The Journey of Healing From Eating Disorders With Reiki
You may see somebody not eating to the point of starvation or somebody forcing themselves to throw up, and it can be easy to judge whether they are simply acting out or are being vain. You might think that they can just snap out of it when things start to get out of hand. But the sad reality is that these are symptoms of eating disorders, and eating disorders are mental health conditions with serious physical health complications at hand that need healing.
Eating disorders that can take many forms including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder have a significant impact on an individual’s physical, psychological, and social well-being. It’s even recognized as one of the deadliest mental illnesses in the US. It may be the result, in the form of an emotional response to feeling judged, ashamed, body shaming, feeling unworthy, a lack of control, competitiveness, being indoctrinated by perfection from an early age, and the list goes on. Kindness and understanding go a long way for those who suffer, especially if the one suffering is yourself.
For those experiencing anorexia or possible experiencing it, you may start to notice you are restricting your food intake and obsessing about how much you are exercising. Everyone is telling you you’re losing so much weight but when you feel like you still have so much fat to lose.
You may be suffering every day with that persistent and intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, and you don’t see that you are already underweight. Anorexia Nervosa is responsible for you having a distorted body image and preoccupation with food, weight, and shape.
You may start to feel weak, fatigued, dizzy, and even faint. Malnutrition, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and hormonal disruptions are at play as dangerous eating habits can cause a range of health problems.
Psychologically you also feel so down as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviors, social isolation, and impaired cognitive function can also be present when you suffer from this disease.
Living with anorexia nervosa can be a constant struggle. You experience intense cravings for food but are unable to give in to those cravings due to your fear of weight gain. You may experience social pressure to conform to traditional beauty standards and face stigma or misunderstanding from those who do not understand the complexity of your illness.
When I was 16, I suffered from bulimia. If you have or had experienced bulimia, it involves suffering bingeing on large amounts of food, followed by purging the food by vomiting, using laxatives, or excessive exercise. Your struggle with bulimia can be difficult to handle mentally, physically and emotionally.
You’re likely to feel overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame with each binge-purge cycle. God knows I did. For me, bulimia started with shame to begin with so each time an episode occured I had added more layers of guilt and shame than I could’ve imagined in what felt like a never ending cycle. I could see the need to stop was in front of me, but it felt more and more unattainable back then and the fear of stopping was also uncomfortable. When you have bulimia you feel like you are losing control and feel isolated as you try to keep your illness a secret. All these while feeling intense anxiety and fear of gaining weight, leading to more binges and the negative cycle continues.
You start to feel the physical toll that the disorder takes on the body. Frequent purging causes damage to the digestive system, including stomach ulcers, acid reflux, and kidney problems. The terrible, sour scent from vomiting is unpleasant to be around too, and sometimes makes you involuntarily vomit some more.
The constant binge-purge cycle can also lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and heart problems. Managing bulimic disorder can be exhausting. It’s a daunting task.
Binge Eating Disorder
The only difference between Binge Eating Disorder from Bulimia Nervosa is that the patients do not have purging behaviors after binge episodes. But just the same they overeat and end up with feelings of depression, guilt, and shame.
Understanding Why We May Have Eating Disorders
There’s no easy way to pinpoint how you develop an eating disorder. The reason is often complex and multifactorial. Biological, psychological, and cultural factors can all contribute to the development of an eating disorder.
Psychological factors such as low self-esteem, anxiety, and a negative body image due to negative and painful experiences can also contribute to the development of an eating disorder. Growing up with critical parents or family or cultural factors such as societal pressures to be thin may be the root of the illness.
The idealization of thinness in the media can also contribute to the development of an eating disorder. But sometimes the illness may also be because of genetics. Individuals with a family history of eating disorders may be more likely to develop the condition themselves.
For me, it was a complication of everything mentioned above, plus having to live on my own at 17 years of age when I moved from the busy easy to get around on my own city that is Hong Kong to a suburb in the States without a driver’s license and had to depend on some distant family friends to take me around (Uber didn’t exist back then and buses weren’t readily available. It was the last year of high school where everyone already knew everyone, friendship circles were clear and divided in a way that felt natural at that high school. Even senior year prom dates had already been decided basically the year before. I couldn’t have felt more alone at that time. I felt an overwhelming sense of shame and loss of control over my own life because of decisions that I didn’t fully understand at the time as a family.
How Reiki and Intuitive Healing From Eating Disorders Like It Did For Me
Healing from eating disorders is possible but it requires specialized treatment that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of the illness. Support from loved ones can also do wonders.
