Yep, i did. Until now not many people know that about me. I would see nuns in their habits, in what looked like happy groups (I never saw a solitary nun until i was in my 30’s, and that’s a whole other story), and secretly wish to be like them.
It doesn’t need Freud for part of the reasoning. My mother who found me so awful had been raised by nuns – so maybe there was a secret fantasy to be raised by someone other than my mother. My mother had issues from a young age and found herself in a Catholic reform school. I always remembered her speaking fondly of the nuns – unlike how she spoke about/to me. I longed to be part of something that was “fondly”.
Then there is the dress code. For someone who hates seeing their body, a habit would work. Plus there is an aspect of gender-lessness about being married to God. I wouldn’t have to worry about pesky boys/men.
Then there is the purity. Something that also comes from the less attractive starving of oneself or abusing laxatives.
My sessions with Dr Freud Dude have made me realise how losing a roof over my head 3 times in my life has shaped how i interact with the world (and almost certainly is behind my need to hermit, and the sense the sky is going to fall in). A nunnery would be very safe, very solid. There would be rules, and boundaries. There wouldn’t be the mess of my childhood and young adulthood. There would be routines, not chaos.
I would also be part of a big family/community.
I often tell friends that if anything happens to my relationship with Ray i’ll go off and be a nun.Perhaps all of the above still applies in someway.
I keep waking at 2 am and can’t get back to sleep before 3 am. It’s been going on for weeks and driving me mad(der). Ray asked me in the early hours today what was on my mind. It’s my scar. I still haven’t looked at it since the breast surgery in June. I hate my breasts, they’re too big to my ED head. Now there different sizes and one is scarred.
I saw Dr Freud Dude today. It was quite a powerful session, but as is the case painful and tiring. I spoke more about the punishment Martin would deliver if i didn’t do as he required. Of having to take the morning after pill because of John – and the moral and physical sides to it. How my head tells me i deserved the pain and loneliness of the experience. I’m realizing as the sessions go on that having a roof over my head (part of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) has influenced my decision making. I also finally acknowledged the loss of everything when i quit nursing because of what John did to me. My entire identity, my future, my past died that day.
I came home to our two wonderful cats and my amazing husband. Life has turned for the better in so many ways, but the scars of the past still itch with tightness.
Goodbye Ed: Why I Don’t Call My Eating Disorder “Ed” (Anymore)
posted in Anorexia, Eating Disorder Recovery, Eating Disorders, Ed, Healing, Hope, Life Without Ed, Self-help, Therapy by char-latte
In 2006, I entered treatment for the first time. I also read Jenni Schaefer’s book Life Without Ed. She externalizes and personifies her eating disorder as, “Ed,” on par to an abusive husband who she has since divorced.
At the time, externalizing my eating disorder was helpful because up until that point, I was convinced that my eating disorder was, actually, me. When I read it, Life Without Ed changed the way I understood my eating disorder. I learned that I could survive the loss of my eating disorder. That was a profound realization for me. When losing my eating disorder felt like part of me had died, and I didn’t know if I could pick up the pieces again, I had this: “Life without Ed is waiting for you/ Be strong keep the faith and you’ll see it coming true/… You can believe in life without Ed.”
I am not the only one who found comfort in Life Without Ed. During both of my stints in residential treatment, conversations were peppered with “Ed” lingo.
“Ed was really chatty today.”
“Ed was driving me crazy. I told him to go home.”
People in treatment would applaud and mmhmmmm. Head shake. Yeah Ed that jackass. He’s the worst.
I used that language too. I found this from one of my 2010 journal entries: “Ed has been my horrible husband for the last few years, and when I feel so bitter and angry, I come running back to him, abusive as he is, because he’s familiar and comfortable.”
Phrases like, “It’s not you I’m mad at, it’s Ed,” or, “Tell Ed to shut up,” were comforting to me at the time. Besides, to be honest, if you don’t drink the “Ed” Kool Aid, residential treatment can be a menacing nightmare. It is a pseudo-expectation that if you are in treatment, you will call your eating disorder “Ed” at some point. Ed is common treatment vernacular, the metaphorical elephant in the room.
Since I left treatment for the last time, the seasons have come and gone and the roller coast of life has continued. As I morphed and grew, I said goodbye to Ed, but in a different way. I have stopped calling my eating disorder “Ed,” or by any other name, for that matter.
That has been my own personal choice, and I don’t have anything against people calling their eating disorder by a name. Similar to this eloquent blogger, I am just trying to open the conversation up.
I don’t think that “Ed”ing your way through recovery is the only way.
There are some great reasons to externalize the eating disorder (ED) voice. But I am just going to say it: it is possible to go Ed-less. In this post, I am going to delineate some of the reasons that I have chosen life without the term Ed:
1. Because reducing my eating disorder to something outside of me does not take into effect that eating disorders are complicated diseases. What most worries me about the term “Ed” is that it has the potential for simplicity and reductionism. The whole of something cannot be reduced to the sum of its parts. An eating disorder is more than what the ED voice says. If it was only about telling Ed to shut the hell up, you might think that recovery would be easier. I recently donated my blood to support genetic eating disorder research. Why? Because, research wise, we know relatively little about eating disorders. Externalizing an ED may be helpful to sufferers but it is a shortcut, a heuristic. It may help someone for a period of time, and if it does, great, but “Ed” is a tool, not a solution. Pat answers to complex questions can be harmful if taken at face-value.
