Thank you for being here.
First of all: congratulations! I remember the post you sent here about your desire to self harm again. So right now, I’m very glad to know that you didn’t relapse. I hope you’re proud of you for this. You’re strong.
There are many ways to self harm other than cutting and you point out something really interesting. Most of the time, it concerns ways to cope with strong emotions. Even something that could seem positive at first. It’s a personal point of view but I think anything can be turned into a way to self-harm. For example: exercising or working too much. Being healthy or productive is often valued, but not if it affects your health. I guess for those kind of thing, it’s mostly a matter of balance that you have to build progressively because excess leads to harmful behaviors. Everything is in the “too much” or “not enough” part.
I had eating disorders for too many years and I consider myself as being still vulnerable because of this. And I found that the most difficult thing was the fact that you can’t suppress food from your life: you have to learn to live with it. When you cut yourself, you add something new to your life, something you don’t need to live. Which is a bit different.
This fear to eat in front of others and this tendency to have a lot of restrictions can be improved. And the fact that you’re aware of the situation is really important. Maybe you can try, at first, to identify which food makes you feel more nervous, so you can try to add a bit of it in your meals. For example: chocolate stresses you. Then try to add just a bit of chocolate at the end of your dinner. Even if it’s just a little. When you fear food and, by extension, when you have anxiety, to expose yourself to what stresses you is really important. It’s hard. But if you avoid systematically what scares you, you’ll let your fears grow and, over time, take control of your decisions. It’s a kind of desensitization that needs to be done really progressively and every victory is important. You can do this!
Also, an other thing that helped me sometimes was to really take the time to cook. It helps you to “feel” (see/smell then taste) what you eat. Mindfullness can be really important when you eat. To give yourself enough time during your meals so you don’t skip it and you can put some rituality in it. Don’t hesitate to be creative, to try new things, to compose some colorful meals! The idea is to participate actively to what you’re gonna eat. Then put on some relaxing music or podcasts to make this moment less stressful. While you eat, you can try to focus on what tastes you can identify. How can you qualify it? Is it pleasant or not? What could you add or change to make it even better the next time? (…)
Just some examples to say that you can add simple things to make the moments you eat more comfortable and enjoyable.
I’m glad to hear that you’re in a transition between two therapists. I hope the next one will be helpful and supportive. It can be hard, even for profesionnals, to understand eating disorders or, at least, struggles/fears related with food. But the way you described it here makes the situation perfectly understandable and you’re already really self-aware. Hopefully this therapy can help you to work on the motivations behind this and find healthier ways to cope.