Anorexia and being Catholic


#1

Hello all,
My sister has suffered from anorexia for over three years now. We had a very difficult childhood, and we have both handled it in different ways. How do I support her? Is anorexia a choice? I find it hard to call this thing a “disease”. It is sad to see her hate herself so much, with so many people who truly love and support her. She has good in-laws, a great pastor, counseling, medicaiton, ect. and she’s still not getting better. During her most recent hospitalization, I told her how much I love her, but I do not support her decision to do this to herself. She got very upset and told me that this is not in her control. What do I do? Am I misguided? She has been thorough so much counselling, what else does she need? The last thing she wants me to do is “preach”. Please, any advice would be appreciated.


#2

she is not in control

i suffered from eating disorder all my life (constant binging follwed by constant absence of eating) i was not in control. she needs help. it is not someting you just have will power to over come

for me 10 years in a 12 step program, attending many healing masses, be prayed over by a priest from India that has a gift of healing prayer, and learning to surrender my will over to Christ every day, have helped me overcome the disease and yes it is a disease. you can’t understand because you haven’t expereienced it. don’t enable her though. she will not experience help until she seeks it

God bless


#3

If she is already getting professional help, I would concentrate my efforts in prayer. Have masses said for her and keep her in your Rosary intentions. Send her a healing Mass card. Is she Catholic? It would be harder for her to hate herself if she went to Mass regularly and realized how much God loves her–so much so that He died for her and offers His Body and Blood for her at Mass.


#4

yes, she’s Catholic. I do pray for her very much. All this time I have tried my best not to be preachy to her, and to just love her. It is hard to watch her continue in this path, and I feel so helpless. She has 2 kids and a husband that suffer too. I will tell her that I support her recovery, and that she is in my prayers.


#5

Have you asked for the annointing of the sick for her? Anorexia can be life threatening. As your sister is Catholic, this sacrament may be appropriate for her.


#6

Your sister is definitely not in control in the way we all think of being in control! The best you can do besides prayers and Masses being offered up is to ask her counsilor what you can do to help your sister.

BTW, going to Mass is and knowing that God loved us so much He sent His son to die for us will not help. Anorexia and severe (clinical) depression go hand in hand, your sister needs to continue with her therapy and continue to find a possible drug solution.

Brenda V.


#7

You couldn’t be farther from the truth. :nope:


#8

[quote=CatholicSam]You couldn’t be farther from the truth. :nope:
[/quote]

I think that was a typo CatholicSam!


#9

[quote=smartblkchick]I think that was a typo CatholicSam!
[/quote]

I hope so! Or, come to think of it, maybe she was trying to say that just believing in God will not miraculously cure someone of anorexia (although nothing is impossible for God!)? But going to Mass and having faith in God always helps a person, whether we can see the good coming from it or not. Padre Pio said that every time someone looks at a consecrated Host, his or her position in Heaven is eternally elevated. And that’s just LOOKING at it, never mind actually receiving it. I hope no one thinks that anorexia is bigger and more powerful than the graces one receives at Mass.


#10

[quote=CatholicSam]You couldn’t be farther from the truth. :nope:
[/quote]

Actually, I have been there and have attended Mass and it didn’t help. It actually made me feel much worse about myself, how did I deserve for Jesus to do this for me? Have you ever suffered from depression? Not just “the blues”? It is awful and I will tell you that it was the fear of hell that stopped me from committing suicide, not knowing that Jesus loved me so much he died for me. It is this knowledge now that helps stave away the deepest, darkest depression (and knowing that some of it was caused by food sensitivities!) I even attended special “healing” Masses during this time in an effort to feel better and they didn’t help. There is much more to anorexia and depression than many even understand. I have also come to the conclusion that some depression is my cross to bear and (this will sound weird) I am better for accepting this - even when all I want to do is cry and stay in bed and not go out of the house!

I would encourage anyone in this state to continue to go to Mass though as there are graces to be recieved just by being there.

I hope I explained myself better on this. I just remember the times when I had people who were well meaning tell me things like “just buck up”, “pull yourself up by the bootstraps”, “smile, just the act of smiling will make you feel better” and “go to Mass, God loves you and will make you better” (yes, I had some tell me this too). When none of this worked I would fall even deeper into the depression because then there must be something wrong with my character :slight_smile:

Brenda V.


