Can anyone fully recover from an eating disorder?

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Eating disorders can run the gamut from anorexia to bulimia. All can throw a patient into a difficult fight to overcome the problem. Psychotherapist Joanna Poppink discusses whether anyone can fully recover.

Transcript You’ve got an eating disorder. You want to get better. You don’t want your eating disorder anymore. What is recovery? When you are first starting to look for it, thinking, if only I didn’t have to do this. But what I have seen is that not acting out is not enough for recovery. You don’t binge anymore. You don’t purge anymore. You don’t starve anymore. You are not imprisoned by the scale anymore. You can put on the skirt that’s a little tight and not have a heart attack about it. You can put on the skirt that’s a little loose and not suddenly feel that you are queen of the day and you could just be so thin that you would be worshipped by millions. It’s gone. It’s over. But it’s not enough for recovery. What I have found is that eating disorders cause so much pain in a person’s life for so many years that getting better is not enough. All that pain has to mean something. If you think about it, you have been into the depths of despair that many people don’t venture into and you learn something when you are there. You know something that other people don’t know. So when you get well in terms of no longer having the symptoms or the need for the symptoms, you can now draw the wisdom, yes, the pain turns into wisdom that you can bring into the world. It doesn’t mean you have to become an eating disorder therapist to help other women who have eating disorders, some people do but it means that you know something. Maybe it will come out in art; maybe it will come out in more of a compassion and empathy when you do business. Maybe it will come out in a richer way of listening to what people are really saying who are friends, who are family, who are business associates or who are marching down the street with placards. You bring that into the world because you have it, because you earned it, because you walked through all those horrible years with your eating disorder. And you keep the knowledge but you don’t have to keep the pain, and that’s what recovery looks like - real freedom and empowerment because of eating disorder.
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  • Joanna Poppink M.F.T.

    Joanna Poppink M.F.T. Psychotherapist Joanna Poppink, MFT, is a licensed psychotherapist with a private practice in Los Angeles. Joanna has more than twenty-five years of experience specializing in treating adults with eating disorders. She suffered from bulimia for many years, found recovery and uses both her professional expertise and personal knowledge to support her clients. She studied journalism at Northwestern University, psychology at UCLA, Antioch and the Saybrook Institute. She corresponds with women throughout the more about this expert »

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