I stared discussing this in another thread and how it applied to me, and I am now curious to hear from others on this matter. I'm assuming these changes subside in recovery- when weight and/or nutrition is restored.
During the course of your eating disorder, did you experience changes in your personality? E.g. Increased irritability, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, depression, uncharactersitic social withdrawal (includes psychological changes).
What were they?
Thanks for your input in advance :-)
Yes to all but the anti-social thing. I've never been an extrovert though. During my ED I was horribly cranky. The slightest things would set me off (not necessarily into angry rages but breakdowns and extreme frustration). Strange things would bother me too (and still do - but only slightly) like hearing someone else eating. If a family member was eating in the room with me, I'd have to turn on the tv or something to dround out the noise. It was like I just couldn't take it.
If you are just beginning recovery, I will warn you that (at least for me) it got worse before it got better. It was like every little thing that had bothered me (like others eating) suddenly bothered me again (some things I had gotten over). Last summer when I began recovery I was an absolute emotional wreck. However, I can say in complete honesty that since I have fought through it and gained ~25 lbs (Yay! :D), I am doing so, so, soooo much better. Stuff doesn't set me off like it had. I'm not obsessive like I once was (the wreck my apartment is at the moment is testament to that. haha). So please, if you find it is hard during recovery, don't give up. For me it got worse first, but then it got sooo much better.
I was a completely different person..
I was very socially withdrawn
Engaged in obsessive compulsive rituals.
Everything was a number, weight, food, time... I ticked off days, went to bed early so I could wait for the next day to start. I didn't care about much else, so I think to other people I also became very boring.
I was sullen with people, and generally depressive and miserable.
I also felt extremely pretentious and 'precious'. I felt as if I was better than others, and so I punished them by being grumpy and sullen if they tried to make me do things I didn't want, and played up my 'china doll' physique to everyone.. it was almost like I was flirting with the world, saying 'look at how perfect I look, look how perfect you are not.'
I felt super-human, and sub-human at the same time.
I never hated myself though, I was always weirdly proud of myself overall.. just frustrated with myself every time I 'failed' as my desire to eat fought my desire to starve.
^ Whoa, triple post!
Thanks for the replies so far, your input is appreciated :-)
Haha, no worries :-)
Have you read about The Minnesota Starvation Study? A group of healthy men were starved for I think 6 months until they had lost a significant amount of their body mass. They were studied during starvation and refeeding. The results are absolutely fascinating. Many of the classic anorexia psychological symptoms are due to starvation, not just the mental disorder.
All of the psychological changes you mention were found to occur and lingered up to 6 months - 1 year after weight restoration. All the men completely recovered their normal mental functioning in the medium to long term however so don't panic!
As for my own experience, I experience both negative psyhological effects (tend toward low mood, anxiety, food/exercise/counting obsession) and 'positive' ones (euphoria, strong sense of achievement, sense of superiority). I have periods of liking my physique and hating it during ED and recovery.
When I'm suffering with ED my thoughts/emotions become very split and ambivalent. Whereas when I am recovered and clear of ED my thoughts are much more coherent and the anxiety and obsession isn't there.
yes to all of the above. they have totally subsided in recovery. the only thing left for me is sometimes not liking my body or thinking im "fat".
i was antisocial, now i hangout with friends a ll the time
i was embarassed and nervous, now i go on dates
i was depressed, now i love life
i was irritable, now im patient
i had OCD revolving around clenliness and food preparation, now i dont freak out and clean all of my dishes insanely right after using them
The rats thing rings a bell, I think I might have studied that in college, but that was a while ago :)
I don't know whether it is the calorie restriction or the weight loss which triggers the psychological effects. Given that it is most likely a biological response to famine, it is most likely the calorie restriction.
I have read a bit on the biological theory of anorexia which is supported by some findings in the chemical brain response to starvation in anorexia patients. The theory is that it is the response to starvation of a small proportion of a population (approx. 0.5-1.0%). The majority of the population responds to starvation by displaying low mood and inactivity so they conserve energy and basically wait out the famine. A very small proportion has a completely different response, with a marked difference in the response of the leptin system, the behaviour response to starvation is to eat even less than is available, to obsess about food, finding food and feeding others and to become very active. Theory has it that this small group of people will find food / plant food and look after the rest of the populous for the duration of a famine. However they are at a much higher risk of ill health and death from famine. So their behaviours are certainly maladaptive for the inidvidual but not necessarily for the population.
