National Eating Disorders Association

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Separating the trauma from the eating disorder

I’ve always seemed to be able to separate out trauma from my eating disorder: probably because it wasn’t food related. I think as well a lot of it happened when I already had an eating disorder so it didn’t impact my recovery...
Can other people do this? Or more generally, how does trauma/ptsd impact on your eating disorder and recovery?
I know it’s a very personal question so no pressure to answer, but it would be very helpful to me if you did!
Thanks, and hope you’re all doing ok. Thinking of you all every day.


My PTSD directly was the cause of my e.d. originally, and now that I'm out of that situation, it's morphed into a coping mechanism for it, instead. A few sessions ago, my therapist and I discovered at least 5 different functions that my e.d. serves, in order to help me cope with my PTSD and other mental disorders. It's frustrating, and at the same time, it makes sense. Eating disorders seldom are about food. For the most part, they are merely coping mechanisms for dealing with other issues. Our brains are complicated and come up with ways to deal with things however they feel are the best way to do it. It stinks, when they choose maladaptive behaviors, and yet, there it is. So, I get it.

Thanks so much for your reply!I really appreciate it

Could you share any strategies you have to combat it ie healthier coping mechanisms? That would be so helpful...
Lots of love x

Coping mechanisms

I'm still struggling, myself, but basically, if you have hobbies, or activities you enjoy doing and are able to do them when you have the e.d. urges, instead, that's always useful and helpful. Of course, if you have friends to whom you can talk about your feelings, that's great, also. Something my e.d. therapist has suggested I do, is to use my sense of humor and my creativity/imagination to try to cope and deal with it. For instance, I can be ridiculously silly when I'm by myself and pretend that inanimate objects are talking to me. I have quite interesting conversations with them:) My therapist thinks I'm a hoot, so she asked if I've ever done that with my various body parts. I hadn't, so she suggested I "talk" to them and see what they have to "say" back to me. It was rather interesting, because my stomach and I really don't like each other; not completely sure why, but some of it has to do with the trauma. It's a work in progress. Another thing I've been employing is self-love - actively finding ways to tell myself that I am a good person, why, what makes me that way, etc. Again, suggested by my therapist. Some things I've used to deal with my trauma, for my various triggers is art and poetry, in response to different topics. I had to be careful there, however, because it could easily make me feel dissociative, and I had to keep trying to stay grounded. Right now, though, my trauma therapist wants me to put a halt on it, because I'm having negative reactions. Just some things I've done. I don't know if this helps or not, but hopefully it gives you some ideas. Hang in there.

That’s great to hear!

It’s fantastic you have such a variety of strategies... I do a lot of art too. And I talk to myself a lot. :) I used to dissociate whilst writing too, but as time passed it improved a lot. Also when I was nutritionally rehabilitated interestingly. Now I don’t dissociate at all...
Thanks for your really interesting replies! Keep going: it sounds like you’re doing incredibly!xx

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