It's Your Reality

“You get to define which experiences are traumatic for you, whether or not it would impact others in the same manner.  It’s not the objective facts that determine whether an event is traumatic,  but your own emotional experience of the event.”

Dr. Kathleen Young

This is just a quick post, but I read this on a trauma blog tonight and thought it was so well-put.  This is something that i struggle with a lot — whether or not something “counts” as significant.  Maybe I am making it up.  Maybe it was no big deal and I should have been fine.  Maybe I am fine and am just crying wolf.

I’m not even limiting this to trauma — of course I can extend it to eating disorders, too (because I have to somehow relate everything to eating disorders, or so it seems).  There’s always that fear that maybe I’m not sick enough to actually need help.  It’s not that I want to be sicker; I’m just afraid of asking for help that isn’t justified.  What if someone else in my position wouldn’t need help?  What if I’m actually okay-enough?

It is such a good reminder for me that my “own emotional experience” is my reality — and in the end, that’s what is important.  Regardless of whether or not it should “count” as significant, it affects me, my sense of self, my relationships, and my future.

5 thoughts on “It's Your Reality

  1. I always think that I’m not “sick enough/skinny enough” to be in treatment. I feel like I suck at being anorexic, though I don’t want to be in the hospital or dead, so I guess that’s a good thing.

  2. My therapist has told me this time and time again as I have often minimized my experiences. It really is something I think we all need to be reminded of. What ultimately matters is how your experiences place value and beliefs on your life.

  3. A

    This is so true and I’ve always struggled with it. I feel like sometimes I’ve never been ana because I’ve never been hospitalized. This is a really great quote and reminder. thanks.

  4. Palmtreechick – I think that’s a very common thought, and from experience I’ve found that no one thinks that they’re “sick enough” to be in treatment, regardless of how sick they actually are. It really shows you how much the ED can twist your thinking.

    Tiptoe – That’s a good way to look at it. While I am trying to objectify my experience, I really just end up minimizing it.

    A – While the media definitely doesn’t make it seem this way, most individuals struggling with anorexia are never hospitalized. I think that this is related to what Palmtreechick said. I never felt sick enough / anorexic because of _______ (fill in anything here). The ED will find any excuse to convince you that you’re doing a bad job!

  5. callisquirrel

    I used anorexia as a coping mechanism in high school as an attempt to avoid or numb physical and emotional abuse from my alcoholic father. At that time it was helpful, or seemed to be helpful, but I am still left with those mental scares. I returned home for a visit after finding out my mother was diagnosed with stage four terminal breast cancer that has metasticized throughout her bones to include her spine, ribs, and hip. I had vertigo for the first time during this trip home and felt like my world was spinning out of control already. Due to past trauma and fact that I was the target and not my older sister I struggle with being okay with who I am as a person because I clearly deserved to be treated that way growing up since my sister was not physically abused. I must have done something wrong to be hated so much and told that I was hated. So as I experienced these horrible feelings again I returned home and started dieting. I knew ED was holding my hand a week into the diet but kept going. I wanted to be numb again. I didn’t want to feel. I have never been allowed to express emotions otherthan happiness or else I was hurt physically and emotionally by my father. Afraid of being left alone with my father after my mother passes is scary. I don’t even have a relationship with her as my father controls this as well. While I have been in treatment for my AN and am currently working outpatient I wonder if these intrusive thoughts will ever go away! My dietician is all about full weight restoration and claims that this is the only way to eliminate ED thoughts. I want to believe this is true but do not feel that I need to gain any more weight. Can I handle worse body image again as well as rejection from my mother and memories about my childhood with my father? Part of me wonders if I am staying just sick enough so that I don’t have to break that boundary I set of not speaking to my father while I am “in recovery.” How do I move past this, trust weight restoration, reparent myself, and reduce feelings of worthliness left from my father’s harsh wrongdoings?

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