Is time really a healer?

Isn’t this the advice we get -and give- when nothing’s left to say? Isn’t it the vaguest, yet most irrefutable argument for someone who is devastated? And here comes my question: Is time a healer then?

The first answer that comes to mind is yes. Well, not really.

watches-1204696_960_720When someone has to face a difficult experience, the emotional impact can be tremendous. You can’t just wait to overcome the grief, sadness, anxiety, pain or any other negative feeling which arises from a traumatic situation. If you just expect it to heal itself, you are more likely to end up with unresolved, emotional baggage carried with you till it finds a future experience/excuse to reappear.

Most people don’t feel like facing a tough situation the moment it occurs. Who would blame them? Who would have the power to go through the death of a person for example, while they are in grief, struggling to cope with the demands everyday life? Only a few. There are loads of those people who repress their emotions, hoping time will make the trauma less painful. The result? They end up at the same point they started: Pain. This causes more frustration since they find their unpleasant emotions “unreasonable to persist after all this time”. This is when they realize how time failed to work for them. Actually, this realization -that time isn’t a healer- is often what motivates most of them to act towards overcoming emotional baggage. Unfortunately, in some people it takes longer to realize it, since their frustration of time’s non-healing power causes more emotional suppression out of fear and denial in facing their problem. Nevertheless, sooner or later, sufferers who have kept themselves busy (=suppressed their feelings) letting “time do its job” will eventually find their emotional obstacle standing in their way.

So, how is time a healer?

Time can be a healer. And not just a healer, but a great healer. In reality, it’s not time that heals an emotional difficulty, but rather how you use time. You are the great healer. What counts is the period between the traumatic experience and the actual healing, the healing time, let’s say, and your attitude towards it. Time doesn’t count; it is just empty numbers passing. It can’t take your pain away, because it doesn’t have power to do anything. The passing of time can help only in the sense of taking some temporal distance from the event, which will prepare and facilitate the healing process.

This process should consist of small steps that aim towards healing, which should be frequently assessed by the individual through self-questioning: What have I gained? How far have I moved since the painful event? What have I changed in my life after the event? What meaning can I draw out of it? How do I feel now? How do I feel about myself and the event? The key is to embrace your feelings and be in touch with them. Understanding what, how and why is a major healer. By healer, I don’t mean that your recovery will be all rainbows and daffodils. Revisiting painful events is far from pleasant. So, it’s okay to take your time and small breaks within your healing time. You need some distance from your traumatic experience. Basically, you can do everything you want that focuses on yourself and makes you feel better. You’ve passed through a lot. However, if the “do whatever makes you feel better” is suppressing the emotional difficulty, you just numb the pain and hinder its healing, which builds up more emotional burden inside you. You don’t want this. You don’t need this.

You can’t reverse the past; you focus on present. You can’t forget; you let go. You can’t really erase the pain; you weaken its power over you.

It’s not “time is a healer” but rather “use this time for your healing“.  Your attempt, your triumph. Not time’s, not anyone else’s. The only certain thing is that only positive things will come out of this in the end.



Myths Debunked: Written on the body (Part 1)

We all have heard a lot of falsehood about eating disorders. Of course, this happens with most mental illnesses causing more confusion and prejudice. All these misconceptions make those with an eating disorder choose secrecy and suffering instead of seeking help. So, I decided to start debunking  those ridiculous, absurd myths one by one. Here’s the first one.

Written on the body

Probably the most widespread myth about eating disorders. Here’s the stereotypical way of thinking: Anorexia means underweight; Binge eating disorder (BED), overweight; Bulimia, average or slightly above. Alright, this thought of course has a logical basis behind it. However, it doesn’t mirror the reality of eating disorders.

The reality of eating disorders is far from simple and not all people fall into a clear cut, fixed category. For instance, a great deal of people have been diagnosed with OSFED (Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder) since they do not meet all the criteria of a disorder or can be a mish mash of characteristics from the three widely known eating disorders. Basically, you can meet an anorexic, overweight person, an underweight person with BED and a person with totally healthy body weight who also suffers from an eating disorder.

So, it’s a disorder, not a tattoo.

Unlike a tattoo, an eating disorder  a. is not a choice and b. can be developed without any visible symptom. Guess what! You can’t really diagnose an eating disorder by looking at a person’s weight Why? Because mental illnesses differ from other illnesses of our body. Unfortunately, this is the reason why recovery is even harder.

So, once again, do not stereotype! Yes, I know. They’ve told you before you just never thought of actually doing it. And I’m quite serious to that because if you’ve doubted about a person having an eating disorder, they have doubted and underestimated the seriousness and the extent of their own disorder 1000 times already. Who would like to admit that they have phobia and anxiety over food? That all they think about is caloric intake and restriction? It even sounds pathetic to themselves crying over a pizza. It can take years to admit it even to themselves. They’ve spent hours and hours thinking if they are “sick enough”. Well, take a moment and ask yourself:

If there was a bruise caused by your eating disorder, how abused would your body be?

As a person who had suffered from an eating disorder, the answer is “a lot”. The sad thing is that only in that case people would be aware of the actual danger. And by saying “people” I mean everyone -including those who suffer.  That’s because mental illnesses are neglected and not considered to be deathly or “that deathly” compared to the more noticeable body diseases. Imagine what happens in the case of an eating disorder which is frequently not even regarded as a mental illness. More secrecy, more suffering. In fact, in most of the cases, an eating disorder is a symptom of an unresolved, underlying psychological problem. Personally, I found the stigmatization of eating disorders and mental illnesses in general repulsive. Humanity has proved itself that it doesn’t need visible and tangible evidence to believe in something. In 2016, doubting about an eating disorder -something you can’t see but is scientifically supported- is an issue itself. But, that’s another issue.