Thursday, November 5, 2009


So during my sesh with W (the therapist) I was telling her that sometimes I wonder if I still have anorexia because I gots da issues, or because maybe I’ve just not eaten for so long and watched my weight, it’s more a habit and a lifestyle, and not because, you know, I’m mentally ill. She raised her eyebrows and asked if I reallllly believed that. And I said…maybe?

So she said, “So that means you’re pro-ana, right?”

What? Huh? Have you lost your candy wrapper? I'M NOT PRO-ANA!!

And then she said that she swore if my blog was pro-ana and if she found my writing on pro-ana websites, she’d kick my ass. And I laughed.

I swear I didn’t know that if I argued anorexia was a lifestyle and not a disease, that meant I was pro-ana. Huh. Apparently that’s like their whole mission statement or whatever. How did I not know this?

But do you think there is any merit at all to what I say? Don’t get me wrong – I think pro-ana websites are sick and wrong. I think giving others tips on how to lose weight quickly and drastically, yet proclaiming that they want people to stay safe and healthy, is twisted. I do not visit these sites. So therefore, I ‘spose it’s safe to assume I truly didn’t know what they really believed. Really honest I didn’t.

But sometimes, I do wonder, that even if I got over all my “issues” and loved myself ‘n stuff, would the instinct to watch my weight and restrict still be there? Truthfully I can’t imagine it not being there. And that doesn’t mean I want it there – I’d love to have those compulsions be gone gone gone far away. I’m only saying that imagining them being gone, actually not being a part of my life; seems so elusive, so ethereal. So delicious, but farfetched. Know what I mean?

So I guess that’s my question. Wait what is my question? Oh yes. Is there value to what I say? That anorexia/bulimia/other ED’s can become a knee-jerk reaction in life, almost like blinking, or do you really believe that if you could handle stress and anxiety and love yourself, the urge to engage in [insert your ED] would diminish?

Don’t call me a naysayer. I’m just wonderin’.


Eating Alone said...

I think that if I truely did love myself and could cope with stessors in a healthy way there would be no ED voice. Seriously what kind of mind is it that say's "I can't deal with my boss yelling at me. That mean's that I should not be allowed to eat the rest of the day."

Just my 2 cents.

Healthy might be "Ok my boss is yelling at me, I need to work on this and skip luch right now." Then eat after you finish if your hungry.

Courtney said...

This is a really good question, and frankly one I've thought a lot about myself. I could seriously write a novel here (and a very hypocritical one too) but for your sake I'll try not to.

I think in some ways you're right--our habits become so deeply ingrained that even if the original triggers (like emotional problems, anxiety, lack of coping skills, trauma, etc) are gone we still keep doing what we do because we're "used" to it. The problem is that even if our motivations for doing something aren't the same, the consequences are.

I think one of the hardest stages in recovery is when you're out of the "danger zone" but not necessarily at optimal "health" (plus, who can really define that anyway?). It's easy to justify that things are fine and overlook the fact that being slightly to moderately underweight and occasionally engaging in "some" behaviors can still lead to greater anxiety, depression, fatigue, health probs, etc. Maybe for some people it really doesn't--they can be perfectly healthy and underweight. I think only we can truly judge where our body functions best, yet unfortunately we're also the ones who tend to be distorted.

I think if we truly love ourselves and know we can handle any amount of stress and anxiety we won't be afraid to give full recovery a chance. Even if it means saying, "I'm going to do an experiment and get to the weight that those around me are recommending and give it 6 months or a year and see how I feel. If it really doesn't help I can always go back." It seems like if something's purely habit (rather than a way to cope with emotions and anxiety) then there would be less resistance to breaking the habit.

That's where I get stuck. I still have a LOT of resistance when it comes to breaking my habits. Plus, I spend so much time trying to find ways to deal with and reduce my anxiety that doing something that would create MORE anxiety seems so counter-intuitive! But lately I've been wondering if I'm missing out on lots of stuff just because I always try to swim with one foot out of the water.

Ok, this really did turn into a novel, sorry! :) You've probably heard this all before and it may be zero help to you but just writing this has helped me a TON so thanks!

Steph said...

Have you ever read The Voice of Knowledge by Don Miguel Ruiz? If not I highly recommend that you read it. It helps you to understand the voice in your head, where the judgments come from, and how to stop speaking against yourself. It comes in both book and audio so whatever your style you can get through it. Hope you enjoy it and it helps you out!

allegri said...

I feel ya babe. Part of me thinks mine will never be gone, that it was so long engraved into my life that it was truly my best friend. I want it gone, I want to be free of always yearning to weight myself when I see a scale, or judge myself off of those pweny 6foot tall girls in size 00 jeans. I hate it. I want to be physically capable to have a child. I want to be respected and not the sick broken kate. I keep screaming and yelling and pounding down that ED voice, but its still their, it whispers to the core of my being because it know exactly what to say to hurt me to make me feel like I am a whale.

I want it gone. Forever. I pray for both you & I and "Eating Alone" beca demonus use together, we can all be healed and that little voice will diminish.

brie said...

hey, thanks you three for the replies. steph, i'm going to reserve that book at the library, thanks for the suggestion. :)

courtney, as always, you have so much insight, and thanks for sharing. you're right that even if we feel our motivations for engaging in our ed are different, the outcome is still the same. that's food for thought (no pun intended haha...)

