more info, including examples, that I did not put here for the sake of time and space.


Note to Readers: Many of these facts and terms came from my favorite breakout session during the Oklahoma Eating Disorder Association Conference I attended in Fall 2019. The talk was given by Ryanne Mitchell, entitled,"Recovering Resilience: increasing cognitive flexibility". So if you have time, check her out as well! I'm willing to bet she's got some pretty great insight to share on eating disorders as well!


Until next time y'all,

-xo, gi

7381 W. 133rd St., Suite 260, Overland Park, KS 66213

‪913.735.9527‬

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© 2019 by Gina Behm, MA, LPC