Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

There is no eating disorder!

IMG_3723There’s been a couple comments and some messages I’ve received from others, and they make me want to clarify something:

I do not have an eating disorder.

I fully admit to having body image problems, but if that were the sole criteria for an eating disorder, 99% of the women in this country would have one, and probably that number would be the same for men by this point, too.  And my distortions are nowhere near what they used to be.

There have been comments about people being proud of me for not engaging in eating disorder behavior to cope with stress.  And I thank you for those comments.  But I want you to know that I never thought about using those behaviors.  I’m at a point in recovery where they don’t pop into my head.

There have been comments about how I might be reacting to Facebook drama with my “eating disordered self.”  And this is something I want to be clear on: there is no part of me that is still eating disordered.  There is no part of me that identifies myself as an anorexic.  I do not react with my eating disorder self; I respond to situations with my self.  The self free of eating disorder distortions or ways of communicating.  The self free of self-deprecating thoughts that somehow sneak into interpersonal relationships as an unconscious way of relating to others or as a passive aggressive means of communication.

I am NOT criticizing any of you if you are still in any of these stages.  They are almost necessary on the course of recovery.

What I want people to come away with is the knowledge that you can get over this.  Really and truly conquer the eating disorder.  I was sick for 12 years before I chose to get better.  I allowed people to help me once I made that choice, and it took time.  And it was one of the hardest (if not the hardest) and definitely the most terrifying decision I have every made.

I recently got back in touch with someone who was in the eating disorder hospital with me the last time I was there.  I will admit that when I was there, she scared me, because she looked so emaciated and because I couldn’t see her recovering.  Well, she’s proven me wrong.  She’s physically healthy and learning to thrive.

It taught me a lesson not to judge people, and I’ve always been the one to say, “No matter how long you’ve been sick you can still get better.”  Maybe two years ago I was just face-to-face with what could happen to me if I didn’t recover?  I don’t know.  But the beauty in this woman’s transformation is wonderful to see.

There is hope for you.  No matter how long or how sick you are.  No matter the number of relapses.  You can still learn to thrive.


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


  1. ALEXIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    WOW this makes me WHOLE DAY!!! I LOVE YOU! THANK YOU

    Comment by Lisa | November 5, 2009 | Reply

  2. I’m working toward this point myself. Although after about three months now of eating normaly when I try and restrict my body will not let me anymore. I have a body voice as well as an ED voice now. The body voice pretty much alway’s wins now.

    I hope to be at the point where ED thoughts are no longer there.

    Comment by David | November 5, 2009 | Reply

    • in the beginning stages of my recovery I also had a “body voice” that would prevent me from restricting. It was scary at first.
      But I like how you say your body has a voice now, too. Part of recovery is learning how to listen to that voice

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | November 5, 2009 | Reply

  3. I really like this post. And I like what David calles the Body Voice. Well said.
    I think a lot of therapists and social workers, ect, are/were of the school of thought that their patients/clients would never get over an eating disorder-that it can only be “managed.” (At least they used to.) I know I was told this early on in my treatment and it stuck for a long time. I remember thinking…”if I’m always going to have this in some form, why even bother?” And so I didn’t. But within the last 3 years, I have seen from others, and now from myself, that it doesn’t have to be something I manage. I don’t consider myself an anorexic in any way. And it feels great.

    Comment by unknownperson | November 5, 2009 | Reply

    • I think that doctors/therapists do a great disservice to their clients when they say that an eating disorder is a lifelong illness or can only be managed. Because you’re right, why bother trying if it’s always going to be there? It was only after I met someone who was fully recovered that I began thinking this was possible. And the last time I was in treatment, begging to be discharged, my amazing doctor told me, “You will be here a lot longer than you had planned, but you will never come back.” He had complete faith in me that I would kick this thing to the curb.

      he was right.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | November 5, 2009 | Reply

      • i actually appreciated hearing an honest perspective, but i agree, it depends on the way the message is delivered. i have heard that message and a few varieties of it, and it actually really depended on the way (specific words, judgements, etc) the message was delivered. at times immensely helpful because i have trouble trusting “those professionals” (don’t all ED people when they first meet them/enter treatment) and i came to another clinic after terrible experiences from another – which basically did me a huuuge disservice as i kept myself away from treatment with a “thousand foot pole” (as i called it) for a good ~4 years, suffering immensely for those years but never ever willing to try again because i had been so traumatized, until i got scared and to a point that (maybe?) could have been inevitable had i had a better prior experience.