You would benefit from professional medical help and therapy. It’s essential to see a healthcare professional to assess the severity of the disorder and create an individualized treatment plan. Eating disorders treatment has very limited resources. Many rely on psychotherapy drugs but apart from that it is important to also seek alternatives to help heal from the disorder.
In my case, I didn’t have the resources back then to be supported by a healthcare professional but I was really lucky. I remembered one particular day after another excruciating episode of bulimia, I felt so overly tired of where I was at physically, mentally and emotionally and I asked myself one key question (and I stress, this particular method as applicable to me at the time and not as a piece of general advice whatsoever). The question was, “If I were to die right now because of where I’m at, have I lived enough life to go now?” The answer was no. I reminded myself of the people I loved and the hope in wanting to achieve more by living a fuller life and somehow in that unbelievably conscious moment I found the motivation to stop myself from continuing with bulimia. I reminded myself that I just had another month or two more of senior year in high school, that I would turn 18 soon and be able to drive myself, and soon enough be able to have more control over my life again the way that would have felt much more enough emotionally.
I don’t think my solo approach was the healthiest decision that I had ever made, but at the time I didn’t have the support or resources to manage it better. The frequency of bulimia episodes had died way down and over the years after that particular day I would still binge eat here and there for comfort or as a way to reduce stress. I’d feel guilty and ashamed too, but I felt my food down most of the time, so yes there would be some occasional episodes a few times a year.
Later on I had been introduced to talk therapy and it was lovely to be able to talk to someone about these issues as a form of self-discovery but at the time I didn’t really feel it was helping me heal around the actual behavior. It wasn’t until I reconnected with energy work and Reiki I worked on myself a ton and finally broke free of my bulimic behavior. I needed to address my shame, my guilt, my anger and resentment.
These were key emotions that drove me down that unhealthy path leading me to disrespect my body that I paid for with a range of health conditions, from hormonal imbalances that led to PCOS (as a result, very disruptive menstrual cycles) to a thyroid disorder (Hashimoto’s), type 2 diabetes, and lots of inflammation in my body that is related to skin allergies. When I focused my practice more on Reiki and emotional energy healing, I was really lucky to be able to start healing from these deep seated emotions. My PCOS issue is relatively stable, I no longer have a thyroid disorder and I am free of diabetes. The inflammation in my body is still a work in progress. I had no idea how much histamines were in everyday foods and had played such a big role in my diet.
Now that I do have more resources than when I was 17, I work with a functional medicine nutritionist to go through the scientific aspects of my health and diet and expand my understanding behind food. I also check in with a nutritional behavioral therapist to soundboard with as my intention is to continue cultivating a deeper and healthier relationship with food and my body. I find both to be incredibly helpful in combination with Reiki and Intuitive Healing as I continue to heal on a holistic level.
It’s interesting because while I may not be physically in the best shape of my life, I feel far more happy, confident, aligned and healthy with myself and my body than ever in my life. Un-chasing the ego’s desire to get my body back to the shape I was when I was a young adult and increasing my desire to be respectful of my body in the present made a massive difference too.
The commitment to self-care is very important and I truly believe that one effective and great holistic approach to healing is Reiki. Reiki can be used as a complementary therapy to support the healing process of individuals with eating disorders by reducing stress and anxiety, improving self-esteem and body image, promoting relaxation, and enhancing emotional and spiritual well-being. The benefits of Reiki is quite a long list.
Reiki treatments involve the use of hands-on healing or or distance Reiki healing techniques to channel healing energy to the mind, body, mind, spirit and emotions. Reiki can help to reduce the stress and anxiety due to mental disorientation that eating disorders may bring. You can learn more about what Reiki is, and isn’t here. And I briefly mentioned Intuitive Healing before, which is a form of advanced Reiki with a special focus on emotional energy healing. You can learn about Reiki and Intuitive Healing here.
Eating disorders can be a torture especially as you deprive your body of food. Reiki can help in bringing back your emotional stability and help heal from the trauma you’re causing to your body.
Reiki can also help you regain high-quality sleep to keep a healthy energy level and for quick healing.
As eating disorders also cause you to feel weak and your body in pain, Reiki can help give a positive boost and help with discomfort. Many develop eating disorders as they become overly conscious about their weight and the way they look and Reiki can also help in supporting the subconscious emotions that lead to weight issues. Reiki can help you become more centered mentally and gives you the positive boost you need.
It is essential to understand that eating disorders are serious mental health conditions that require patience to overcome. The recovery is not a linear process and may take time. With the right support and guidance, a person can manage and overcome their disorder, leading a happy and healthy life.