2. Because my eating disorder is a part of me. One of my favorite recovery books is Gaining by Aimee Liu (read it, seriously). In it, she interviews people who recovered from eating disorders decades ago, but she notices in them (and in herself) personality characteristics and other similarities to the ED that linger. I may not hear eating disorder thoughts for the rest of my life, nor will I give in to urges, but I believe that my eating disorder will always be a part of me in some capacity. In recovery, I have had to discover the scared, fearful voice inside and honor that voice. If my eating disorder thoughts are loud, I have to ask: Why? What is going on right now? Instead of screaming “ED I’M DIVORCING YOU” at the time of my lungs when an ED thought hits, I am now more likely to listen to what my internal voice is telling me and ask what I’m feeling and why.
3. Because the concept is a little strange. I get why people do it. Like I said, I myself called my eating disorder “Ed” for a while. But… can we for 2 seconds think that there might be down sides to using “Ed”? I mean, to state the obvious, my ED voice is not a person. It’s not like I’m living with this asshole named Ed against whom I can file a restraining order, you know? For me, the idea of an abusive guy (or girl, whatever) in my head is not appealing at this point in my life. I’ve dated enough asshole guys, so why would I make up a nonexistent one and be in a pretend bad relationship with him? I am doing fine on my own, thanks. Also, could the term be demeaning to people who have undergone abuse or domestic violence? Could it be re-traumatizing even?
4. Because, quite frankly, calling my eating disorder “Ed” can be a cop out. “Ed was talking so loud” is a common sentiment you hear in treatment. Or even, “Ed was getting really worked up when you said x yesterday.” Is saying something like that helpful? What about, “I was feeling really anxious today because I was thinking of x and did y, and I’m having issues coping with my anxiety. My feelings are overwhelming.” Okay then! Now we have something to work with. That is taking the issue to its source. Blaming, sometimes scapegoating, Ed is not helping people to recovery. Eating disorder thoughts don’t come out of a vacuum. I have to place them in their proper context and take responsibility for them.
5. Because, after a while, eating disorder recovery has less and less to do with the behaviors. At the end of the day, the reason I have stopped calling my eating disorder Ed is because the term is no longer relevant for me. I don’t have regular urges to engage in eating disorder behaviors. I am not over my eating disorder completely just yet, but my recovery process has shifted. My therapist specializes in eating disorders. But do you know what we do NOT talk about 95% of the time in therapy? My eating disorder behaviors! Or my eating disorder at all. These topics are not agenda items. In fact, if my therapist made me set up a chair and do an “Ed’s voice- my voice” role play, I’d stare at her and then probably get pissed. Those things might have worked for me at one time, but they no longer do.
I met Jenni Schaefer at an event earlier this year. She signed a bumper sticker for me that is pink and has a line through the word Ed. I have placed it on a binder for my school papers. I don’t hate Life Without Ed. I don’t read it anymore, but I don’t hate it. If it works for you, fabulous, keep using the term.
What I get concerned about is the fact that there is an expectation, or to get punny, an EDspectation, that if you have an eating disorder, his name must be Ed. Ed is preferable, Ana or Mia are secondarily accepted.
Externalizing is not the only way of recovering from an eating disorder. Or, “Ed” may work for you for a reason of your life, and then it may become irrelevant. The “Ed” label no longer fits in my personal recovery journey. And that’s okay.
Like this blog post says, some people may find the term belittling. Some may feel invalidated by it. Some may find it simplistic. Others may find it to be a brilliant way of breaking from of an eating disorder’s tight grip. Great. But let’s at least talk about it.
Foregoing the term “Ed” does not constitute recovery heresy.
I started with a cold the week before last, my asthma decided to take exception and my peak flow dropped to 250. Out came the emergency prednisolone – 8 tiny white tablets to be taken once a day for 5 days. Argh, i ate these tiny white things. There is always a reluctance to star them, and as i pop the tablets out i get bored of counting. My head starts worrying about weight gain whilst i’m on them. I fear the usual low mood that comes with taking them. Yet, ultimately i need to get my lungs healthy, i need to breathe. I get through Wednesday with work and Dr Freud Dude. I discussed the hen party and my need to hermit. He pointed out how i try and look at everything logically, that there must be a rationale to all that has happened to me. I need to discuss the feelings. That is a very scary thing. I’m a very logical person. I guess i’m wired to believe there is a reason for everything. The idea of chaos and randomness is utterly terrifying. How i make sense of things is by believing it’s all my own fault. This makes logical sense. To then do away with “it’s all my own fault” thinking i am left with what?
By Wednesday night my chest was worse i had a dreadful temperature, i knew i wouldn’t be going into work the next day. My anxiety had a bit more fodder as i know i’ll have breached a sickness target and i’ll now have to have a disciplinary hearing. However, I’ve spent the last few days unable to get a full breath. It’s as if the air in my lungs can’t get out to let a new breath in. A very horrid sensation.
I had a nebulizer at the GP practice on Thursday and a course of antibiotics. I’ve been flomped on either the bed or the sofa as not surprisingly i’ve had no energy for anything. My head has been roaring at my inactivity and at the steroids. And the hunger. The steroids make me so hungry, so to try and ignore this craving is so hard, but with my head i have to try and cope with the stomach clawing hunger. As i’m in recovery from anorexia i should be good at ignoring this hunger, but i’m not.
Today i have a little more breath going in and out and the awful weakness isn’t so bad.
Emma’s getting married next April, but as her sister lives in America Em’s having her do tonight. I’m going – which will be a struggle. I do like being around drunk people. Our city is full of students who’s main task at the weekend is to go out and get absolutely wasted. This is my idea of hell. So my anxiety about go out tonight is really high. The list of things that could happen or go wrong is endless. I’m sure as the day goes on i’ll find more. I feel such a freak at moments like this. Everyone else will be giddy with excitement, bar me. I’ve been known to attempt Christmas work parties…get to the door of the venue and then turn around and get a taxi home. My mantra for tonight is “you can always get a taxi home”.