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Eating disorders and personalities

Discussion in 'Mental Health Disorders' started by Growing Pains, Apr 21, 2014.

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  1. Growing Pains

    Growing Pains Well-Known Member

    I'm really not sure where else to go to ask this question. It has been on my mind for some time as I have been working on recovery and attempting to get set up with a new therapist. Excuse me if this is long. I am learning that I am prone to rambling. This question is more for people who have or have recovered from anorexia or atypical anorexia, but of course, all opinions are welcome.

    I am currently between therapists. My last one retired, so I have to be set up with a new one. I'm on a government assisted program, so it all happens on their time. Not mine. Essentially, this means it could be weeks or even months before I get to see someone again. I did have a psychiatrist (pill dispenser), but I stopped seeing him on account of disagreeing with his diagnosis... so failing to see why the meds (for treatment of bipolar) would benefit me. I'm about to get to why I disagree with his diagnosis in a minute.

    My main question is (and I'll bold the questions for those who want to skip all the reading...)

    How badly, exactly, can heavy restriction change your personality? If you have suffered from anorexia, how badly did it change yours?

    I am a psych major, so I do realize that it can change a person's personality on some level. I know that being clingy while restricting and during recovery is common. I know, too, that many people develop major depressive disorder due to lack of adequate nutrition. I, also, know that it can make people temperamental (when you're hungry, you're cranky after all). But my question is... is it common for it to change the person's actual personality.

    I believe this is the case for me. I sought help initially when I was in the early stages of my restrictive eating disorder. The first time I spoke to my psychologist, I was literally in the onset stages. So, he never saw me without the restriction. Nor did my pill dispenser. With no knowledge of who I was, they had to assume that who they saw was who I am. Likewise, with no knowledge of an eating disorder, I'm sure they didn't assume my behavior was due to restriction. While restricting, I became a whole new person. Even my gender identity shifted. (Normally I identify as male, while restricting, my feminine traits seemed to dominate) Some days, I was more mellow than I would be normally. I became more socially anxious than I was. (Just going to the store was terrifying) And I would experience episodes of sheer euphoria which... were very similar to hypomania. I have ups naturally, but looking back now from the perspective of someone in recovery, I don't think they were ever as bad as they got while I was restricting.

    Now, I am slowly beginning to remember who I was, and I'm not sure how to talk to anyone about it. I feel almost like a fraud. Because everything they saw was not me. During my restriction, I desperately wanted to make friends. But I believed something was wrong with me. But I was scared of what I was doing to myself, so I wanted someone around at all times, but I isolated, so there was no one. I avoided people. Now, though, I realize that I never had much interest in socializing beyond the occasional intellectual discussion. I remember that people just didn't... interest me. Not the way dogs and cats and rodents do. I begin to wonder if my neediness then was perceived wrongly. I hate crowds and do avoid crowds. I like my personal space, and I hate noise. Too much noise bothers me. When restricting, I became immune to noise, though and hated crowds because I would wonder if people could see my eating disorder and I wondered what they thought about how I looked. I changed a lot during it all. And it worries me. Because how do I separate myself from the person it made me and the person I am?

    I disagree with my diagnosis. I feel like this changes everything. I just wanted some opinions. Some insight, if you will. Because now that I am recovering... I can look at the past year with the perspective of an outsider. And I would, personally, attribute a lot of the emotions and mood shifts to the eating disorder.

    I will discuss this with my therapist when I'm set up with a new one. Anyway. Thanks for reading.
  2. TheStruggle

    TheStruggle Active Member

    I think it really depends on the person. I, personally, think it really changed me (I technically have EDNOS, but the one most related to anorexia). I began to absolutely love being alone, and I became a lot more irritable. It made me more secretive, and I became a much better liar. I feel like I lie almost all the time now (oops). When I restrict, I can't focus on anything else, and I hate being bothered.

    I feel/felt like a fraud as well. It's hard to figure out how to separate yourself from the person you are and the person your eating disorder made you... but I think it's something along the lines of this: Treasure your time by yourself in order to sort out your own feelings. Don't cut yourself off, obviously, from other people, but also make sure you have alone time. Then, don't be afraid of what others think of you. Just know people care about you, no matter how you portray yourself.
  3. nyanner

    nyanner New Member

    Interesting topic. I find that I'm very sensitive to food/calorie intake. If my calories are below maintenance I usually get a relatively strong episode of "crankyness". This to me is an issue because I often am in a calorie restricted state due to the need to reduce my weight. So in order to maintain good relationships with the people around me I have to try and change my mindset, my personality to subject my bad mood. Also, I believe that certain changes happen in the body which leads to a personality change when one is in a caloric deficit state for a prolonged period of time, the body gets exhausted. As it gets exhausted, we start feeling different effects from it, like tiredness, weakness, but as we still want to live our lives like we did, even while having these handicaps, our brain somehow tries to compensate which can often lead to a certain degree of personality change. I hope this makes sense, this is just my theory.
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