Heather Lindquist said...

Hmmm. I've thought the same thing over the years. My mind is all cluttered right now, but I really like what Courtney said.

Will said...

I work with addictions all the time and think your T took what you were saying the wrong way. Has she ever been through an addiction herself?
Anyone who has will tell you (even if they've been in recovery for years) there are always habits that seem familiar and would be easy to get back into. A recovering alcoholic for example will have a hard time avoiding social situations where others are drinking. Although they may know it's off limits and know they wouldn't go back to that behavior- there is still a emotional/even physical trigger when it is there.
Any food addiction (or avoiding) is tricky b/c and alcoholic can CHOOSE to stay away from any situation with drinking but you need food in your daily life. There will always be the part of you who instantly thinks of calories.
It's learning to ignore that voice and the voice may always be there but it will be very quiet and at some point (hopefully) easy to turn your back on.

Melissa said...

I can see your point. I definitely dont think its purely black and white - either its a disease or a lifestyle. I definitely think that some habits are hard to break. And I could see the whole, after the mental issues are done with there still being the habit. But you could argue the other way too.

Steph said...

I actually own it and would be happy to loan it to you. However I did read your post about the library fines. HAHAHA! Kidding you are welcome to it. I can mail it to you or drop it off in a neutral location so you aren't creeped out. I know you don't know me at all so let me know what you are comfortable with.

Alexandra Rising said...

I was so ready to respond..but you've already gotten so many interesting responses!
Ill be brief: Just because you have hard time imagining shaking habits that have been so ingrained in you for so long, doesn't mean you are a proponent of them. You can't quite imagine life without them, because you don't remember what that life is like. The difference with the "pro-ana" that they don't want to imagine life with out the disorder. You WANT life without it, you just cant quite picture what that would be like or how it will happen. These individuals are to life without ED as PETA individuals are to life without Veganism. ...if that makes any sense. They think it is a CHOICE or desirable lifestyle, they don't think the negatives are negative.
Oyy, am I making sense?
We often hear, "No one ever truly covers from an eating disorder". I hate that statement, but I kind of believe it. Sure, you can regain your weight...and you can develop healthier views about food and eating...but I can't imagine someone who has been so sick, who has starved themselves...I cant imagine them ever truly 100% shedding that voice. They may appear to be better, but I'm sure that punishing voice still lives somewhere deep within them. [I always think of Tracey Gold, when I think of this. Once again, am I weird? She just...seemed to be the original poster-girl for eating disorders...and today, while she appears healthy, I cant help but wonder: is there still something nagging deep within her?]

...that last sentence was too Carrie Bradshaw for me. "That night I couldn't help but wonder.."
I'm going to end here, because I'm not sure if I am making sense.

Interesting and thought-provoking post!

Alexandra Rising said...

Ha, "Ill be brief"-Alex. One novel of a comment later...

Maeve said...

I've been thinking a lot about this post, and frankly about how to post a comment that makes sense without touching on touchy subjects.

The sad truth is, I believe that one can never be free of an eating disorder. This isn't to say I don't think recovery is possible, I do think you can redefine your relationship with the disorder so that YOU'RE in charge and the disorder cannot hurt you. But the eating disorder never goes away.

The reason I believe this is because I don't think you can ever unlearn things. Once you have the knowledge, the physical understanding, it can never go away. To me to erase an eating disorder would be like erasing the knowledge of how to walk or talk. It can't be done.

I don't want this to be pessimistic, because I do think that eating disorders can be conquered.

And I agree with the person who said your shrink took your comment the wrong way. I ADORE your blog, at least in part, because there is NOTHING pro-ana about it.

Krystle said...

I've wondered the same things....

And you are so NOT pro ana.


Sarah said...

I used to feel like you did, but my voice goes away for long periods of time during the day now. I am starting to change my viewpoint that maybe there is such a thing called "full recovery." I'll update you when and if I get there. I would say that you should try to keep believing that there is a life outside of it, because I am getting closer and closer to that place myself and never thought I could.

The key for me has been finding the courage (or being GIVEN the courage, really) to believe that even IF I have to hear that voice for the rest of my life, I value other things far more than my ED and will choose not to engage in it. I really don't think you can engage in both an eating disorder and living well, and honestly if the rest of my life would be stuck in an ED, I wouldn't want that life. I've chosen to pursue a life without an ED, because even if I have to hear the voice and feel the pain of resisting it, at least I don't have to feel the pain of actually giving in and that...nothingness and numbness that is an ED. Make sense?

Cammy said...

I had an eerily similar conversation with my therapist yesterday. She didn't use the term "pro", but she basically told me that I was using the session to argue about why I don't need to let go of my ED. "It is just what I do, I don't make the decision every day, it's just default at this point so maybe it's not pathological." She blew holes through that. I think that being in between recovered and dangling from the death cliff can be very tough, because you can judge your current status with your past/worse one, and use that as justification to stay complacent with something less than fully regaining your life.

Remember, sometimes it is hard to realize how much the ED is still in control when we have forgotten how to live any other way. Now seems fine because we've forgotten what we're missing out on. You have a new member of the family coming and you deserve to ENJOY the hell out of life, Ms. Brie, please don't make yourself compromise.

Laura said...

the voices of ED never go away
what does, however, are how you choose to respond to them