Monday, September 10, 2012

Isn't it Time to be Angry?

A guest post from an appropriately angry patient

Was it 1 year or 2 years ago we last met? I really can't tell you. But I clearly remember how I felt seeing her. I wanted to feel her emotion, to hear her move from passivity and hopelessness. I believed in her ability to fight this thing--this bulimia turned anorexia-- to get out of her own way, but I'm not so sure she had the same belief then.

Now she's coming back, and in anticipation of our session, she's indulging me--and you-- with some passion. She's angry, appropriately so--and I'm thrilled. Yes, it's time to direct that anger toward recovery.

Shannon's Recovery Survival Kit

You don't want to recover for a very simple reason: you're scared. You're scared of life, growth, feelings, worries, people, rejection, change, and you're hiding away from it all. Your ED is driving you into a morgue and you're letting it, because you're too scared to fight back.

Recovery doesn't make people 'too fat'. Recovery makes people the way they were supposed to be, and much happier than they would have ever been with an eating disorder.

New perspective: you are not terrified of gaining weight. You wish more than anything to just get the weight gaining part over and done with and to forget this ever happened to you, to leave it all behind, to be 'normal'.  You want your shape back, your health back, your life back.

What to do? Relax. Honestly. Take a massive deep breath and then use the worst swear word you can towards your eating disorder for making you this way. F*!@# it all. Really, really hate your disorder for a moment.

There'll always be a 'reason' to give up on recovery; don't fall for the trap.

I'm so, so sorry you had to suffer so badly. Remember, that those thoughts and impulses are false. False. You do not deserve a single second of that bullshit; those thoughts have grown in your scared mind at a time of vulnerability and you've come to accept them as truth; the thoughts of 'I'm fat, I'm a failure, I'm disgusting'. These thoughts were built on your deepest doubts - therefore, they are false as they have no actual basis.

Fall down seven times, stand up eight. You're a fighter. You're a winner. Be the winner in this battle. You deserve every last little bit of your life back, which your ED has stolen from you. Fight for it. Your ED is right old bastard for causing you to have self-harm urges; hate it all the more for it. You're perfect and wonderful and nobody should ever have to go through this hell. I love you, and know that I'm here - don't give up now. Xxx

Gaining weight = gaining bone, gaining muscle, gaining fat, gaining flesh, gaining mind, gaining self, gaining you. Gaining weight does not = becoming fat, becoming ugly, becoming hated, becoming out of 'control', becoming lazy, becoming stupid.


You may like your body like this for now, but you'll love your real body even more. This isn't the way yours, or anybody's, body was meant to be. You like it in a sick, disordered way; you know that feeling of seductive, poisonous relief when you can touch your skeleton and know you're too small? That feeling, this feeling of liking your body slowly burning away into bone, bone, skin, pure, bone, is the thing that will destroy you and drive you into your grave by the end of the year, if you let it. Don't let it.

Your disorder is like a Venus flytrap. It lures you in with its promise if skinnybonecontrolperfectionbeautylovehappinessthin, and you're so absorbed by the lies of it all that, when it finally snaps shut and destroys you, it's too late. There's that final panic at the end of 'wait-no-no-I-was-kidding', but it's too late, and then you die a very painful and lonely death.

Don't let yourself be lured in. You know how this ends. Stay strong, love, and don't believe a single thought you think of liking your bones.

Never be scared of gaining weight. Gaining weight means growth. Gaining weight means repair, and life. Gaining weight means breaking free. To be able to gain weight and not feel guilty at all - that's an amazing feeling.

Here's the trouble; that you think skinny is good. Sure, it's good for now, but the rush of weight-loss is very addictive, and will be nearly impossible to resist. It's impossible to maintain an underweight weight that's unnatural for your body, and be simultaneously recovered. (I tried to be 'recovered' when I was underweight for a very long time. It just doesn't work.) If you're having to count calories and/or exercise to 'keep your weight down', then the weight that you're at is simply not right for your body, and this is something you'll have to accept. Not accepting this will only lead to more intense body hate, low self-esteem and, ultimately, an eating disorder.

Undo the lies you believe. Challenge the shit out of all those thought; skinny girls are not better, happier people. They are just - people. People like you with insecurities, fears, worries. These things do not go away if you reduce your body mass.

You cannot recover by 'exercising and eating healthy'. End. You need to be able to let your body gain weight, gain fat, and eat the foods you never thought you could. You need to do the thing that seems 'lazy', and 'fattening', and 'bad', and let your body take that much-needed rest and feed it with little bits of everything.

Ultimately, you want to be able to eat anything without anxiety and to miss 'exercise time' without anxiety. The true aim of recovery is flexibility and acceptance towards yourself, no matter what you ate or how much you exercised; if your exercise and eating habits are encouraging the opposite, then you know you need to stop.

I've been told so many times that 'relapse is normal'.

Immediately, the disordered side of me became ecstatic.

Relapsing is normal! F*@#!ing yes, let's relapse! If I don't relapse, I'll be a bad anorexic, because everyone relapses. So let's plan a relapse baby -

You get the idea.

What that saying should really be is:

Relapsing is 'normal', just like tripping up is normal.

However! You wouldn't trip up on purpose, just because 'oh, it happens'. (It would just hurt, and not do you any good.)

Don't let your ED tempt you into relapse, just because 'it happens'. That's gonna hurt too, and definitely won't do you any good.

Did you honestly like your body when it was at a low BMI last time? No! You despised it. Our bodies will never be enough for our eating disorders. Not thing enough, toned enough, anything enough.

EDNOS is a real eating disorder, just as serious as anything else. BED is a real eating disorder, just as serious as anything else. All disordered eating is serious and potentially deadly, and extremely damaging. If you are suffering to any extent, you deserve help.

Your ED will never let you be merely thin.

Your ED will never let you stop.

Your ED wants you to be a skeleton.

A skeleton. Pure bone. Pure white. Pure.

No skin, no fat, no organs, no heart, no you.

Your ED is an uncontrollable monster.

It will drive you to your death, if you let it;
don't you dare let it. You are worth more.

If you go with your ED, you will fail. There is nothing good down there.

In the end, you will either die, or recover.

Choose wisely.

If the disordered side of you got excited at the 'pure, pure, bone' part; you know ED is f*!@#ing with your mind and heart.

I hate it. I hate all of it. I hate eating disorders. They turn us into monsters.

F*!@# YOUR ED. Live the live you were born to live.

Please share your feedback on this awesome post.
Thanks, Shannon, for sharing.


  1. A very wise therapist specializing in ED once said to me, "Anger is energy." Oh, yes. The energy here is raw, brutally honest, determined.
    I reiterate Lori's thanks to Shannon. Know you have people, even those you've never met, rooting for you - for the rich, full, healthy life you deserve.

  2. Really interesting and powerful. Funny as speaking as someone who comes from the fat end of eating disorders the goal is different - mine was to hide, yours to be pure - but the fuel is the same - denial of the self. Let's both chuck that crap away hey? X

  3. I hate that I put lettuce away because I am afraid my salad is too big. I hate that I am now weight restored but I am terrified to stray at all from my "safe" eating plan. I hate that I drive myself into the ground with exercise because that is the only way I can justify eating. I hate that I feel like people are judging me and that I have to always leave food on my plate so I don't look like a pig. I hate it all but I am too afraid to stop.

    1. The first step is hating it all. The next step is to inch toward seeing that your worse fears don't come true as you break your own rules. Set a limit on your exercise by scheduling it when you have less time, or choose a less intense activity to start. That is, if you are medically stable enough to be exercising at all. See this older post on exercise, too:

  4. I really enjoyed reading this post, even though if I kind of disagree, yet agree with it. I DO like my body this way. I don't like my body with more on it. I'm not trying to fool myself by saying that, it's true. There's a lot more I could say, but I'm stopping myself.

