As you probably know by now, i am a recovering bulimic, and am always looking for ways to support others in the recovery process, as well as looking for advice and insight on my own recovery. I follow weightless (http://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2010/01/qa-on-eating-disorder-recovery-with-kendra-a-voice-in-recovery-part-2/) which features thoughtful interviews with people in the recovery process.
WARNING MAY BE TRIGGERING
A problem that eating disorders have in the media is their portrayal. It, like dieting, is often seen as a “willpower” issue, when it’s so much more than that (much like dieting) “I do worry more about trash media articles, because often the articles sound cliché, and make it sound like eating disorders are a willpower issue and not a complicated biological, chemical, cultural, environmental disorder.” Also, everyone sees the wasting waif that is the face of anorexia….but put me in a line up and you wouldn’t be able to go “HER…thats the bulimic” That is one of the MANY pitfalls of judging a person by their weight. Tell me to “lose weight fatty” and not so long ago it would throw me into a crying tailspin where I would purge everything I ate for 3 months. Hell I have even had relatives tell me to just be bulimic for 3 months so you lose 30 lbs so you can get out there and date after my husband left me (thanks insensitive bitch!) If I am skinny and its after 1994, it’s NOT because of a successful diet….its because I throw up. ITs when I get “fat” again that I am healthy, not living in a hell with my worth being defined as a number at the convergence of calories in, exercise, willpower, and hatred..
This particular article is with Kendra, the head of A voice of Recovery on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/AVoiceinRecovery) and she had some awesome things to say about ed, recovery and advocacy. First, she lashes out at the diet industry, which is the root of poor body image in oh so many women. ” I worry that because dieting is running rampant in this country by a multi-billion dollar industry, that parents will see dieting as a girl’s “right of passage.” I worry people will start dieting and end up with eating disorders. I believe the diet industry is a very damaging, powerful industry.” that is why diet ads, ESPICALLY to those in recovery can be so toxic….it’s really hard to ignore all the “lose weight fatty or no one will love you” messages in the media…or worse yet “lose weight fatty or your gonna DIIIEEEEEEEE” (i think i want a t-shirt with that on it, as a caption for a picture of receipts for diet food) that is the new special hell in the media for ed folks. Because EVERY diet becomes restriction, and for those with and ed, this can mean relapse.
She also talks about the lack of information for those RECOVERED….you hear all these stories about the bravery of women going into ED treatment, but you don’t see the reality out the other side…..IT can feel hopelessly long, and hard, and damn near impossible. The media, ESPICALLY for bulimia, doesn’t really talk about the long term effects….for me, my ED is becoming VERY real as my teeth fall out one by one….before the of 40. I also have digestion issues and acid reflux disease (from all my purging, my tummy ph is all messed up) and a horrid gag reflex. She too talks on her issues (which the media never covers for bulimics, or if they do it’s an aside, cause we aren’t SKINNY so its ok)
“I do have a LOT of dental issues. I was a kid who never had cavities, always had white teeth, and I now struggle with cavities, gum damage, etc. I also have a lot of digestive problems. Since I abused laxatives, I have a hard time processing foods. I also restricted and threw up so much food that I have acid reflux, and issues with eating certain types of foods.”
They don’t tell you that you can never enjoy orange juice (bottled sunshine) again without pain. Or red sauce (at least for me).
Kendra also talks on how people can help loved ones with an ed. Like with alcoholism, its really hard to help someone stop when they don’t WANT to stop. You have to have that Aha! moment. It’s important to remember, folks may NOT want help. “Also – this disorder lies: Often while you think a loved one may need help, the person struggling will not and sometimes cannot see this. Try not to lash out with frustration, and understand that it is a very complicated disorder, and it is normal for the person struggling to not want help, be unwilling to stop behaviors and may get very angry at any suggestion of help.”
It’s people like her that give me the courage to take it one day at a time, step by step into recovery. Sometimes all you can say is “I will try again tomorrow”