Releasing Anger in Eating Disorder Recovery
By Z Zoccolante
This article was first published on HealthyPlace.com.
At some point in your eating disorder recovery, you will need to release anger. Recovery is an interesting process and it can also be tough. When anger comes up, it’s important to know how to handle it so that it doesn’t get stuck in your body and trigger eating disorder patterns (How to Channel Anger Constructively). Take a look at these helpful suggestions to help you release anger as it arises in your eating disorder recovery.
Releasing Anger and Dealing with Depression in Eating Disorder Recovery
When I was in the hospital for my eating disorder I remember a group leader telling us, “Rage is anger turned outwards. Depression in anger turned inwards.”
It makes so much sense, especially for those of us who’ve been both anorexic and bulimic. It’s like being a perfectionist for too long until we’re wound so tightly that we finally explode with rage in the form of external purging (How to Control Your Anger).
Anger is a dangerous emotion because it’s the mask for sadness. When we take off the mask of our anger, usually we find that there’s an ocean of sorrow beneath it. The reason we have masks in the first place is that we feel like they protect us. We often choose the anger because it’s the mask we think protects us from the sadness we don’t want to feel. If you feel deeply angry then sadness is always brewing underneath (Sadness vs. Depression: What’s the Difference?).
Why We Stay Angry Instead of Releasing Our Anger in Eating Disorder Recovery
The reason we stay angry in eating disorder recovery is simple. We feel more powerful when we’re angry versus when we’re sad. When sadness overtakes us we can feel as though we’re floundering with our bellies exposed.
Anger, on the other hand, gives us a sense of power and allows us to move with fire in our bellies. The problem with anger is that it holds a false sense of power. Often the angriest person in the room is also the saddest or the person who feels the most hurt and pain.
Ways to Release Anger in Eating Disorder Recovery:
1) Do Five Wind Sprints
I realize the irony of telling someone with an eating disorder to do a form of exercise, but if you are healthy enough and this will not trigger you, it’s a great one. Just a few sprints of 30-50 feet will help to clear some of that built-up aggression.
2) Throw Clay Against a Wall
If you have a space to throw something safely, perhaps in your backyard or garage, hurling clay can be quite satisfying. If you can talk out loud, give a voice to what’s going on internally before each throw.
3) Scream in Your Car
This is one of my personal favorites. You can do this one with our without music playing over your stereo. You may want to sit in your driveway or park the car somewhere safe. Scream as loud as you can for as long as you can. Get that anger out. Usually, only a few screams will leave you feeling exhausted and energetically cleared out. You can also scream underwater in the ocean or your bathtub.
The most important thing when you’re releasing your anger in eating disorder recovery is to make sure that you are getting that anger moving out of your body. Feel it fully and then choose to let it go in whatever way feels best for you. Space is a vacuum and when we clear the anger we have more room for the good things like self-love, compassion, and greater strength for our recovery.
Releasing Anger in Eating Disorder Recovery by Screaming in Your Car