        ANYWAY, point being is that that message of “this is chronic” really depends on how it is delivered. i can go on and give examples as to the wording various doctors have used with me (effects: trust, triggering, etc.) and the ways they impacted me, but i think i’ve rambled long enough and that you probably don’t care about specifics, but if you do i’ll be happy to share. 😉


        Comment by janie | November 5, 2009

      • oh yes, in a nutshell: being told “this” is a chronic problem = good (for me) because i think it’s honest and lets me trust the staff (for reasons that they show themselves contrary to the attitudes of the staff who so traumatized me). i appreciate honesty.

        being told “i” am chronic = bad. bad bad bad. triggering as fuck as i fall into a trap of simultaneous disbelief because i cannot rationalize the “person i am” with that picture of sickness, and at the same time triggering ED because the illness is sick and likes to hear that sort of thing. so it becomes a constant dissonance in my head.

        Comment by janie | November 5, 2009

      • one more thing: to specify that i have never actually been told to my face: “you are a chronic patient”. rather:
        (before i discharged myself early, lol) “are you looking at a model of chronic anorexia nervosa?” (yes those were her exact words and this was(is) actually a well known and respected scientist who i admire greatly, she was just being blunt/honest and trying to convey the facts, really it was an actual QUESTION that meant nothing more than her wanting to assess my motives to adequately answer my question about what would happen in the future, but yeah, method of delivery = not so great (i can’t take that seriously, let alone when they use the full name of the illness, lol it just sounds so ridiculous :p umm yeah..) anyway she’s just human/fallible (who would have thought?!)

        “they said i was chronic and i don’t think..”
        “well janie, you may not think like that but the papers paint a different picture..?” (said not so much in accusing tone but rather inquisitive/she was trying to do therapy with me.)

        “this is a problem that takes a long time, we are not going to cure you, rather we are going to help you, and i am confident that with the right help you can perhaps get better”. *WIN*

        if we want to move away from the twisted world of EDs and ED treatment, we can look at how other chronic illnesses are conceptualized. cancer as a chronic condition? chronic schizophrenia (and the shift from acute–>chronic in psychotic disorders, is actually very very very sad and depressing.) how are EDs different? something to think about.

        Comment by janie | November 5, 2009

  4. it actually made me shiver to think that you didn’t even THINK (let alone use) those coping mechanisms. i can only hope to get a place like you are at one day. (/cheesy but sincere). and that’s amazing about your friend. i have met others who i though “would never” and they have. …and then i never thought i’d ever be as (once) bad and chronically fucked as i am. ha. you can actually never tell.. but anyway, i’m sure i’ll be fine. /end digresion

    Comment by janie | November 5, 2009 | Reply

  5. This makes me smile.

    Comment by Andi | November 6, 2009 | Reply

  6. this makes me smile too!I am grateful to be alive and kickin- fighting and going strong ( Im too mean and onrey to let go with out a fight!)

    Lean heavy on HEALTHY coping skills- working on that still in theraphy- not ashamed!!
    HEY –

    What are some healthy coping skills for everyone? I am loving my knitting, flying kites on the beach with my daughter, reading again- movies and yoga. I had a friend who has shown me how to make handmade hair bows for little girls I would like to make some of those. Anything that keeps my hands and mind focused.

    PS you ALLLLL make me smile~~ Thank you to Alexis for giving us this wonderful way of communicating in a healthy loving safe way

    Comment by Lisa | November 6, 2009 | Reply

  7. i cannot put into words how much i love this entry and the statements you make. yes.yes.yes.

    Comment by Marisa | November 6, 2009 | Reply

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