Understanding why we cling to ED

 

ED says U said - a chance to help others Understand the Language of Eating Disorders.

ED says U said - a chance to help others Understand the Language of Eating Disorders.

ED says U said – Understanding the Language of Eating Disorders is filling up fast with hundreds of dialogues contributed by carers and people with eating disorder experience from around the world. Thank you! Of course, I want more!

One conversation that has popped up time and time again runs like this: “Why is this (recovery) taking so long?”

Comments to the person with the eating disorder include: 

– Father: aren’t you trying?

– Friend: have you checked your doctor’s qualifications?

– Sister: I’m sure that doctor is just trying to get more money out of you.

Comments directed at carers include:

– Employer: why aren’t you back at work? You can’t just keep taking time off.

– Friend: just tell her to pull her socks up and stop wasting her life.

– Work colleague: your daughter needs a good kick in the pants.

During the 44 years as an eating disorder captive, I heard all the above and more. Thousands more! I tried to recover, and tried again. More than a thousand times over. I reached the stage where I understood that my strategy seemed doomed to fail. But never mind. Before I knew it I would be trying the same method, again and again. THIS time will be different, I would say, and off I would go – again. I kept failing because the foundation for recovery was wrong. I tried to recover, take control, be normal, whatever you want to call it, by a) eating three meals a day or b) counting xxxx of calories a day. I wrote plan after plan after plan for recovery. Tens of thousands of plans! Enough plans to fill several large trucks. All plans failed within hours or at the most several days. I was like a car trying to run without an engine. Going nowhere. I needed a toolbox, and I needed tools. I needed a rebuild in my brain.
“ED” had been ruling my brain since age 11. All decision-making stemmed from the skills that ED had taught me. (“If I eat this many calories, I can cope with this person/event/emotion.”) I appreciate how difficult it is to break free from the power of ‘ED’.

At age 37, in 1988, September 23, I wrote:

Window in my life: Concentrate on positives. I will NOT starve/binge for the rest of my life. I will exercise for … minutes daily, eat … calories daily.

September 28, 1988:

My window SHATTERED. I let my thoughts turn themselves upon me. I ate and ate and ate. And felt totally dislodged. Insecure, anxious, nervous and unreal. BUT …
A NEW window has opened for me TODAY. This window is so carefully and thoughtfully secured that I KNOW it will stay open for the rest of my life. The special ingredient is ‘POSITIVE’. I am concentrating, focusing my thought powers ONLY on positive matters. If there is something negative then I will quickly decide if I’ve any control over it or not … if I I don’t, I’ll dismiss it from my thoughts by substituting one of my favourite positives (a cuddle, a bubble bath, a walk, a Bible reding, a phone call, a bunch of flowers)…

October 5, 1988:
Today is the first day of the rest of my life.  Went to a doctor yesterday as my skin was raging with blotches. Nerves, tension, the doctor said. I know this is because I’ve been shirking the truth. I should have been stronger before now. Too bad. I’ll have to be strong now. STRONGER. …. 

On and on it goes … I eventually GOT THERE, crossed the line, regained me, in 2006. It was a LONG journey! One of the world’s longest marathons, maybe. Letting go of ED was incredibly hard and incredibly scary. I understand what it is like for people suffering today. I had to construct something to take ED’s place. Fill the gap. With something safe, secure and stable. My soul. Worth the struggle! Life without ED is beautiful. Changing and rebuilding thought patterns and behaviours does require help. Today, recovery tools are far more accessible and effective than when I was in my 20s and 30s. The good news is that I know you can do it: you can break free. Because I did.

Best way to respond

I invite you to share comments made to you as a carer or as a person with an eating disorder, about the length of recovery … and be sure to include your response! When someone asks ‘aren’t you/isn’t she better yet?’, what is the best way to respond?

Your answers will help others understand “ED”. Keep your contributions to no more than 200 words and  email to june@junealexander.com as soon as you can:-)