May 15, 2014

Midlife Eating Disorders Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 6:40 pm by kellyfdennis

The diagnosis of midlife eating disorders is increasing. When we think of the term Eating Disorder, some think of a white, middle class adolescent girl. The reality is that eating disorders are a mental illness that can affect anyone across any culture, race or socioeconomic background. Today’s blog post is from a guest blogger who underwent bariatric surgery and developed a dangerous over restrictive style of eating. Recent literature suggests that about 1.5% of bariatric patients will experience this phenomenon, some meeting the full clinical criteria for Anorexia Nervosa. This individual shares her journey through a midlife eating disorder. Perhaps her words will speak to some of you. She writes:

“The journey through an eating disorder is an evolving process of twists and turns leading to the ultimate goal of recovery. I have found as a woman in her forties the process is a lonely journey. It is lonely in the respect that those in my immediate circle aren’t confronted with food in the same fashion as someone struggling with an eating disorder. Nor are they in a place of acknowledgement that food has an important role/control of their life.

I would like to credit my decision to undergo gastric bypass surgery four years ago as the beginning of my eating disorder; when in reality bariatric surgery was yet another twist in the journey. In fact, the journey began as far back in my early childhood that I can recall. From my earliest recollection, food was used as a bribe for desired behaviors from my parents. It was used as an emotional blanket to deal with the trauma of an abusive childhood. Food became my catalyst to deal with the full gamut of emotions, from happy to sad and all in between.

As a result, my relationship with food was never healthy. Food was my crutch not a means to provide energy to my body. Another result from such an unhealthy relationship was my ever fluctuating weight, albeit, I was always on the heavier side. If I had been successful in losing weight it would be a short-lived success as I would inevitably regain the weight.

Fast forward to adulthood, my relationship with food remained emotionally and physically life threatening. Reaching the staggering high of 350 pounds after the birth of my third child. I was a rather active busy mom living my life through the trials and tribulations as an obese mother. It was difficult accomplishing even the simplest of tasks such as tying my toddler’s shoes. I had heard about bariatric surgery and contemplated the process many times as an adult. I was leery about the mortality rate that was associated with the surgery in its early days. As bariatric surgery was becoming more mainstream and less frightening, I began investigating the possibility. Even though there is an inherent risk with any surgery, I was satisfied that the risk no longer out-weighed the benefits. I had reached the stage of fear that my weight would end my life prematurely. I needed to do something radical to ensure that I would be alive for my supportive husband and three young daughters.

So I began the bariatric process. It started with an on-line survey to be invited to the first informational seminar. I went to the first session alone. It was very upbeat and made one hopeful. The comprehensive team of dietitians and nurses accompanied the surgeon as the program was explained. There was friendliness. There was a confidence amongst the team that wooed. The following nine months was laden with blood work, cardiology approval, bariatric nutrition classes, an appointment with a psychologist, a sleep apnea work up, the required minimum of ten pounds lost and on-going visits with the bariatric team. I have since come to realize that there was one additional component that was missing for anyone to be truly successful in the bariatric process. It is my opinion that one should undergo intensive psychotherapy pre-surgery to prepare you for all that will come post-surgery.  At the end of the insurance imposed mandated nine month waiting period, I underwent my transformation with bariatric surgery.

I was a text book successful bariatric patient. I had actually lost eighty pounds pre-surgery and began working out day one of my journey. My then personal trainer, now good friend, and I often recall that it was a success to stay on the elliptical exercise machine for three minutes. Within in the first year of my bariatric surgery, I had lost an additional 100 pounds. I spent my days and nights consumed with the need to exercise and to follow the bariatric diet near flawlessly. My obsession to become healthy very soon became unhealthy.”

stefdennis

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