Alfred Hitchcock once said, “there is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” Thus, if you’re currently thinking about getting treatment but have a lot of anxiety anticipating it, that definitely makes sense! Treatment seems a lot scarier than it really is, especially if you haven’t tried it yet. This is probably why more than 70 percent of individuals with an eating disorder don’t ever seek help or treatment.
During this time in limbo, between the acceptance of the disorder and reaching out for help, you may find yourself justifying your hesitation. I hear from a lot of clients, “I’m not sick enough,” “Now is not the right time,” “I have too much going on at work,” and “Who is going to take care of my family?” All of these reasons may be true, but they are not the real reason why someone doesn’t commit to getting help. Fear is the reason someone doesn’t commit because fear comes from the unknown. When a person has an eating disorder, it can feel comforting to maintain that “relationship.” An eating disorder may seem like your friend because to you it is safe and known, but in reality it is silently hurting you.
When preparing for eating disorder treatment at any level, here are some tips for managing the anxiety and fear associated with the anticipation.
Make a List of Reasons Why You Need Treatment:
Reminding yourself of the reasons you need help may be the motivation you need to continue the pursuit. For example, a lot of clients write on their list “family, children, career, education, and health.”
Participate in a Professional-Led Virtual Support Group:
These are not permanent treatment solutions, but can be great in the beginning stages to help give you a place to feel supported and heard. Always remember that it is imperative to choose a support group that is facilitated by a mental health professional. For example, we are running a dietitian-led virtual support group called Dine Online. This may be a good way to get your feet wet before you jump in!
Up Your Self-Care Game:
During times of increased anxiety, it is always a great idea to increase the amount of self-care you are practicing to help mitigate the negative symptoms anxiety can have on our body. Some ideas for self-care might include: taking a bubble bath, spending time with friends, relaxing in your garden, or journaling.
Lean On Your Supports:
Your family and friends may not understand exactly what you’re going through, but they will understand when you ask for emotional support. Emotional support can look like a shoulder to lean on, an ear to bend, or a fun distraction.
Hold Yourself Accountable:
Do what you can to educate yourself and ask questions to learn more about what treatment will look like and then commit! Circle the start date on your calendar, tell as many people as you can, and make the decision that there is no turning back.
Here at Eating Disorder Solutions, we know that the process of starting treatment is not an easy one, so we are here to help you through it. If at any time you feel you are ready but need a little extra help making this decision, we can answer all of your questions and give you guidance, as we have been there too!