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Eating Disorders Among Women Over 30: Healing Challenge

Adult women with eating disorders are at last being acknowledged.  If this is you, then you don't need to hide your condition any longer.  You can come forward to learn what help and healing is available for you.

The U.K. Guardian runs a headline

The new anorexics: big increase in eating disorders among women over 30

• Anorexia and bulimia a disease of adulthood in past five years
• Psychiatrists blame pressures of modern life for change

Here's a quote that may be particularly meaningful to you.

Psychiatrists are seeing more patients who have become seriously ill with either of the crippling conditions for the first time in their 30s, 40s, 50s and occasionally 60s. In many cases, the illness has been triggered by a relationship breaking down, unemployment, the menopause, losing a parent, or seeing children leave home.

You live your life as well as you can.  You draw on the resources of your genetic coding, your biology, and your physcial, mental and emotional environment to develop the best way you can in order to cope with your challenges and progress toward your dreams. So what happens when tragic but all too human life experiences trigger an eating disorder?

empty_book_barretr_BookYour experience is like turning the page of a book of instructions during a critical moment only to find only blank pages. You move to draw on something within you to cope with your situation and find nothing there. 

It's a terrible feeling, like going into some kind of emotional free fall where you will reach for what works to restore a sense of equilibrium.  Sometimes what you reach for is an eating disorder.

The healing question becomes, how do you fill in those blank pages?  What you learned in the past did not equip you to cope with the challenges of this present.  If, for example, you develop an eating disorder in your 50's, you received your teachings from your family, school, community and the political climate of the day in the 1960's and earlier.  You were prepared for the challenges envisioned from there, and the challenges you actually face in 2010 my be quite different and more complex.

Now, the latest research in the neurosciences is showing us that our human brain continually evolves throughout our lives.  Stimulation from new learning, relationships, mindfulness practices contribute to our brain development.  It may be that when we fall into an eating disorder to save ourselves from helplessness and anguish we have fallen into the empty pages of our brain where we haven't developed to meet the complexities of 2010.

Healing, then, involves providing yourself with nourishment in a way that develops your brain as well as your mind and spirit. This process strengthens you in new ways so you can put aside the eating disorder.  You can once again meet your challenges with your own inner resources. The good news is that this is possible.

Your brain retains its ability to evolve regardless of your age.  If you are an adult suffering with an eating disorder you are getting a signal that more development is needed --- and you can get it. 

Working with a mindful psychotherapist, learning mindfulness practices, being in nourishing relationships as well as developing compassion and appreciation for your personal situation are all part of your healing path.

See Dan Siegel's lecture on the developing brain







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