#11

i think what you mean is that going to mass and not doing anything else will not help and i believe you are right there, speaking from experience. i needed to continue going to mass, but i also needed support groups and healing prayer


#12

Brenda V, thank you for explaining what you meant. I have been very blessed to have different crosses, because I cannot imagine what that kind of depression is like. What you are doing is the BEST thing that you can do! I am so happy for you that you offer up your suffering, because I have known many people who are depressed and do not realize how much good can be done with their suffering. And if someone avoids sin due to the fear of Hell, that is perfectly OK with God :slight_smile:


#13

Hi, I agree with SpaceCadet. I have suffered with anorexia, bulimia, over-exercising and compulsive overeating since age 6 or 7 and I am now 31. Joining a 12-step group, attending church regularly and going to several therapists have worked wonders. Having a loving husband and supportive friends have also helped. However, even in “recovery” my thoughts still focus on eating everything in sight or not eating anything at all, depending on the situation. Your sister is most likely not in control of her thoughts, and it is VERY difficult to follow a plan of action as prescribed (food plan, journaling, limiting exercise, medications that might be ordered, etc.), especially at first. Just be supportive without being overbearing. For example, I generally eat more healthily if I can plan meals myself or if I take part in the process. However, if food is shoved at me or if I’m bombarded with “holiday goodies,” I can easily shut down or want to run away. Encourage your sister to follow whatever food plan she follows. Encourage her to go to her therapist. Pray for her. Like I said, I have been in this battle for many years. In my case, things got better when I surrendered my disease to God through a 12-step program. I let Him call the shots now, and as soon as the food voices start telling me to eat or not eat, I talk about it. Generally, there are deep feelings I don’t want to feel under the surface. If I talk about the issues, the food matters less.

Take care,
Maria


#14

Thanks Maria, I will do that. What Brenda said is true for my sister too. She does her Sunday “duty” but that’s about it. She shared with me that she feels as though it were impossible for God to love her, and that He looks at her more as a Just Judge than as a Merciful Father. She cannot stand me saying that Jesus loves her, and so I try to avoid religion unless I know for certain that what I say will benefit her. I hate that feeling of being so helpless. Please pray for her, and pray for all of us, that we may be able to reach her somehow.


#15

Several people have mentioned joining a 12-step program. Is anorexia an addiction?


#16

[quote=CatholicSam]Several people have mentioned joining a 12-step program. Is anorexia an addiction?
[/quote]

My personal response would be, “It is not an addiction, but it is a disease, just like diabetes.” If it helps, check out this website:

oa.org/twelve_steps.html

Best,

Maria


#17

Well, isn’t overeating essentially a food addiction (when it becomes a way of life–not just an occaisional thing)?


#18

Yes, I don’t believe that it is a disease either. You don’t “catch” it. It is the result of a trauma. That’s why it’s so hard for me to support her sometimes. It is an addiction, and until she realizes that, she will never get better. Calling it a disease takes the blame off of oneself. Right now, the blame is falling on her pastor, parents, counselors, ect. but not herself. I know that in a sense this illness is out of her control, but in another way, I still think that she is in control of it. For example, when her ED started a few years ago, she was bulimic. But as it was doing much damage to her stomach and esophogus, she simply switched to being ana. How is that possible if it’s a disease that you can’t control?


#19

It makes sense in my head that there would be varying degrees of anorexia. Feel free to correct me if I’m mistaken, but someone who has been anorexic for many years has made anorexia a part of who they are. They identify themselves as “anorexic,” and without that label, they’re left feeling that they have no identity. These poor souls spend all or almost all their energy thinking about how to further their disease, how to get away with it at doctor’s visits, how to add a few pounds when being weighed, how to hide how little they’re eating from friends and family, how to deal with hunger pains and mental fuzziness, etc. I would imagine that someone who is a brand new anorexic would have some control over their behavior. How does one go from being healthy and in control of their eating to snap having no control? There logically *must * be a continuum of loss of control, even if it is a very quick progression.


#20

[quote=spacecadet]she is not in control

i suffered from eating disorder all my life (constant binging follwed by constant absence of eating) i was not in control. she needs help. it is not someting you just have will power to over come

for me 10 years in a 12 step program, attending many healing masses, be prayed over by a priest from India that has a gift of healing prayer, and learning to surrender my will over to Christ every day, have helped me overcome the disease and yes it is a disease. you can’t understand because you haven’t expereienced it. don’t enable her though. she will not experience help until she seeks it

God bless
[/quote]

DITTO


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