Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Naming of eating disorders


Picture 2

Two posts in one day!  I’ve had a couple people post in my Topics and Questions sections.  This comes from my Topics page:

What do you think of a person naming the eating disorder ED or any other names? I’m not sure what I think about it but it seems lately I’m seeing more and more people do this.
On one hand, I think what ever helps is ok, but I’m not convinced it’s always healthy. Just wondered if you had any thoughts on this…

What do I think about people using things like Ed or Ana or Mia to refer to their eating disorders?  I HATE IT. Detest it.

You personalize things you care about and love–your pets and sometimes your plants.  I’ve given my GPS unit a name so I can talk to her while driving.  I like thanking her when she gets me where I need to go, especially since I suck with directions.

I have named my ICD–Lily–because she’s now in my chest, and there will always be a piece of metal in my chest in order to save my life.

I have not named the ARVD anything other than ARVD.  It’s an illness.

I never gave my eating disorder some cute name like “ana” or “mia” or “ed.”  Eating disorders are seriously, deadly illnesses.  They are not your friends and will never be your friends.  They will do everything in their power to destroy not only your health, but your relationships, your school career, your job, and your mental stability.

Naming something gives that thing power.  An eating disorder already exerts enough power in your life, why would you want to give it more?



November 5, 2009 - Posted by | Eating Disorders, identity | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I don’t have an issue with someone referring to their eating disorder as ED. When I was in treatment we called our eating disorders ED because you need to separate yourself from it. The eating disorder has its own thoughts and what it tells you to do. So thinking “Is this my thoughts or what ED wants me to think?”
    I’m not all about the ana/mia bullshit, though. That’s generally pro-sick related. And I don’t support that.

    Comment by Sarah | November 5, 2009 | Reply

  2. I think that for some, naming their eating disorder can be very powerful. I read the book ‘Life Without Ed’ which characterized the authors eating disorder as Ed, an abusive boyfriend-esque character. Naming when positive, pet-type names I get is destructive however for some, removing ‘self’ from ‘ed’ (knowing these are my thoughts and these are the thoughts of my disorder) can work to help get them toward recovery. I don’t see using names in that way as pro-__ thoughts at all…I don’t know though, what do you think? Can it ever be constructive to use a name?

    Comment by SG | November 5, 2009 | Reply

    • For me, the idea of naming the eating disorder “Ed” is inappropriate. I think people are getting this tendency to say things like “Ed made me think” or “Ed made me do.” An eating disorder is not a sentient being. An illness does not think or feel. We have the ability to change our thoughts. Whether or not we are willing to do so is another thing entirely.

      If naming the eating disorder Ed has helped you/anyone separate themselves from the eating disorder and move away from it, I can’t complain. I’ve tried to always make clear that things in this blog are my opinion, and that the way I came to my recovery is MY particular journey.

      I’m not sure anyone will convince me ana or mia is okay, though. There are just so many other connotations with those two names.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | November 5, 2009 | Reply

    • I was also going to ask about the Jenni Schaefer books. 🙂

      I never thought of my eating disorder as a personified thing until I read “Life Without Ed” and I think it makes sense. It’s also a lot easier to explain the eating disorder as a “bad boyfriend” to someone who hasn’t experienced it, they can understand better. I don’t see it as, “Ed made me do it!”, more like this is my eating disorder, it’s a separate part of myself.

      But I do think Ana and Mia are very pro-ED and I cringe when I see it used. I see Ed as pro-recovery.

      Comment by Jen | November 5, 2009 | Reply

  3. I named my eating disorder Claudia. I’m not even sure how or where it came from, but to me, Claudia has always been a selfish, self serving bitch. When my eating disorder is loud, I have to remind myself that it is Claudia, and not my own voice. I remind myself that my voice is louder and stronger than hers. I don’t think that naming the eating disorder gave it more power. For me it was a way to seperate myself from it. I’m not just an eating disorder, and when I am entrenched in behaviors, it is easy to forget that.

    Comment by Angel | November 5, 2009 | Reply

  4. For me, naming my eating disorder has helped me to separate ME from it, MY life from life with an eating disorder, what I want from what the e.d. wants, etc. . .

    I don’t know that all names are comparable. If one is naming an e.d. ana or mia or some other name to make it “friendly” and personable, I agree that that’s a problem.

    But there are plenty of things in this world that have names that I don’t care for! And I call my e.d. “Ed” and I f-ing HATE HATE HATE my e.d. I think the intentions behind naming it are more important than whether or not it’s named.

    I’m one of those people who feels very much like my e.d. is something else inhabiting me, so to name it just make sense. I was referring to it in the third person before anyway, and my e.d. does really feel like another voice talking to me. (Within the past couple of years, it’s actually turned into a voice that is directed at me – “You, etc., etc.”) And, separating it helps me to focus on recovery, actually. When I find myself thinking (hearing) something in my head like, “You should restrict today because of _____,” I can now talk/think back with, “No. That’s got to be Ed talking. Because *I* would NEVER think that someone should be punished in that way.”Naming it actually allows me to still feel like I can correct what’s going on in my head, because so often the thoughts pop up without any warning, so I can’t change them before they’ve imposed themselves.

