Isolation and eating disorders go together for many reasons. Often people find themselves avoiding situations where food will be involved because they are either afraid of overeating or they don’t want deal with the questions or the looks if they are restricting. People also find that they begin pushing away friends, family, and partners in order to spend more time with their ED behaviors. Some women or men prefer to spend the night alone or away from their boyfriend or girlfriend in order to spend the night bingeing. Some will prioritize gym time at the expense of loved ones. Many bow out of social obligations because they are not comfortable with their bodies and are afraid that they will be judged.
Reaching out is a huge part of recovery. This doesn’t necessarily mean going to an eating disorder recovery group or a support group or 12 step group, although these things can be very important for recovery. This can be as simple as reaching out to friends, parents, family members or even people who you don’t know very well, who you can just be social with. Being out in the world rather than being alone with your disorder is one of the great ways to find recovery. Connection with people – even when you feel imperfect, even when you’d rather be at home bingeing or running on the treadmill or avoiding food and people- can help you heal. We are interdependent beings. You don’t even have to talk about your feelings or what you’re going through, just being with people who you enjoy, just having contact with others and getting out of the isolation trap is a giant step toward freedom from your addiction.
Next time you have the urge to isolate, try to reach out and spend some time with a friend, or a family member, or even a neighbor or someone you don’t know very well. You can even do volunteer work at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter, or a community garden. Anything that gets you out and close to other humans can be healing.