  5. I don't know. No offense intended to the author, because this is very well written, but it induced a series of eye rolls in me. All that stuff about you'll die, yadda yadda? I don't freaking care.

    I DO feel better this way. It is the only thing which makes a sizeable dent in my severe, treatment-resistant depression and anxiety. I have drive, energy, spark and provided you don't step between me and my ED, I'm even a nicer person. In other words, I am ME again.

    So screw it. I deserve relief from depression.

    1. To PTC and Anonymous: Yes, your mind can mess with you and fear can even convince you that this life you're living is a good one. You can get so used to the bad state you're in that it seems just fine. Unfortunately, it often takes renourishment before you are even aware of just how bad off you really are. Perhaps reading blogs like this will give you a bit of insight that there really is a way out and that you do deserve much better. There are better ways to manage anxiety and deal with depression and life's difficulties--even if you haven't yet experienced this.

  6. Wow, thank you so much. I really needed to read this. I have been in higher levels of treatment and now once again need to regain some weight lost and ED is very loud. This was encouraging to read and I believe it!

  7. Thank you to the writer of this post for giving voice to my thoughts. I am glad, like Lori said, that you are angry. It shows that you know that you deserve more and better. You (and me) deserve a life that is free from the binds of this horrid disease. We deserve to fill our brain with thoughts of pleasure and hobbies and caring about ourselves and others. We dont deserve the obsessive counting, checking, weighing, searching out bones, exercising, guilt, insanity of wanting everything and nothing all at once. We have to remind ourselves, contrary to what ED tells us and to what we even grow to believe, that this is NOT the life we want, the life we deserve, normal, or ok. Even those readers that said they feel "good" this way ... of course you deserve relief, but you also deserve health - mental and emotional. And dont let Ed or yourself fool you into thinking you can have both. Ed and health do not live in the same body. And if you really dont care that you could die, then perhaps depression is still lurking in your life. Recovery is impossibly hard! But I hear it is possible so I am going to believe that and keep working...supposedly I am worth it! ;)

    1. I couldn't have said it better myself! Thanks!

  8. This made me cry. So powerful. Comining out of a relapse and it was so something I needed to read.

  9. Shannon has been my friend for years now though I am much older than she is and far into my recovery. I see how far she has come and the change in her perception of herself and life. She has much to live for. Stay angry, it IS powerful. Let it guide you through the depths of your ED and pull you up out and over to breathe again. Life can be so much more peaceful and awareness can be of the beauty and fullness that is so there for you. Step out of your mind.
    I send my love and perhaps inspiration to all of you and accept yours for myself. We are strong when we join together. xxx

  10. My...Thank you for sharing your incredibly powerful, brave soul-baring post..You have done more than you know to provide those of us in a similar "place"..that anger has its place...if it is used as a wake-up call to resist the sirens of ED and to reach out towards "normalcy" elusive or foreign as that seems.

    I am struggling to pull myself out of a personal relapse (so in agreement about the anorexic reaction to "relapse is normal"!..We so latch onto this as an "excuse" to stay in the anorexic identity we have established for if it were our "job" to stay within those sick guidelines and keep "the label"...for fear of (re) discovering joy and thinking outside of the tiny, isolating box that IS the reality of an eating disorder. For myself, I realise more and more that Ed removes any forward motion..mental, but over the years..physical as well. It stops one from having to fully inhabit one's world. It is evasion ..of life...of realities, responsibilities...everything. It is deciding that truly living is too difficult or we "retreat" to what we know..what we do best...Focusing on something as "minute" as to how far our ribs stick out..or whether we can encircle our thighs with our two hands touching is far easier than thinking about our futures, family and the world "out there". This retreat is decidedly a form of depression, an illness and we need to acknowledge, accept and seek help from those who are able and willing to..before it is too late.

    Thank you Lori, for providing Shannon's powerful message, which, I am certain, has touched many.

    1. Yes, her words are quite powerful--as are yours in response! Hope this motivates you and others toward health.