Friday, July 6, 2007

Defining ED

On CookieGirl's blog, she brought up the debate about eating disorders as choice or as external force/cause.

Personally, I've always subscribed to the notion that ED behaviors are the symptoms. I used ED behaviors to numb myself when I felt overwhelmed by emotions. It used to be my coping mechanism of choice; leading me to believe that I was in control of at least one thing, when everything else felt like complete chaos. (Of course, that's a lie.) Through my recovery, I've learned to cope in other ways.

Does that mean that I've cured my illness?

Are eating disorders curable?
I don't think so. And let me tell you why.

Even though I am symptom-free, I still have negative thoughts. I still have feelings that overwhelm me. I will always have these thoughts and feelings. This is the disease. I think of myself as in remission from my illness.

My medicine, which I take as often as needed, is to challenge those negative thoughts the moment they pop into my mind. To focus on the positive. To distract myself. If necessary, I pull out the other meds in my cabinet - deep breathing, stretching, walking, writing, talking - to keep my disease in remission.

Like the antihistamines for my allergies, I will need to take these medicines for the rest of my life. The dosages and frequency may change, but I will always need to be vigilant. As a person with cancer is reminded to continue screenings on a periodic basis to be sure the cancer remains gone, I too must continually screen myself for any hint of my symptoms returning.

And I do screen myself regularly. I take breaks during the day to breathe, to get up and move, to connect with another living being, to stretch. At these times, I take my medicine - I remind myself that life is about living, not numbers. That I'm not alone. That I'm beautiful and strong, intelligent and loving, caring and thoughtful.

So what's in your medicine chest?


Sarah said...

I agree. My behaviors are symptoms. My real illness is spiritual. In AA we say that we get a daily reprieve from alcoholism. That's what I'm trying to do with ED, too.

Jeanne said...

And sometimes, it's an hour's reprieve. But however long, be it 5 minutes or 5 months or 5 years, it's a major accomplishment.

carrie said...

For me, what keeps my ED at bay is hope. A lot of it.

And I, too, will be forever vigilant. I can't afford NOT to be. Like a person with skin cancer- it might be gone for now, but it could come back, so keep a good eye on your skin.

Jeanne said...

Awesome, carrie. Hope is incredibly powerful.

ms. em said...


2.Belief that recovery is reality.

3.Knowing that engaging in the behaviors of anorexia only affords me a false sense of reality.

4.Remembering the hell of incessant worry.

5. Maslow's hierarchy of needs. If you don't satisfy your own basic need of food, you never go up the pyramid. You live in perpetual inertia.

6. The words, "Don't let the bastards grind you down."

7. The serenity prayer.

8. Observing the battle within rather than engaging in it.

9. Knowing that living with anorexic behaviors is living a suffocated life.

10. Writing, painting, playing guitar and listening to music

And, of Mr. J.R. Cash

Most importantly, i have my recovery overlords as well. i accept that i may not see anorexia creeping its way back into my life. i value my recovery overlords/treatment team. trusting them and surrendering control to them has helped me to heal. they are my additional army of vigilance. it gives me room to breath and enjoy life.

AuthorMomWith Dogs said...

Wishing you continued strength on your journey.

t said...

I wish I knew what my medicine was!

Jeanne said...

Ms. em - Fabulous medicines!

AuthorMomWithDogs - thank you!

t - it takes some time to figure out what medicines (and in what combination) will work for you. The important thing is to keep trying - new meds, new combos, whatever it takes. You deserve to be healthy. We all do. ;-)

Rachel said...

I don't think you have to suffer from an eating disorder for the rest of your life, but it is always there, lying in wait. Eating disorder behaviors are ever so enticing, and sometimes the smallest triggers can set me back. Just as one cannot ever be cured from depression or other psychological disorders, neither can an ED be fully "cured." It can just be managed.

Jeanne said...

Rachel - I absolutely agree - one does not have to suffer with an eating disorder for life. All humans have setbacks - times when we're far from perfect. But then, we are human, after all. And that's okay - as long as we remember to be as patient with ourselves as we are with those around us. ;-)