Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Never My Friends


Every so often, when I’m scrolling through my facebook feed and see random blogs sponsored by an advocacy organization, I want to punch the screen of my laptop.  Don’t worry, I don’t do that.

Recently, I saw a blog detailing one writer’s recovery from Ana.  Not “anorexia.”  Not “eating disorder.” Not “life threatening illness.”  Ana.  I have friends named Ana.  They have faces and bodies and fashion styles and colored hair and hand gestures and quirks and a way of speaking that are different from my other friends.  None of them are trying to kill me.

But by using this cute nickname, this writer is referring to the years spent suffering from an illness and the strength and energy it took to recover.  For that, I admire her, just as I admire anyone who has recovered or has just made the decision to try recovery or is caught up in the hell of figuring out if recovery is possible.  (It is.)

I have seen too many friends die because of various eating disorders.  When I was still sick and had no real intentions of recovery, I brushed these deaths aside, as much as one can brush death aside.  “I only knew them for a couple of weeks in treatment,” or “She never really wanted recovery anyway,” or even, “I’m jealous.”  Then, some of the friends I made in treatment because “out of treatment” friends who I’d meet for coffee and hang out with and go to movies with.  A lot of these individuals are still my friends; we fought the eating disorders together.  Social media, of course, widened my network of friends with mental illnesses.  Some of these friends became close friends.  And a good percentage of them died. One of these friends, I think if we hadn’t met in treatment, became the closest thing to a soul sister I have encountered.  And she died.

I could no longer “brush death aside” with a casual wave of my hand.  These friends weren’t dying after a chance encounter with a stranger named “ana,” “mia,” or “ed.”  They died from an illness.  Over an extended period of time.  In a lot of physical and emotional pain.  I just can’t give those illnesses cute little names.

We give names to inanimate objects as a way of personalizing them.  They mean something to us, and we want to hold these things close to our heart.  Sometimes we name these objects or situations in an effort to make sense of them, and eating disorders rarely make sense.  But when you personalize something, it becomes harder to let go of.  And when you don’t use the true vocabulary of these illnesses (death, pain, feeding tube, throwing up, purging, isolation, obsession, compulsion, loneliness, depression, fear), it’s easier to forget the harsh consequences of knowing this “friend.”

Even ten years after recovery, I cannot look back and casually refer to my twenties with “Ana” anywhere in the description.  I was sick, and just like the cardiac illness I have is not cute and fun, neither was the eating disorder.  Would you nickname depression or bipolar disorder or suicide with cute names?  How about cancer?  How about stroke?  Then why do we consider eating disorders worthy of cute and fun?


February 12, 2018 Posted by | addictions, bipolar disorder, Body Image, coping, death, depression, Eating Disorders, exercise, guilt, health, heart, identity, progress, publicity, recovery, suicide, thinspo, treatment, triggers | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Same old thoughts enter new territory

***Warning:  I openly discuss gaining and losing weight, but no specific numbers are mentioned.***

This entry may be a bit scattered.  I wasn’t going to write it at all because it’s not in line with my general discourse, but I think more people need to talk about this because I know I’m not the only one in this place.  But admitting your unhappy with your body, that at times you even hate your body, goes against all the pro-recovery talk. 

And I am very much pro-recovery.  Having certain thoughts doesn’t cancel that out.  They may be contradictory, but I am learning the brain has the power to hold two contradictory thoughts at the same time.  The DBT “motto” is a good example:  You are doing the best you can.  You need to do better.  I used to get so pissed off when I heard that.  Now I understand it, and even remind myself of it from time to time.

SO.  I had a cardiology appointment yesterday, and I got weighed.  To be honest, I was hoping the number would have gone down.  Or at least stayed the same.  I did not expect it to go up a significant amount.  I honestly felt like crying right then and there.  But I didn’t.  And I managed to put my thoughts aside for the 2 1/2 hour drive home that included stop and go traffic through St Louis.  But when I got home, I admit I wasn’t as calm.  I was a bit panicky.  My general thought process at this point in time:

 I’ve been doing things to help me lose weight.   I wasn’t supposed to gain weight.  What the hell am I supposed to do?  I’m actually edging toward the overweight category for my size and frame.  I can’t let this happen.  This was never supposed to be like this.  I can’t exercise any more.  I thought I had cut out the right foods and added in fruits instead.  I know what would be easy to do but I really don’t want to go there.  ARGH!  I don’t know what to do!

Honestly, my way of coping was to cry, take an extra klonopin, go to bed early, and wake up and make bread from scratch.  There’s something calming about kneading dough. 

So why am I writing this?  My body is a wonderful thing.  It is strong and allows me to do things I couldn’t ever do when I was sick.  I’m healthy, which I never was when I was sick.  And, most of the time, I am much happier. 

I had two options for dealing with thoughts like this in the past.  The first was to deny them.  Numb them out–through starvation or self-harm or over-exercise.  The second was to purposely obsess about them and take extreme actions to “remedy” the problem. 

I am looking for the middle ground here.  I think it’s important to acknowledge when we are uncomfortable in our skin instead of just repeating some glib quote about how everything is wonderful now that I’m recovered.  yeah, it sounds good, but it’s not realistic.  These thoughts are here, and covering them up with some affirmation is not going to help them.  And I know beyond any little ounce of doubt that acting on these thoughts will only make them worse (Hurray! for progress!) 

We need a place to address fears such as the ones I’m having, to admit them, to allow them to be and to discuss ways of dealing with them in a healthy, realistic fashion.  Ignoring them isn’t healthy.  Acting rashly is equally unhealthy.  Maybe by acknowledging these thoughts, I can find the middle path.

August 16, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment