Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Can faith help me heal?


I’ve been looking at the terms people put into search engines that lead them to my blog.  One was “Can my faith help me stop purging.”

The title of this picture is “Deadly Prayer.”  Not much of a title for an entry that will be about faith (Faith I and Faith II entries).  But when you think of it, how many people with an eating disorder prayed for all the wrong things?  I know I did?  The “strength” to get through another day without eating.  The “strength” to run yet another mile.  The “courage” to lie and smile and say, “Thanks, but I ate before I got here.”

Can prayer help you stop bingeing or purging or restricting?  Absolutely.  I don’t think it’s the only thing that can help.  I don’t think it’s the only thing you can rely on to help you.  But your faith is an integral part of who you are, and drawing on that faith, that strength, can help you overcome all aspects of the eating disorder.

It still won’t be easy.  But I don’t think God ever told us life would be easy.  And life with an eating disorder or addiction= “not easy” squared.

I only purged for about a year-and-a-half of my anorexic timeline.  It did get severe, and I remember the day that I decided it was a problem was when I stood up at work and walked smack into the wall because I had blacked out.  In front of the secretarial staff.  Of course, I laughed and brushed it off.  And then I went to my office and made the call to set up going inpatient.  Each meal was a prayer or, rather, each hour after every meal was a prayer.  I was lucky enough to be hospitalized with people who shared my faith, and we wrote each other messages and stuck them in “mailboxes” on our doors.  Bible verses or prayers or just well-wishes.  During that hospitalization, I used every tool they gave me to stop purging–art therapy, distraction techniques, anxiety management–and yes, prayer.

I don’t think either the therapy or the prayer alone would have done the trick for me.  It was the combination of the two that gave me the strength to make it through each day.  I never purged after that IP stay.

Gürze Books is a wonderful site with numerous books for recovery, including books that deal with spirituality.  If you are Christian, I found the daily devotional Beyond the Looking Glass to be helpful.  I’ve had friends use Journey From the Storm Within and Seeing Yourself, which is a Christian-based workbook.

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October 8, 2009 - Posted by | coping, Eating Disorders, recovery, therapy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

12 Comments »

  1. ED stole my faith from me. Now I’m learning to get it back. This is a good post for me. I like that you can find the faith to go on.

    Comment by David | October 8, 2009 | Reply

    • I think there was a period of time when the ED stole my faith, too. I talked about it in one of my faith entries. The ED just got in the way of my relationship with God, and my prayers felt hollow and empty. Music was my only connection. I’ve been a Jars of Clay fan since their first album in 95.

      I once went to my college chaplain and said that I was worried that I was playing guitar for college chapel services and was on the board of elders and I felt nothing and saw everyone else and they seemed so filled with God. And he said that other people came to him with the same fears–that they were going through the motions. He said to keep going through the motions, that everyone has those dry spells. he was right.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | October 8, 2009 | Reply

  2. This is a serious issue that IS NOT talked about enough. I had countless people tell me to get on my knees and pray for healing…and that I didn’t have enough faith. This made me ANGRY at God and the church. I didn’t want to go to a christian treatment center because of those experiences-I ended up going to a Christian residential facility and it saved my life. I saw God presented in a NEW way. A God that wasn’t angry or hating me. A God that was patient and forgiving. I had the option of incorporating my faith into treatment, which was empowering to have that control. I realized that therapy is important too. Art therapy, body image therapy, equine, whatever. And my faith was, too. Take every tool possible for recovery.

    Comment by mindy | October 8, 2009 | Reply

  3. I have to admit….for years and I mean since I was in the 5th grade….I would pray to god at night…a very simple prayer…praying for specific people and for them to know I love them and I ALWAYS ended…”please God if you really love me…please let help me lose weight”….I haven’t found God too much in recovery since I like to see myself as the one that has the strength and power to get my through it and own that and no one else although I most definitely believe there is something/someone greater out there….a God for sure. On another note, by junior and senior year I returned to church as really my last resort and last hope…..and without them I never would have survived those years and to this day the loving support they gave me and pretty much adopted me as a second family they were an essential part to my recovery and one of my pastors continues to be so to this day. She would drive up WILLINGLY DURING RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC ONCE A WEEK from DC to Philly to visit me for 3 IN A HALF MONTHS while I was in treatment. She is the one person that I can trust unconditionally and believe that she will love and care about me eating disordered or not.

