The current situation is unprecedented. We understand, that like the majority of people, the situation is causing huge change, anxiety, and disruption to normal lives and normal routines. For those with an eating disorder (ED), this disruption is very likely experienced as upsetting and scary. Living with an ED is already full of fear and panic, and we know that the current situation has the potential to exacerbate this.
As we know, EDs are strange and often unintuitive illnesses, so it may be that the current situation brings a sense of relief to those with an ED. You must stay at home, you must look after yourself, you can learn from others about how to do this. It is the ultimate situation where the world is showing you that you don’t need to do anything (exercise-wise) to deserve to feed yourself. Everyone is staying at home and everyone is eating properly.
Nothing awful will happen if you also allow yourself to stay at home, rest, and feed yourself.
There are a few concerns that have been coming up with people using our support services:
- ‘Doing nothing’ – this can be a triggering feeling that ties into feelings of being ‘lazy’. If you are feeling this way it is important to remember that your ED will want you to feel lazy and will try to make you punish yourself for ‘doing nothing’. If you follow the thought through you can see how the ED is using this idea to punish you – feel ‘lazy’ – fear of eating – restrict food – (binge/purge) – feel worse – distorted thinking intensifies – feel worse and on and on. And we could add, weight loss and becoming very ill to that.
The reality is that no matter what the situation there are NO ‘shoulds’ about what you do or don’t do. It is perfectly ok to do nothing, to be lazy, to rest, to allow your body and mind to rest AND to nourish yourself with regular food.
- Regular food – It is really important to put in place a regular routine for yourself as quickly as possible (or for your person with an ED). Routine is the practical aspect of trying to recover from an ED – routine around eating = routine in digestive system = regular physical effects = more regular mood / clearer thoughts and feelings. And remember that for once it is not only the person with an ED who needs to have a routine and regular eating – it is helpful for everyone! Look at all the advice on keeping your mental health healthy online.
- Which brings us to the next important thing to think about – We are all in this together! Everyone is going to be feeling strange, discombobulated, and anxious at times. These are normal feelings. But watch how other people deal with them. Hopefully, they will still nourish themselves with regular eating, and they won’t feel the need to over-exercise. So, if you have an ED, this could be an opportunity for you to see how you are a person like everyone else. You are able to eat regularly and nothing awful will happen. Resting, staying at home is ok.
But to do all of this, you will need support at times – we are here for you, as are many other organisations.Bodywhys Supports:
- Helpline 01- 2107906 – opening hours here.
- Online groups: BodywhysConnect (19+) and YouthConnect (13-18)
- For those aged 15-24, you can sign up to our SeeMySelf programme.
Other articles related to Covid-19:
- Access to evidence‐based care for eating disorders during the COVID‐19 crisis – International Journal of Eating Disorders
- Beat – UK organisation supporting people with eating disorders
- 7 ways I’ll keep working towards recovery during the pandemic – Rachael, Beat
- Butterfly Foundation – Australian organisation supporting people with eating disorders
- Challenges and Opportunities for CBT-E in light of COVID-19
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and Eating Disorders – Psychology Today
- COVID-19: Eating disorders – Royal College of Psychiatrists
- Eating Disorders During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic – Very Well Mind / Lauren Muhlheim
- First Steps ED – Coping with COVID-19
- HSE – Coronavirus
- HSE – Minding your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak
- HSE – StressControl.org
- Navigating eating disorder recovery during a global pandemic – Amelia Boone, an athlete’s personal perspective
- Recommendations for Patients/Families/Therapists translated into 21 different languages
- UNC Centre of Excellence for Eating Disorders – Staying on the recovery path
- World Health Organisation (WHO) – Information on coping with stress during the outbreak