Martin of Leangains clued me into this new paper, entitled Loneliness May be Contagious. It really got my wheels spinning. For a short summary:

The results indicate that lonely people tend to move to the peripheries of social networks. But first, lonely people transmit their feeling of isolation to friends and neighbors.

Feeling lonely doesn’t mean you have no connections, Cacioppo says. It only means those connections aren’t satisfying enough. Loneliness can start as a sense that the world is hostile, which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“Loneliness causes people to be alert for social threats,” Cacioppo says. “You engage in more self-protective behavior, which is paradoxically self-defeating.” Lonely people can become standoffish and eventually withdraw from their social networks, leaving their former friends less well-connected and more likely to mistrust the world themselves.

Now let’s relate this to eating disorders. When you begin ‘down the road’ of an eating disorder many, many things occur. For one, you become self aware of everything around you. You’re self conscious. You lost in yourself to the point you cannot be part of society or interact with it and its people to any extent at all. As your road journeys on, you lose weight, you control more and more of you life and develop this unstoppable control bubble. Everything, every thought and action are based on YOU and yourself. Everything becomes a threat to you. You control more and more, restrict more and more for control, stress relief and what you THINK is a ‘self protective behavior’ because think about it, the ‘better’ you were at anorexia, the less stress and mental turmoil you had. But, the more stress you pushed away, the further and further you got from society and the more focused you became on YOU, your mind and that grasp of control.

As the article states, this is self defeating. Think back to when it all went wrong, when you initially started that road to anorexia. There was a point, a comment; SOMETHING environmentally and externally triggered your rebellious don’t-look-back warped transformation into anorexia. For me, post freshmen semester in college I had been introduced to alcohol, cafeteria food, processed food, and convenience food–everything I was never exposed to, to any extent growing up. I didn’t drink in high school; there was no time I competed in cheerleading and cheered for sports while maintaining the honor roll at a blue ribbon school. I came home for break and comments turned into jokes about my freshmen weight I had put on in record time. None of my clothes fit, but I never consciously thought or worried about it. However, from co-workers, to high school friends to my own family, I had become the ideal freshmen fatty. From there I was reminded of something I heard in passing as a high schooler… ‘There was no future for a fat cheerleader.”

THIS, this time period is when I felt withdrawn, lonely, hopeless and everything this article encompasses. That ‘switch’ in my head went off and that was it. I had a tough ass ‘ill show you attitude’ and I was not going to change it. Lose weight, and lose weight I would. No one could stop me. I was so lost and lonely. Thing is, I was not willing to look back, to slow down or to allow anyone into my life at this time. Full focus was on me, my weight and controlling it. my diet turned into an obsession. My obsessions turned into food restrictions, counting ENDLESS counting and tallying, workout fascination, social withdrawal, depression, anxiety and worry. There’s a lot more obviously. Nothing about my was secure- not my thoughts my self worth or anybody who was in my life. Everything and everyone became a threat to my own LONLINESS.

 

Think back to when that ‘switch’ went off for you. Were you lonely? How has loneliness impacted your eating disorder?

The mind is mysterious…

 It is hard, really hard to accept you hurt, and your really THAT selfish and lonely. Really hard….again, this is about acceptance.

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