It's only one theory but I thought it was rather interesting.
Just as likely is that starvation is a coping mechanism and highly addictive to those genetically predisposed.
I have had intermittant ED since I was 12, I'm now 30. Every relapse has been precipitated by some sort of weightloss. When I was 12, I avoided the school dinner hall due to bullying and this kick started anorexia which became a coping mechanism and obsession in itself. Other times it has come on due to dancing for many hours per week with no time to eat a proper meal and no appetite. A stomach bug. Stress induced loss of appetite ...
This relapse started last May with a combination of ongoing interpersonal conflict, stress and a wedding dress diet!
Sorry for the essay!!
Increased irritability, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, depression, uncharactersitic social withdrawal (includes psychological changes).
Beginning of my ED when the weightloss started I was overjoyed. I was extremely OCD but the came long before the ED but the ED definitely intensified it. I was more comfortable being around people now that I looked "better".
Once I dropped below a 100 pounds, depression really kicked in and I became withdrawn. I was irritable towards everyone, didn't speak a word to my father or anyone else really for a solid month. I went two months without laughing once - not exaggerating.
Beginning of recovery was nerve racking but things got better and I fell in love with cycling and weight lifting. I exercised to relieve tension and gain muscle after I gained enough weight. I maintained at 115 for about six months and was very happy with my recovered body and could be active again.
Now here's where things went down hill. After those six months of maintenance I have recently gained an addition 30 pounds. Now I don't leave my room except for class, won't talk to anyone, wear only sweats, cut more than ever, and am considering dropping out of college because I'm too miserable to focus on anything but how fat I think I am. I have been very suicidal for the past few months since this addition weight gain to a BMI of about 23. My pre-ED HW was 120 and now I'm 140 and don't want to live anymore and am drowning in depression. I don't even want to get better anymore, I just want it all to stop. The depression of the lowest point in my ED is nothing compared to how I feel now. If not for breaking my dad's heart I wouldn't be here anymore.
... And When I say that, I actually mean when it's day light. :)
A bit of weight gain is not worth this- you've fought so hard and by god you are not going to let all that hard work go down the drain, alright? I know it's difficult and sometimes I skip parties and stuff cause I jut feel fat, BUT DON'T. Following that pattern ends up with me binging and feeling alienated and worse- It's just reverting back to old activities, and with old patterns comes old EDs, and we are not letting that happen! Xx
to be honest, the depression, the anxiety, everything got amplified as i gained to a healthy weight. i was depressed and developed anorexia because of it but once i became underweight, all the feelings disappeared.
restricting was my way out. some people do drugs, some drink, i starved. that was and still is how i deal with stress. until binging came into the equation... there's only so much a body can take :/
I became withdrawn and extremely weak within a month of my ED starting back up. I just wanted to be alone. This was extremely weird for me, someone who hated being alone. I'm usually quiet, but like to be around people and let them talk and interact around me. With ED, I just wanted to be alone. Being around friends was a chore. Planning anything was torture. Making decisions was next to impossible. Communicating effectively with people was hard. I had bi-polar-ish times. I tend toward depression, and that got worse, but sometimes I would feel invincible. I'm naturally timid (with a stubborn steak though, haha), but when I got in one of those moods, I would say almost anything I felt like to anyone I wanted. I'm glad I didn't have the chance to do anything really unwise, because I honestly don't think I had the discretion at those times to keep myself from it. Of course, when I was depressed, I felt like I couldn't do anything at all.
@ pocono12 - Don't give up! Keep up your great work. Keep eating - I think that weight will drop soon. Besides, 140 isn't bad! Your body has very likely changed since before your ED, so it won't go back to how it was before, depending on how old you are. I'm almost 21, and I think I'm seeing some changes as I'm gaining compared to what I looked like at this weight a year ago.