    Also, referring to my e.d. as “Ed” reminds me that I am not Ed. Ed is not me. I’m my own person and Ed can go f*** himself.

    Comment by sayhealth | November 5, 2009 | Reply

  5. I suppose, one could argue, this is one of the more minor issues regarding eating disorders in gerneral, but I really hate it when I come across someone who refers the their eating disorder by any name. I didn’t realize just how much I hate it until today.
    I have had depression for probably longer than I had an eating disorder. When I feel down, I tend to isolste, I tend to stay in bed a few minutes longer before starting my day. But these aren’t decisions the depression makes. They ar MY decisions affected by my mood. An illness can not, by any means, think there by make a choice. And naming it, as it seems to me, gives the person less responsibility and less control. Not in all cases of course. I read the above comments and if it helps motivate someone to see the distortions in their thinking, who am I to judge?

    But more often than not, when I come across someone using Ed as the name of their eating disorder, it sounds very much the same as someone who says…”the devil made me do it.”

    Comment by unknownperson | November 5, 2009 | Reply

  6. I use the abreviation ED. I use to say these are the ED thoughts. I don’t think that ED want’s me to do this. I’ll go more with the ED thoughts are this.

    I don’t know if that makes sense. I know that I don’t listen to the ed thoughts as much anymore. I know that when the ED thoughts come they can be seductive, or like a shriek of pure rage and hatered directed against myself.

    I’m with you though. If it helps you get better do what what works for you.

    Comment by david | November 5, 2009 | Reply

  7. I agree with “ana” and “mia”. I think it is inappropriate and unhealthy. I use the initials E.D. although I often leave out the “.” when I type just to shorten it in terms of when I am writing, but not verbally. I never say E.D. as in the name “Ed” but I write it in such a way just because I do not want to type out Eating Disorder. I do however find it helpful to separate my thoughts with the eating disordered thoughts. Do I think they are coming from another individual or another driving force……..not necessarily. I believe that using the visual of the separation however, does help me “reality check” and also understand my distorted thoughts….note, I used the word MY distorted thoughts NOT Ed’s distorted thoughts because as you mentioned when someone says, “Ed made me do this” than it only takes the responsibility away from the individual. Lastly, the illness can make an individual not aware though and confuse reality with the eating disordered thoughts so i am not saying that one always has complete control over the eating disordered perceptions, at least not until one is taught to identify which thoughts are distorted and which thoughts are truth.

    Comment by Jessica | November 5, 2009 | Reply

  8. I hate it, too. Never did it, except maybe when I “joined” the online ED community in 2001 and I didn’t know what else to do so after reading a few posts by people, i though I was SUPPOSED to say Ana/Mia.. but it always, always felt wrong/contrived/strange/freaky so I never used it. :p

    “I have not named the ARVD anything other than ARVD. It’s an illness.” omg hahah WIN. SO spot on.

    Comment by janie | November 5, 2009 | Reply

  9. I appreciate all of your comments. I’m beginning to see how naming it “Ed” is helpful in separating yourself from the eating disorder. This I agree with. I think anything that helps you separate yourself from the eating disorder is a good thing.

    Comment by surfacingaftersilence | November 6, 2009 | Reply

  10. Yes its so true- both the power angel and the seperation. I understand this and I grapple with the issue and can see both sides of this. I hate giving anything so deadly an identity. Power that an ED it is SO non deserving of. However- there is the seperation issue. I no longer feel any identity or connection to the old eating disorder that once consumed me. What am I ? I am a ME – a Lisa- I am a Momma – I am a friend and a Christian and I am unique person and I am strong and a fighter. There is no more anorexia.
    I do seperate myself from this an in my minds eye I see the old ED as a plant. A weed actually. More like a vine. And I have wacked at it. Wacked away chipped away cutting it down. Tearing it off me. It once encircled me wrapping itself around my legs my belly my arms. I slowly cut it off me – hacking the prickles and vines. Chopping it down a little more each day. Now its dead shriveled and gone. I have to keep chopping though since I never want it to start growing again. Each day I hack away still – still some days wacking more than others!! Now a rose grows- blossoms and flowers……………….no more weeds no more thorny vines. Flowers- gentle blossoms. My spirit and my soul my body and my flesh- yes CURVES – yes this is the ME I love. ED – a weed, never to entangle me again.

    So- no name persay but seperation yes…………

    Comment by Lisa | November 6, 2009 | Reply

  11. I always called mine “the Bastard”. And when i started treatment one of my goals was to “kick the Bastard’s ass”. My dietician thought that was great.
    It helped put it into perspective— the ed was not a friend, it’s a bastard. I don’t want to treat it well, I want to kick it’s ass. It also eased the tension when things got rough. If I didn’t want to do something i needed to they’d say “what happened to kicking the Bastard’s ass?” That would at least get a smile out of me and gently remind me what path I need to be taking.

    Comment by Andi | November 6, 2009 | Reply

  12. very powerful ideas as usual:) by the way my GPS is named muffin. but i think you knew that already.

    Comment by slzu | November 9, 2009 | Reply

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