We just arrived in Tuscany yesterday and I think I may have died and gone to heaven. It really is one of the most beautiful places on earth. After going for a walk my mind got to thinking. People, and often parents, will ask me what causes someone to develop an eating disorder. It is a really valid question to ask not only for our own knowledge but also so that we can be sure to never do said thing again. I really wish it were as easy as finding a specific cause, an explanation for why those struggling live in personal hell for so long. Unfortunately when it comes to eating disorders it isn’t that easy. It is different for everyone. Of course there are some that we hear more often (I was repeatedly teased for my weight when I was younger by peers or family, I have a history of sexual abuse trauma, it wasn’t safe for me to experience my emotions and so I turned to food or restricting instead) but there are also just as many unexplained reasons.Additionally, what causes an eating disorder in one person might not have the same affect on another.
So while having an answer can be validating, what is important is not that you have a reason for having an eating disorder but rather that you have an eating disorder. My point being that if we focus too heavily on the reason, we are losing sight of what we need to do to heal. Having an explanation doesn’t necessarily make recovery easier. As a parent knowing why your child developed an eating disorder seems critical. While I don’t disagree that it can be helpful to know, I also think it shifts the focus away from how we can help your child. For someone who is struggling, having a reason still means you have to take the necessary steps forward to heal.
So please, if you can, take yourself off the hook for trying to find an answer. All of the pain you are going through makes you deserving to get well, an explanation doesn’t. If you have searched and are still left uncertain of why you struggle with food and/or self give yourself permission to stop looking. Turn towards yourself and take the time to focus instead on what you are going to commit to that will bring happiness, health and most importantly peace to your life.
Keep well my friend,