Halloween, Fear, and Embracing Exposure
Never mind the ghosts and the ghouls associated with Halloween, those with eating disorders know only too well what ‘fear’ feels like.
It’s often said, for obvious reasons, that Halloween is a tricky time for those battling their various food and eating demons (no over-play of Halloween references intended!).
After all, in normal circumstances, it can be a seasonal occasion of gatherings which centre on themed treats, and of children knocking at the door for chocolate aplenty.
For many sufferers, therefore, there’s an inevitable period of angst – perhaps because sugary foods are the very ones on that person’s ‘fear food’ list, or maybe an adult suffering a binge-purge disorder is petrified of having treats in the home which they might find triggering.
Arguably, for those who have put those sweets and treats upon the demonised list, this seasonal occasional is in fact exactly the time at which you should be looking to challenge the disorder dialogue, and embrace ‘exposure’.
Many of us, once recovered, can look back and say that yes, indeed we did want that chocolate bar, or the iced cake or the handful of sweets our friend had kindly offered – but our brain was screaming abuse at the very thought we might give in.
The way to deal with this, however, is not to keep listening to the voice, denying ourselves and creating more anxiety about such food groups in the future.
Instead, we should look upon occasions such as Halloween as perfect exposure and immersion opportunities.
These are the times we really should fight hard to grant ourselves the ‘permission’ to do as our hunger is desperately asking us to do.
These are the times where we need to remind ourselves that food, the sharing of it, and the removal of judgment around it, are absolutely critical in ensuring we can be part of a life which is sociable, rewarding and full of joy.
This Halloween, consider the following five tips for helping ensure you ‘talk down’ those fear food thoughts, and embrace a sociable seasonal occasion which keeps you recovery focused.
- Focus Forward. Live Today for the Life You Desire
Ask yourself whether the behaviour you’ll do today, will take you further toward your goal of a happy and successful life, or remove you from it further?
In what ways could you mark Halloween with your friends and family today, which would make it an event worthy of looking back on with happy reflection?
- Expose Yourself
Expose yourself to that which you fear. If you’re petrified of having the sweet treats in your home, and yet know that you’d love to permit yourself, then now’s the time. Have those treats in your home.
Deliberately keeping the cupboards bare of such items will only make you crave them more, potentially binge more, and therefore add to the sense of shame and guilt.
- Share How You’re Feeling
Don’t be afraid or unwilling to express to others how intensely fearful you become around these seasonal occasions. Do let friends or family know what angst it causes you. Give them practical ways in which they can assist you to feel more comfortable.
- Stop Comparing
Comparison is the thief of all joy. Whether it’s comparing what your friend’s body size is when you see them in a Halloween outfit, or comparing how much chocolate your friend has eaten to you – forget it. This illness has a terrible obsession with comparison, and if you ignore it and focus on yourself, you’ll be far happier as a result.
- Embrace Your Inner Child
How would you want your inner child to remember this season? What would you want them to experience? Treat yourself with just as much kindness. Know that sweets and treats and spontaneous activities are exactly what these calendar events are all about. Be kind to yourself.
- Oct 2020