ABC ED

How old are you?

22, but I turn 23 in exactly one week. Hooray?

What is your gender?

Female.

Do you consider it possible to recover completely from an eating disorder?

Hmm. I do think it’s possible to recover in terms of symptoms– ie. not starve, not binge, not purge, normalize eating patterns. However, my experience of my ED, at least so far, is that it has changed me. I believe my ED is a symptom of my depression, and now that I’ve used this symptom to control my emotions, it will always be a tool available to me, just like self-harming, just like all these other protective measures I use to regulate myself. I don’t think I, or anyone really, can go back to exactly the way they were pre-ED.

Do you consider media (magazines, television, etc) to encourage and contribute to the spread of eating disorders?

This is a complicated question. The media does not cause EDs,no. Have I found it hard to manage gaining weight and maintaining self-confidence and integrity during recovery in a world (and a profession) where size is key? YES. It’s as though an extra layer is put on the process of recovery. I needed to weigh more than I ever had in order to get my body back into functioning mode, but it was nearly impossible to separate my pride of being where I needed to be to be healthy from the self-hatred for being above a “perfect” weight. In other words, it just worsens things, I think.

What do you think is the primary cause of an ED? If you believe that different disorders manifest differently, please specify.

To be honest, I can only speak for myself, but I think it’s the case for many of us. I believe that my ED was a manifestation of other psychological disorders in my history– bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, OCD. It was a new method for me to self-regulate. Personally, it had NOTHING to do with how I looked or the desire to be “perfect” or “remain a child” or those other things people tell you cause EDs. I think each person is different, but like other forms of self-harm, it’s a way to keep scary emotions at bay.

Would you classify yourself as currently suffering from an eating disorder?

I tend to say I’m in recovery, or I’m recovering. That word is meaningless by itself, but to me, it means that I have all the tools in place to move forward– but it means nothing about my “success” in “beating” an ED. I still fuck up, constantly, but I feel my brain and my intentions are in the place where I am slowly, but surely, moving towards health.

Have you ever been in therapy? If so,when?

I saw a therapist as a kid, from around 8 years old to 13ish. I took a long hiatus, when I was doing “well” and my mother crowed on about how I was “fixed.” Obviously, that’s not the way it works, so I started seeing a therapist again in fall of 2009 (funnily enough, I entered into therapy, without meaning to, right in the middle of developing the restriction portion of my eating disorder. In June I called her and told her I wanted to meet, July/August was the first stages of my ED, and then I met her for the first time in Sep. Classic.)

For how long have you suffered from an eating disorder?

Summer of 2009 is when it started, so going on 3 years now. Jesus.

How would you describe your experience with therapy, if applicable?

I couldn’t really tell you what it did when I was a kid, but now I have such a strong relationship with my therapist I think it does a lot. She’s the one person on the planet who I can tell literally anything to with no repercussions. She’s also given me an entirely new language of talking about and processing my feelings. I think our work together has literally changed ways that I think. It’s a great gift.

Do you consider yourself a happy person?

Yes. However, I’m also one of the saddest people I know. Basically, I’m chemically imbalanced in every sense of the word. But I do go through my life with great wonder and joy. (my laugh/cry is legendary)

Do you share the nature of your disorder with anyone in your personal life? If so, describe this relationship.

I sent an email to about 8 of my closest friends during the deepest part of my ED, letting them know that I was struggling and working to recover. I have never talked directly to my parents about it. In the last year, I have talked about my ED (usually just the restriction part– I still find binging to be waaaaay too shameful to discuss with even my therapist) directly with two or so friends. I do not share gory details with anyone except on the internet.

Do you actively hide your disorder from anyone in your personal life? If so, please elaborate.

Not really. I don’t talk about it, never let on if I’ve binged. Sometimes I’ll say “I’m having a rough day,” if the ED has disrupted me in an extreme way. It’s not necessarily that I hide, more that I don’t volunteer information.

Are you a competitive person?

I kind of think I am. I’m not into sports or anything, but I do like to keep one step ahead of the pack. I think it’s tied to my perfectionism and my deep desire to keep everything under control.

Do you believe that you will ever overcome your ED?

Yes? I mean, it’s already been over two years I’ve been actively recovering and I still trip up all the freaking time. I hope someday I have more good days then bad, but to be honest, the recovery process has been even longer and more fraught then I ever thought it would be. If I every do “overcome” my ED, I imagine it’ll be 10+ years from now.

jesus, that’s depressing.

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