January 8th, 2007

deck

anorexia/bulimia merely bad habits?

How do you guys deal with people in your lives who remain consistently ignorant about eating disorders? Especially people who use their slightly-advanced degrees to justify their opinions as if they're fact.

I have a friend who is a LCSW, with no special knowledge about eating disoders or working with eating disordered clients. If he has any specialty at all, it's alcohol counseling.

The other night, he proceeded to tell me that eating disorders are usually just bad habits. I asked why they are called eating "disorders" if they are not disorders, to which he simply said lots of things are called disorders these days that are just different ways of livng or bad habits. While this may be true for some things in the DSM, I don't think this is the case for EDs.

He tried to use some book about the "diseasing of America" to back up his point, but when I asked more about this book (did it reference EDs?), he informed me that he hadn't actually read the thing, just heard the title! (Rule #1: don't mention books in debate if you have not read them, let alone opened theml)

While there is popular debate about whether or not too many little boys are diagnosed with ADHD in the country (and so forth), I'm not sure those with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are in the same boat, nor do I think it's helpful for people to float about with the uninformed notion that deadly psychological disorders are merely bad habits like pulling the labels off of beer bottles when clubbing.

I do hope he never has to treat anyone with anorexia or bulimia. While they are ritualistic, they are not just bad habits that need to be broken. And I don't think having behavioral elements makes them so. I think writing them off as "oh, that's just a bad habit" does damage to understanding of EDs as well as those trying to get help. Pulling of beer labels is a bad habit, but it's not in the DSM and it doesn't exist for the reasons EDs tend to surface.

I am pretty tired of the media and most of the people I know in real life speaking dismissively about EDs, as silly habits that need to be changed, merely the "lifestyle" of the completely vain, or the next hot diet craze. None of these are true and none are useful.

Does anyone else have experience with those who are completely clueless about EDs? I told him, respectfully, that I didn't think he knew enough about the subject at hand to really sit there and say all EDs are bad habits. And I don't think he does. He became defensive and asked if he needed a PhD to have an opinion. I said he didn't, but in reality, some kind of education might lend him more credibility. If someone is going to go about a spout harmful ideas about a immensely painful and life-threatening disorder, it might be useful to have some sort of experience with it -- be it academic or personal.

The fact that he acts like his MSW degree makes his claims legitimate is kind of annoying since he had no real training in EDs at all.

So what do you guys think? Would you juet let it go ot try to educate him? Do you have people in your lives that say dismissive things about EDs or about those who have them? Maybe I will just give him some literature or something (though he obviously doesn't read a lot of the books he sees, it appears).
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Hey, I just learned about this website, http://peoplespharmacy.com/index.asp
It gives natural remedies to health problems.

Here are two that I found useful to me personally from my eating disorder, and I'm sure there are more for other things.

For heartburn - eat broccoli (hate the veggies, can't spell the word, but am trying it tonight because i am SO sick of having heartburn constantly)

For muscle cramps (except pms (OF COURSE!!)) - put soap at the end of your bed...supposedly it really works. If i got cramps i would try it.
Mischa - thoughtful/sad

Laxative discussion

What are your experiences with laxative usage/abuse? By this i mean intake, nasty side effects[besides the obvious], addiction and quitting.

Today i had an unpleasant experience today [almost vomiting/fainting for no reason, which i believe may be from taking too many previous night]which just got me thinking/wondering.

Any comments/views/etc will be appreciated.

Medical Professionals

I am in the medical profession, and I have recently been hired on an eating disorder IP unit for children and adolescents. I was the one who sought out this opportunity, and now I am really scared. I have never been in formal treatment for my "eating issues" (which have ranged from diagnosable anorexia and bulimia) and I am really nervous about the questions I am going to be asked during my screening interview.
My questions for the community are,
1) Should I be honest and admit to some eating problems (running the risk that they may reconsider hiring me) or should I say that I am and always have been normal about food and my body??
2) When/if I do start working there, what should I focus on with the patients? For those of you who did spend time in IP, what did you find helpful from the staff??
I was thinking about focusing on things that these kids are good at...things they used to enjoy before the eating disorder took over...
Any Advice???

Edit: I guess it needs to be said that I am by no means fully recovered, but I am also a lot more stable than I once was...And actually this isn't for a job I am being paid for, it is a 12 week clinical placement required for my program.