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Skills and Strategies—the pros and cons (Having an ED vs Giving it up)

Posted Apr 18 2009 12:00am
One skill that has really helped me regain perspective on my eating disorder, and in fact all my destructive coping strategies, has been to look at the pros and cons of the behaviour. In DBT (dialectical behavioural therapy) we are taught to look at both the pros and cons of continuing a behaviour and the pros and cons of stopping/giving up the behaviour.
And it is really useful to look at both because you can see:
  • What you feel you gain from having an eating disorder (however irrational the ideas may be)
  • What you eating disorder has 'cost' - physically, emotionally, socially, financially etc.
  • What you can gain from giving up the eating disorder
  • What is holding you back from recovering.
So I'd like to share with you my own ED pros and cons.
Pros - Having an ED

  • feel's safe
  • numbs negative thoughts and feelings
  • sense of control
  • sense of purpose
  • lowers people's expectation of me
  • replaces the "need" for self-harm
  • Distracts me from the painful memories
  • Makes me unattractive to others and therefore prevents a romantic relationship
  • Online community - feel "connected"
  • Gives me an identity - its who I am
  • Able to hide from the "real world"
Cons - Having an ED
  • I am one-minded
  • Food/Weight/Exercise obsessed
  • Unable to work or study
  • Medical/ Health issues


    • vitamin deficiencies
    • cardiac problems
    • fainting/blackout
    • muscle weakness
    • stomach cramps
    • gastro problems
    • loss of sensation in fingers and toes
    • reflux
    • body temp issues
    • nausea
    • tremour

  • Psychological issues


    • anxiety
    • depression
    • paranoia
    • obssession
    • highly irratible
    • labile moods
    • panic
    • no focus
    • no concentration
    • increase suicidal ideation

  • Criminal activity
  • "Pity looks" from friends/family
  • Isolated from friends/family
  • Financial costs
Pros - Giving up my ED

  • Alleviation of psychological/medical issues
  • Increase sense of self-esteem
  • Becoming a "whole" person again
  • The chance to grow and learn new things
  • To "get a life"
  • Show others that I have strength
  • Less stress
  • Be able to help others
Cons - Giving up my ED

  • Painful
  • Its habitual
  • Scary new territory
  • Increased responsibility
  • Hard work
  • Dealing with painful memories
  • Its confusing
  • Feel like I wont "need" Kirsten/Dr C and I'm not ready to leave therapy
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