I do know something about having a daughter with anorexia, and I also know that being overwhelmed is optional. It isn’t easy to never feel overwhelmed, but it is possible to feel less overwhelmed, or to feel overwhelmed less often, or to choose another way to feel that is more useful.
When your daughter is anorexic, feeling overwhelmed comes with the territory, or so it seems. You may be overwhelmed by the illness itself, overwhelmed by the responsibility of getting her to eat enough to restore her weight, overwhelmed by her extreme emotional behavior, overwhelmed by the less than clear treatment options, overwhelmed by the decisions about if or when she’ll ever dance again, and overwhelmed by what it all means for you, your daughter, and for the rest of your family.
If you feel overwhelmed, remember that it is just your brain doing what it was designed to do—help you survive. Your brain is good at making you believe you are threatened, even when you aren’t. Don’t let it fool you.
It seems like since these thoughts just happen, that we can’t help but have them, and therefore we can’t help but feel overwhelmed. The very good news is that we can learn to consciously choose different thoughts, and override the ones that are causing us to feel overwhelmed.
By learning to become aware of when our unintentional automatic thoughts kick in, we can become aware of when those thoughts are making us feel overwhelmed. Once we learn how to compassionately observe our thoughts, we can begin to work on replacing our patterned subconscious thoughts with intentional thoughts that will create much more useful feelings for us.
By practicing a new intentional thought that we believe, we can replace our old thought patterns with new beliefs. Instead of staying in overwhelm, we can decide how we want to feel, and then we can choose a thought that creates that feeling for us.
A feeling is just a vibration in the body, so learning to recognize what overwhelm feels like, and realizing that it is possible to just feel the vibration without acting on it, makes it much easier to handle this feeling or any other feeling. Becoming aware of your overwhelm, and understanding that it is optional instead of inevitable, gives you the power to begin to purposely create more useful feelings as you support your daughter’s recovery.