Eating Disorder Therapist in Rockville, Maryland. Serving Montgomery County, Maryland. Specializing in the treatment of anorexia, binge eating, orthorexia, bulimia, compulsive exercise.
Brené Brown a prominent shame researcher talks about how she believes that guilt and shame are fundamentally different. Boiled down to the simplest explanation, Brown explains that guilt is,"I did something bad," whereas shame is “I am bad.”
"I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do, makes us unworthy of connection," Brown says.
As an eating disorder therapist in private practice, I have noticed that many of my clients initially struggle with feelings of shame around struggling with an eating disorder, or surrounding their eating disorder behaviors.
This is perfectly understandable given that there are so many myths about eating disorders swirling around.
So just to dispel a few myths:
Eating disorders and Shame
When my clients come into my office and judge themselves for having a setback on the path to recovery-or even simply for struggling with an eating disorder symptom-I try to point it out in that moment.
A couple times I have said, “how many clients do you think that I would help if I said, (and then I will repeat what the clients just said about their behavior ie "It’s so stupid that you had anxiety about eating that," or "You’re such a failure because you used an eating disorder behavior." The client generally laughs or looks surprised and says “Yea that wouldn't help people.” Then, I will say (with compassion) “so what makes you think that is a helpful thing to say to yourself?”
Shaming yourself is never going to be helpful when you are in recovery from an eating disorder (or in general).
In fact, shame often perpetuates the cycle. For instance, if a client binges and purges and then shames themselves for the behavior-they may then restrict food the next day-leading them to be far more likely to binge and purge again. Feelings of shame surrounding their eating disorder, may cause the individual to turn to their eating disorder behaviors as a way to cope.
Many of my clients have mentioned that they didn’t even realize how much they were shaming themselves, until I pointed it out.
I work to help clients move towards viewing and treating themselves through a more self-compassionate lense
Instead of saying, "What the hell is wrong with me, that I’m so anxious about eating this food?"
I would have them practice telling themselves, "I’m recovery from an eating disorder. It’s perfectly understandable that I’m feeling really afraid, and I still need to work to challenge myself by gradually facing the foods I am afraid of.
Brown shares, "Shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgment.”
It's important to acknowledge that your eating disorder has served a function in your life. It may have even helped you to get through some difficult or traumatic circumstances, and it also is no longer serving you.
Through acknowledging this, we can start to uncover the function of your eating disorder and work towards finding new coping strategies that are more in alignment with your true values.
If you are struggling with feelings of shame in your recovery journey, it’s so important to practice being open and honest with people that you trust. If you find that members of your treatment team are shaming you-I’d advise letting them know, and if it persists to find a new team.
With self-compassion and through the use of tools and skills-you can work to find freedom from your eating disorder.
I feel so privileged to be able to work almost exclusively with people with eating disorders. They are some of the most intelligent, kind, resilient, and strong people, that I know.
Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C: is an eating disorder therapist in private practice in Rockville, Maryland. Jennifer specializes in helping teens and adults struggling with anorexia, binge eating disorder, and bulimia, and body image issues. Jennifer provides eating disorder therapy in Rockville, MD, easily accessible to individuals in Potomac, North Potomac, Bethesda, Olney, Germantown, and Washington D.C. Connect with Jennifer through her website: www.jenniferrollin.com
I'm an eating disorder therapist in private practice in Rockville, MD.