Kate Funk, LMFT, Eating Disorder Therapist
Kate Funk, LMFT is a wonderful human being that I had the pleasure of meeting and working with while at Monte Nido & Affiliates. She is one of the many recovered professionals that I have met along my journey and she has provided me with knowledge and faith in the recovery process. Kate has agreed to share her story of struggling with an eating disorder and her process to being fully recovered today.
What is your experience with recovering from an eating disorder?
Recovering from an eating disorder was the hardest thing I have ever done. Recovery is like learning to breathe water instead of air. You must relearn the most basic life-sustaining human function and work through the fear that the very act will drown you. It is the most painful and overwhelming process I have ever experienced, one that I am incredibly grateful for, and one that I would never jeopardize.
Despite the agony, and the bathtubs worth of tears, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The pain was necessary, and the process was vital, if I wanted to gain true freedom from fear, obsession, and ultimately myself.
In recovery I learned to become my authentic self. I learned that the loud, silly, creative girl I had been running from wasn’t so bad after all. I learned that the people who didn’t appreciate my true self, weren’t for me. I risked my fear of judgement and was vulnerable with those around me, and I learned who my true friends were.
Recovery gave me the very things my eating disorder promised it would award me. I learned how to be confident in my own skin. I learned to appreciate my own unique sense of humor and intelligence. I learned to tolerate and eventually like myself. My eating disorder promised me I would be more confident, likeable, and successful, but it only dug me deeper into self- hatred.
What are your thoughts on resistance from clients struggling with an Eating Disorder?
In the beginning I never wanted to recover. I was pushed into it by my parents, and this was the greatest gift they ever gave me. I had no intention or desire to get well, but as I went to treatment and saw other people living “normal” lives, I felt more and more inspired to create my own life. I found that my peers in the facility liked my silly side and they became my friends, some of which I am still close to today!
As I built a life that I wanted to live, the eating disorder held less and less of a grip on my life. I had more time and energy for the things and relationships that really mattered to me. I graduated college, enrolled in graduate school, and decided to be a therapist specializing in eating disorders.
What continues to inspire you to work with clients that are struggling with eating disorders?
In my own journey I was shocked how few mental health professionals had knowledge of eating disorders, and I wanted to help those suffering find someone who understood them. I began reading about Carolyn Costin’s work developing her own treatment facility and philosophy and was surprised that it mimicked so much of my own work. I was surprised that she referred to herself as “recovered.”
In treatment I was taught that once you had an eating disorder you would struggle for the rest of your life, a fate that I accepted. I realized while reading more about Carolyn, that I was recovered too! Food and body image no longer ruled my life. That was an incredibly surreal experience! I didn’t totally believe it at first, but I knew in my gut that I was no longer bound by the disorder.
Today I am free from my eating disorder, and I live a truly unbelievable life. Becoming a therapist specializing in eating disorders has been incredibly rewarding.
As a recovered eating disorder therapist, is it hard working with clients struggling through the same thing?
People always ask if I feel triggered by my clients and the answer is NO! If anything it is a daily reminder of why I recovered and why I never want to go back to the disorder. Today my life is good. Why would I EVER want to go back to a world where I hated myself and thought only of food?! I love sitting across from someone and knowing where their mind is going. I love being able to say, “Yeah, you say that, but what are you really thinking?” and knowing the answer. Having walked in the shoes of my clients, I realize that every eating disorder is unique, but I quickly pick up how it serves them.
That insider knowledge is invaluable, and I always feel like a million bucks when a client looks up at me and seems shocked that I took the words right out of their mouth. The gratitude I receive from my clients is unlike anything I have ever experienced. I always say people with eating disorders are among the most loving, intelligent, talented humans on the planet, and I am honored to be considered one of them. My job is the greatest blessing of my life.
My relationship with food today is truly a healed, balanced, and nurturing relationship. It took me many years to get to where I am today, but I am able to trust and listen to my body. I eat for fuel. I eat for enjoyment. I eat for community. I have meals and snacks that fall into a routine, but I also am spontaneous and can have an unexpected dessert on a random Tuesday without a second thought. I still like to bake from time to time, but I am no longer obsessed with it. I would much rather go out to eat a delicious meal and skip out on the dishes than spend hours searching for the “perfect” ingredients and recipes. Food allows me to have a life, but it is not my life.
What advice would you give to others struggling with an eating disorder?
If I was to offer advice to anyone still struggling, I would say, give recovery a full shot! You know what life in your eating disorder is like; it’s the same misery day in and day out. What you don’t know is what life recovered will look like. Give it your full effort for a year. If, a year from now, you’re still just as miserable, you can always go back to the eating disorder. In my experience, no one ever chooses to. The gifts of recovery are endless, but you can only uncover them if you take the leap of faith and try!
Kate Funk is a licensed marriage and family therapist with a private practice in The Woodlands, TX.
About the Author
Stephanie Polizzi is a licensed psychotherapist (LMHC) in Scarsdale, NY at Peaceful Living Mental Health Counseling. Stephanie is an expert in treating teens and adults struggling with anxiety, eating disorders, behavioral challenges, life transitions and trauma. Stephanie uses a combination of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness, and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) & EMDR in her work with clients. Stephanie is available on weekdays, evenings & Saturdays in our Scarsdale office or via Telehealth for video counseling sessions.