    Comment by Jessica | October 8, 2009 | Reply

    • I think you have a common story. I think a lot of us stopped going to Church while we were sick for a variety of reasons. And were scared to go back. What will they think? Will they still accept me, even if I’m sick? I know that my church community was a mainstay in my support system. I still keep in contact with my college chaplain. I think anytime we step outside of our isolation into a loving community, some degree of healing takes place.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | October 10, 2009 | Reply

  4. For me traditional therapies and even hospitalizations were not successful. At these facilities they told me all numerous things to try to intervene before I began to act on symptoms. On all of these lists somewhere was prayer. I never listened and this was not one they frequently asked if I had tried. I had an understanding of God and even went to church weekly. However I also believed I did not deserve God’s love or time. I figured he hated me and that I should not worry about praying or spending time with God. He had no reason to be concerned with me. My mind was changed though.

    Alcoholics Anonymous is a proven successful means to treat alcoholism and has even branched off to other groups to treat a variety of addictions. The second step in the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous states that we came to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity. When I began AA one of the individuals reached out to me and we discussed God that evening. My anger towards Him was there and fueled by y eating disorder. That night though I was told that God was like Mr. Potato Head, you can make Him whatever you want and change it frequently, but all the parts and love are still there. This helped to calm my anger. Step three then takes it to the next level say that we made the decision to our lives and our will over to the care of God AS WE UNDERSTOOD HIM. This i done through prayer. Daily conversation with a God of my understanding. In prayer I can express my needs and thoughts and fears. I turn my worries over to him.

    So if this works for alcoholics and they can base recovery form their addiction based on faith and spiritual principals, can we not carry this over to eating disorders?

    Comment by chancensmiles | October 8, 2009 | Reply

    • I absolutely believe that AA can be carried over for eating disorders. If you have found AA successful, you may want to try Overeaters Anonymous (http://www.oa.org). I know they accept all eating disorders, although I do know some anorexics have felt uncomfortable initially. But an addiction is an addiction, and if you have found addiction work to be beneficial in your recovery, then use it.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | October 10, 2009 | Reply

  5. I’m so glad you mentioned faith. I almost didn’t even believe (hmm that isn’t the right word) or didn’t believe that God could love me when all this stuff was going on.

    I went back to church (not even then, just accepted the idea) and just felt loved again. I didn’t totally feel like I deserved it, but knew that I would get it, no matter what.

    Eating by the Light of the Moon is another lovely book–not really spiritual by nature, but really connects you to the ideas of your body and faith. I’ll have to take a look at some of your suggestions.

    PS Your little boy is adorable (I love kids!)

    Comment by imaginenamaste | October 8, 2009 | Reply

  6. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about how to treat binge eating disorder at home.
    Regards

    Comment by http://bulimiatreatmentguide.com/how-to-treat-binge-eating-disorder-at-home | January 3, 2013 | Reply

  7. Your current write-up provides established helpful to us.
    It’s really educational and you’re simply certainly very well-informed in this field. You possess popped my personal sight to numerous views on this specific subject together with intriguing, notable and solid articles.

    Comment by accutane | April 21, 2013 | Reply

  8. Hi, I don’t know how to contact you privately, so I have to post here:
    I ask you to take down the picture “Deadly Prayer in your blog. The person depicted is me and since I no longer allow pictures of me taken by Vathor being shown anywhere I ask you kindly to remove it. The source is already closed. If you have any questions about it mail me.
    Thanks

    Comment by Mandy | July 30, 2013 | Reply

    • it’s been taken down.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | August 16, 2013 | Reply


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