We generally support students with more 'a-typical' forms of eating disorder which are more closely linked to anxiety and control. Whilst body-image and self-esteem are connected to such disorders they are not the main driver.
Anorexia Nervosa - there is a strand within this condition which is more closely related to OCD and a 'disgust reflex'. A young person becomes anxious, this anxiety is over-whelming and they feel that their throat 'closes' and they are unable to eat. Over time they get so used to feeling empty that the tummy pains associated with it are a way of self-harming and experiencing a 'release'. These young people often do not go through more ritualistic food behaviours such as cutting food into very small peices, nor do they become obsessed with body images, they simply stop eating.
Bulemia - similarly the young people we work with have high anxiety before developing this condition. The cycle of binging and purging is more associated with OCD and self-harm, driven by an over-whelming need to be able to control something when everything else seems to be enveloping them.
Compulsive eating - we work with more typical forms of this condition, usually linked to extreme depression and anxiety. The food replaces another need (self-validation, love, comfort) and/or is a way of self-harming or 'failing' as the thought of success is too overwhelming. Young people often want to get out and make friends, but the fear and anxiety envelops them - The compulsive eating provides health issues which then become validation for not attempting to get out. Many students we work with have accompanying agorophobic needs.
Slowly getting better - with help
Many such students have already had good support secifically aimed at the disorder. We work on the underlying anxiety and depression, often in a very gentle way initially as the students tend to be introvert and almost 'over-therapised'. We therefore work on sensory activities and art-based, non-talking well-being work initially. We build relationships and get to know the students. After this work is complete we then have a much better view of which talking therapy work will build on the specific therapies they have already had. We focus on dealing with the initial trigger - which is not food or body image related.
SOURCES OF HELP
These services are not associated with us. We are not responsible for the quality of service they provide, we are recommending them based on the positive experiences of some young people known to us. By inclusion in this list nor are we suggesting that we are in any way affiliated with these servcies.
ANXIETY UK - Support, online counselling, magazine, advice
Text line: 07537416905
Info line: 03444775774
Website provides support for young people, professionals and parents. Young people who feel they are having a mental health crisis can get instant emergency support by texting YM to 85258
OCD UK - advice, online counselling, support and magazine. Dedicated youth services.
PAPYRUS - suicide prevention young people's hotline 0800 068 41 41
An eating disorder support service - smaller than some of the bigger associations, but specifically aimed at young people.