Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

It’s your choice

it's all about choices by *light-from-Emirates (

So I don’t think this is going to be one of my most popular posts.  And please do not think it’s directed at any one person.  It’s just something I’ve been noticing in general lately, and I’m starting to lose patience.  And I feel bad about that.

What I’ve been noticing from a significant number of people with eating disorders on facebook: a lot of people are complaining about their current treatment or their lack of treatment, but when anyone leaves a comment with a suggestion of where to go, what to look for, alternatives that could help–the person in the complainer’s seat gets angry at the people trying to help.  And sometimes flat out states that they are going to give up, that there is no hope.  Even though ten people might have left comments with helpful suggestions.

I wish the picture had the words, “Life” and “death” but “love” and “hate” also work, if you think of it in terms of love towards oneself equalling Love and hate equalling death.

I know that none of us chose to have an eating disorder.  Even those of us who thought it might be nice to lose a couple of pounds and had that turn into full-blown anorexia or bulimia, we didn’t choose this hell.

But.  At some point, you are going to have to make a choice to either stay in that hell or leave.  You have to make the choice about whether or not you want to recover.  No one can make you.  Sure, someone can make you gain weight, but we all know how things go when you get discharged and set your mind on losing that weight again.  Wanting to get better is a choice that has to be made by each individual.  And everyone comes to that decision at a different point in their lives.  But there does come a point where continuing with the eating disorder is a choice you are making.  When people around  you are reaching out with suggestions and support and encouragement and you slap each one away and come up with excuses why each suggestion just won’t work, you are making a choice to stay stuck.

No one ever said that making the choice to get better is easy.  It’s scary.  It’s downright terrifying.  And it’s a hell of a lot of extremely difficult work.  I’ve seen people recover by going IP, I’ve seen people recover by working with their OP team, and I’ve seen people recover who have access to no treatment at all.  The first four times I was on an EDU, I had no intention of getting better.  And I relapsed immediately.  So I understand the difficulty in making this decision.  The fear, the uncertainty, the confusion. . . I get it.  I’ve been there.

Here’s where I’ve also been:  at the graveside of someone who has died from an eating disorder.  I’ve lost over ten real-time friends to these illnesses.  And hardly a week goes by on facebook, where I don’t hear of another death.

Maybe it’s my depression talking, but lately, I’ve wanted to walk away from it all.  Stop supporting people, encouraging them and offering help only to be met with a rebuff and stories about why everything is impossible and there’s no point in trying anymore.  Do you know what it feels like to have someone tell you they are going to stop trying?  It’s like a knife stab to the gut.  Do you know how much I want to drive cross country to visit a couple of handfuls of people and shake them and tell them that it’s not pointless until you stop trying?  Do you know how scary “I’m giving up” is to hear?  To go to bed and wonder if that person will be alive the next day?  I am so tired of funerals and memorials and R.I.P groups on facebook.

And before anyone throws the term at me, I DO feel hypocritical for feeling this way.  Because I, too, was once stuck in the disorder and refused to take steps to get better.  MY friends wanted to walk away from me, and some of them did, because they were afraid they were watching me die.

I honestly think I’m more understanding of the people still fully stuck in their eating disorders, not even considering recovery, than I am  understanding of the people who tell me they want to get better and reject everything that could help them get there.

So yes, hurl the insults my way for being insensitive and for not understanding where people are coming from.  But remember I went through it too.  Remember that I have watched people slowly die from these illnesses and that the pain doesn’t lessen with each subsequent death.  Remember that I still dream about girls that have died, only to wake up to the realization that I never will hear them laugh again, that all it ever can be is a dream.

The eating disorder was not a choice.  Recovery is.  And I will support every single step you take towards recovery.  And I will grieve each time you choose a path that takes you further away from recovery.


June 4, 2010 - Posted by | death, Eating Disorders, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. This IS actually one of my favorite posts you’ve written.
    I almost don’t have words, because you said how I feel quite perfectly.
    There comes a point when recovery is a choice. I don’t know how to define that point, but it’s there.

    Thanks for always supporting my recovery, Alexis. You were so incredibly helpful in the weeks leading up to my leaving for Selah, while, and after I was there, reminding me that I was doing the right thing, encouraging me to stay as long I needed.
    It makes me cry every time I think about my friends and family who cried because they thought I was going to die- we don’t have to fear that anymore, and it’s flipping fabulous.

    Comment by Mindy | June 4, 2010 | Reply

  2. “At some point, you are going to have to make a choice to either stay in that hell or leave. You have to make the choice about whether or not you want to recover. No one can make you.”

    I love this post, and it is so true. We had an mfg at iop in radnor and we all wrote down things we wanted others (family/friends/peers) to know, or questions we had. I wrote in huge print, “having an eating disorder is not a choice, but recovery is. by choosing your eating disorder when help is available, you are actively choosing to stay sick.” I’m no where near perfect, so I might be a hypocrite for writing this, but it sometimes makes me angry when people who could have some access to help chooses to reject it, especially since I’ve fought so hard to get even minimal coverage. It’s upsetting to see people given the opportunity to go to ip/residential tx centers that are covered by insurance, and are fighting it or not taking it seriously, when I would KILL for my insurance to cover something like that.

    Sorry for rambling…

    Comment by Katie D | June 4, 2010 | Reply

  3. I agree alexis, and you’ve done so much already to support people and you have to take care of yourself somtimes! I also agree that I didn’t choose anorexia, I was a little girl at the time and didn’t even know at the time that it was an eating disorder to many years later…but in the end it had to be me that decided to end the Eating disorder. Its still a battle day to say whether or not to act on the eating disorder thoughts, but you are right, I have to choose whether or not to act. There comes a time when you have to decide whether you want the eating disorder or recovery, I want recovery and the life I can have….

