“My eating disorder has been around for as long as I can remember; it started when I was young.” We hear this statement all too often. Eating disorders do not discriminate, they affect people of all ages. In fact, according to SAMHSA, 95% of those with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. Flora was one of those who had an eating disorder for as long as she could remember.
How did the struggle begin?
Eating disorders are complex mental health issues. Many risk factors may interact differently for each person, such as biological, psychological, and sociocultural. For Flora, early childhood trauma and a history of eating disorders in her family impacted her body and body image, and the way she viewed herself and others. Her eating disorder first began with body checking and restricting, both symptoms of anorexia, later as her eating disordered worsened, she began to purge.
Anorexia is an eating disorder that is often characterized by low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted body image. Those battling anorexia will severely restrict the body from much-needed calories and nutrients. Anorexia is not about food, but a dangerous way to try to cope with emotional problems. As is common, Flora did not realize the seriousness of her eating disorder or that she had a problem.
Understanding the Need for Help
In her mid-20’s, Flora moved to the Midwest and begin to realize that she was struggling with an eating disorder. An outpatient program close to home helped to stabilize her behaviors and allowed her to learn new coping skills. However, struggles with infertility, followed by a high-risk pregnancy caused her to relapse.
After her relapse, Flora began attending the outpatient program again. Unlike before though, she struggled to maintain and was unable to stay accountable for her meal plan. Even so, she did not think she needed a higher level of care, but her treatment team felt differently and recommended Selah House.
Selah House Offers Hope
The admissions team at Selah House worked with Flora’s outpatient team to gather all pertinent information, as well as understand her issues and needs. She was admitted to the partial hospitalization program at Selah House which allowed her to remain close to home where she had small children. Once at Selah House, she knew she was in the right place.
“I was minimizing the seriousness of my eating disorder and Selah House gave me the tools I needed to understand it,” shares Flora.
Selah House offered her a compassionate environment that helped her learn how to use her coping tools. “I have always had a lot of trauma around the table and Selah House helped me learn how to face the dining room table and challenged me not to run away.”
The serene, healing environment at Selah House offers women quality, comprehensive care. Using evidence-based individual and group therapeutic interventions, clients can work on their physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health during the process of recovery. Group therapy brings together a diverse group of women who are sharing similar experiences. This provides an excellent opportunity for them to learn and process together.
“When I got to Selah House, I had it in my mind that I would be the fat one and nobody would understand. I found that eating disorders come in all types of body sizes and affect all types of people. Selah House helped me to validate my own experiences.”
In addition to group therapy, Flora found Equine Therapy to be beneficial to her recovery. Selah House follows the EAGALA Model (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association) Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP), which allows a licensed clinician and an equine specialist to utilize the horses in specifically designed ground activities with the clients. This experiential therapeutic approach presents the opportunity for clients to learn about themselves and others by participating in the sessions and then processing the outcome.
Flora shared, “Equine Therapy helped me be able to face my emotions about my past that I couldn’t do alone. It truly helped me validate my past experiences.”
At Selah House, we incorporate a variety of modalities into the treatment of eating disorders, including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is a type of therapy that is useful in helping alleviate the symptoms of trauma. For those who have been affected by traumatic events, EMDR helps to disrupt painful memories so the healing process can begin. Flora found this particular therapeutic intervention to be very helpful, “EMDR was incredibly fundamental in helping me to understand why the dining table made me feel so anxious.”
Additionally, Selah House supported Flora as a mother, “Not only did they allow for me to commute but when my children began to struggle with me being gone, my treatment team allowed for me to video call my children every afternoon so they could maintain an attachment to me. It meant a lot to me that they included my children in my overall treatment.”
Flora’s husband was also able to be part of the treatment during Family Therapy, which helps the family evaluate needs, roles, and processing throughout the journey. Family Therapy allows family members to gain a better understanding of their loved one’s eating disorder and learn how to support them while they are in treatment and when they return home. For Flora this was a positive aspect of her treatment plan, “Family therapy was helpful for my husband and me in healing from our infertility journey. We found the Family Day to be especially helpful when we participated in Equine Therapy and Family Therapy together. It revealed a lot to my husband and me about how the trauma from my past was impacting our relationship.”
Today there are still struggles, but Flora shares that Selah House helps with that, “Yes, I still struggle at times, but it helps to think about Selah House and the lessons I have learned and that gets me on the right path.”
If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, call Selah House today. We can help you find freedom from your eating disorder and live your life to the fullest. Call us to speak with our admissions team or complete our contact form for more information.