Getting help for eating and body concerns is vital for becoming well and living a full life. The first steps towards getting help are to develop an awareness of the problems and to recognise that help is needed. But for some people it can be hard to recognise that help is needed. Sometimes it can be hard for people to admit even to themselves how bad things are. It can also be challenging to take the next steps to seek professional support. The information in this “I Want and Need Help” page will assist you to work through any difficulties you may be having when thinking about seeking help.
The “Do I Have a Problem” and “Should I Get Help” pages of ROAR are useful to find out the extent of your eating and body concerns and how much they impact your health and wellbeing. If you have not already looked through those pages it might be worthwhile to go to there first. Questions on the “I Need a Report” page will also help you focus specifically on your own situation.
You may have found that thinking about your eating and body concerns made you feel anxious or upset. This is a very normal reaction. It is often the case that people feel distressed when they become more aware of eating and body concerns and how much they impact physical and emotional health, and their enjoyment and involvement with life. Although this might make you question whether to continue on this pathway to reach out and recover, feelings of distress do start to fade when people seek help and take action to make changes to their eating and body concerns
Even if you have decided that you want and need help for your eating and body concerns, it is natural to feel hesitant about seeking help. This is especially the case if you do not know what to expect or if you have had some negative experiences in the past.
People may feel hesitant or nervous about getting help for a number of reasons. Some people feel ashamed or embarrassed about their problems. This can understandably make revealing their problems to another person feel really uncomfortable. People may worry about being judged or labelled as having a mental problem. They may also be worried that others will think there is something wrong with them, or odd about them because of their concerns. Some people also feel as though not being able to take care of their own problems and having to seek help is a personal failing or a sign of weakness.
Take a moment to consider whether any of these reasons might be holding you back from seeking help.
“I THOUGHT I COULD “FIX” THINGS MYSELF IF I JUST GAVE MYSELF A BIT MORE TIME.”
It is normal to feel uncomfortable about revealing your concerns to someone else. This is especially the case with eating and body concerns as people often try very hard to cover them up, or keep them a secret. It is really important along the pathway to recovery that you are able to take on the difficult task of facing these uneasy feelings and tell someone what you are going through. Not only is this a key step in getting the right help, but people often report that it can be a real relief to share their concerns.
“IT WAS COMFORTING TO FINALLY TALK ABOUT IT.”
If you were to seek help for your eating and body concerns, how worried would you be about what the health professional was thinking of you?
It’s really common to be worried about what others think, but health professionals are there to help, not judge. They are also trained to understand eating and body concerns. Professionals who see people with these problems will recognise and understand the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that people with eating and body concerns have.
It’s great that you feel comfortable speaking with health professionals. It really helps to be able to open up and express what’s happening. Health professionals are trained to understand eating and body concerns. Professionals who see people with these problems will recognise and understand the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that people with eating and body concerns have.
Making positive changes to eating and body concerns means reducing dieting and restriction, binge eating and overeating, exercise, and other behaviours used to control weight, shape, and size. It might also mean trying to feel better about your body, without changing how you look, or your weight, shape, or size. Even when people recognise that eating and body concerns are causing a range of problems in their lives - for physical health, emotional wellbeing, relationships and enjoying everyday life – they can still be unsure if they are ready to get help and start making changes.
It is really common to feel unsure about making changes. On the one hand, eating and body concerns cause a lot of problems for health and wellbeing. On the other hand, eating and body concerns can seem to have a purpose and help people feel secure. When people weigh up their reasons to change against concerns about making change, they can feel stuck and unsure.
The idea of change may also seem unfamiliar and uncertain. Although uncertainty may be unsettling, there is no doubt that going into unfamiliar territory will help you to move towards recovery and reduce the impact of eating and body concerns on your life.
Some people also say that they are fearful of making changes. They worry that they will feel out of control – of their eating, their weight, shape, and size, and of their life in general. It is true that seeking treatment for eating and body concerns may involve feeling frightened and having to let go of behaviours that help you to cope and feel okay about yourself. But is it also true that by getting help you will develop other coping strategies. These strategies will boost, rather than cause, problems for your health and wellbeing.
Choosing to seek professional help for eating and body concerns can be a big decision. Even when people feel like they want and need help, they may be put off from getting help if they think they are unable to make the changes they need. In addition, part of them might feel like they should be able to work out their problems on their own. They might also feel like their concerns are not a “real” health problem or deserving of help. These feelings can prevent people from getting the help they need.