    Comment by Cheryl | June 4, 2010 | Reply

  4. As Mindy said- I AGREE that this was one of my favorite posts that you have made. I honestly always wonder how you are able to continue to stay in touch and interact with others that are downright not trying at all. I have gone from feeling extremely frustrated and fed up like you have expressed in this post to feeling exteremly bad for the individual etc. When I was sick I wanted to help EVERYONE and save everyone but myself.Then after I got out of treatment and was in recovery I felt bitter that others could resort back to their ED and go back to treatment. Now I have come to a sort of peace/grey area/happy medium or whatever you may want to call it. I do keep my distance with individuals that are wallowing in their own eating disorder- that may have been in and out of treatment a million times and continue to struggle and complain but take no action. I keep my mouth shut now and I remind myself that is their choice. I just ignore the issue. Maybe that is not the best thing to do but I feel like continuing to encourage someone or give those individuals (I have been there too) feds into their eating disorder one way or the other so instead I give their eating disorder NO ATTENTION (unless of course it was a good friend of mine from school). I do continue to encourage and support those that are “new” to the disorder and are unaware of their issues but I do lose patients and some understanding for those that have been in treatment for years and have the ability and self-awareness to realize that they have that choice. One last thing, I do believe that some people do need a certain level of care or what not to recover just as I believe I would not have been able to recover had I not had my experience inpatient. Yet at the same time I now for the most part have gained the insight to know the difference between right and wrong-ED and Health. Although it is a great skill to have and something invaluable to learn it also comes with the cost of having to take ownership for your own recovery and actions. Ok I think I rambled way too much. I hope I made sense. I did not read over this.

    Comment by Jessica | June 4, 2010 | Reply

    • Jessica, I have come to a place where I’ve realized I have limits. That my emotional energy is not infinite. Believe it or not, I have tried to stop caring so much at various points, and I never seem to be able to. Some people have said this is one of my strongest characteristics and sometimes I have felt it to be my weakest, because it does take a lot of emotional energy. And, like you, when I was at my worst, I would have done anything and everything for someone else all while ignoring my own pain. I don’t think we are the only two to do so either. So I’ve come to this peace/grey area/happy medium where I continue to care just as much as before, but I reign in my actions and words. I don’t put myself out there as much with people who don’t seem to want it. I guess I’ve learned to conserve my emotional energy.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | June 4, 2010 | Reply

    • “I feel like continuing to encourage someone or give those individuals (I have been there too) feds into their eating disorder one way or the other so instead I give their eating disorder NO ATTENTION”

      I know exactly what you mean – when a lot of people express concern it “pleases” (for lack of a better word) the ED in that it validates that they are “sick enough”, and the sicker the get, the more attention they get, which only feeds into the ED more. But as you said, so many people – including myself – have been there to some extent. I did feel validated when doctors expressed concern, and subsequently I feared health b/c I was worried that I would be abandoned and lose support. So good for you (and Alexis) for doing the harder thing – not indulging other people’s EDs through expressions/actions of concern when it is only disregarded by the person, even though it’s hard to refrain from doing that. And good for you for taking care of yourselves, and putting your own emotional health first, which can be really hard to do.

      (I hope I’m making sense too, as my meds are kicking in 😛

      Comment by anon | June 4, 2010 | Reply

  5. And Katie I also agree completely with what you said- I think I do have an increased bitterness because it was so difficult for me to actually get the treatment I deserved and needed so when I see people take treatment lightly or like camp I get very upset because I knew that my one time inpatient would be the only chance I would have since it nearly broke my family apart due to our dysfunctional dynamics.

    Comment by Jessica | June 4, 2010 | Reply

  6. For what it’s worth, I think this is one of the best posts in this blog. It’s important to acknowledge the frustration and desire to shake sense into people that can accompany (mostly, reasonably, somewhat comfortably) stable recovery. We keep the ties from treatment because they are people who accepted us at our worst, people we’ve laid it all bare in front of, so to speak, but when you realize you’ve continued to put one foot in front of the other and just DO IT ALREADY, seeing someone else making a different choice can be infuriating. There have been so many times I’ve wanted to get on a plane for the sole purpose of punching someone in the face. Obviously I don’t. Like you, I’ve learned where I can invest myself and where I may as well not.
    Again, this is a great post. Thank you for it.

    Comment by michelle | June 4, 2010 | Reply

  7. I really liked this post too. It’s scary for me to make a choice because I am an ambivalent person who lacks confidence, but at the same time, knowing I can choose to leave the Hell of an eating disorder is empowering. And that’s something I did. My treatment team and support system helped me, but ultimately, I chose, and I ended up doing something for the better. Thank you.

    Comment by gainingandgrowing | June 5, 2010 | Reply

  8. This is my favorite post you have written. I was brought to tears after the first paragraph and am still trying to dry them up. I am going through the exact same thing right now with a LOT of my friends right now. I also feel so hypocritical for feelin upset by the people who are stuck becasue I was also there for a long time and still feel like i’m there some days. It’s so hard to deal with friends who say they want to be better, but then reject the helpful advice you offer. Even though it is never meant to be a personal stab in the back it feels like it is. I don’t think there’s an easy way to deal with the problem though, i think it is an inate part of eating disorders that may never go away. I am pretty sure I am going to lose my sister, my best friend in the entire world, to her eating disorder, within this year, and she is saying these exact kinds of things to me as well. I don’t have any advice on this one, but I feel for you Lexi, I’m right there with you.

    Comment by Nikita | June 5, 2010 | Reply

  9. I thought your post was amazing.


    Comment by J | July 6, 2010 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: