I remember being deep in the trenches of my eating disorder and going through moments of being flooded with anger. It felt like anything could set me off, and it wasn’t the type of productive anger my team told me could be healthy to learn how to tap into. This was the kind of anger that comes from severe malnourishment and cognitive/emotional impairment. These floods of uncharacteristic rage (let’s call it what it is) were also typically followed by a period of regret and/or “clingy-ness.”
It was comforting to learn going through cycles of rage and regret (and sometimes clinginess), or floods of other emotions was not something I was alone in experiencing in my ED, and there were also things I learned I could do about it:
1) Anticipate it. Use mindful observation to identify patterns in your emotions. I learned the period between getting off work and getting ready for bed was the time I was most vulnerable to intense emotion, which empowered me to have things in place that I could use to self-regulate.
2) Self-soothing and distraction skills. Take some deep breaths. Check in with your five senses. Find what (productive) things work for you. My best resource was a podcast I got really into. I’d plug in my headphones to listen as I unloaded from the day, got ready for bed, took care of various tasks, and even had it set on a sleep timer to lull me to sleep at bedtime if needed.
3) Talk about it. With safe people, and when you’re in a more regulated place. This is another reason being able to anticipate your emotional patterns is helpful- so you can talk in advance about how to approach these moments together.
4) Practice self-compassion. The actions you display when you’re in this kind of state are likely not in line with who you are or what you value, and it can be easy to feel guilty. Remember, these outbursts are a reflection of immense suffering. They aren’t who you are, and there is room for grace.
5) Follow your meal plan. I know, I know, you knew this one was coming. However, speaking from experience, there is FOR SURE an inverse relationship between food consumed and frequency/intensity of these unwelcome rage attacks. *Log this one under “reasons my dietitian encourages me to eat that has nothing to do with weight” for those times you start to question their motives- it’s okay, we all do it.
As always, I am open and interested in hearing what you've found works for you! Please feel welcome to reach out with your ideas and feedback.