Nope, not referring to some dude I’ve met, a weird uncle, or the older guy at church. This is someone I’ve known for years: my eating disorder.
This may sound vaguely familiar for those of you who’ve been here since the very beginning. If not, you also may have heard this tactic of naming the eating disorder in the ED community (Jenni Schaeffer books, some treatment centers, etc.) Though I haven’t talked in terms of “Ed” for over 2 years, I did spend the first almost year of treatment doing so.
Forest View was adamant about Ed. We wrote letters to Ed, consistently talked that way in groups. It taught me to separate who I am from my eating disorder for the very first time. If I could see these thoughts weren’t me, that gave me fuel to fight. I needed that. I needed any ounce of motivation and tools to kickstart my recovery.
Naturally, I brought Ed along for the step-down to outpatient therapy. J was supportive of the usage and it helped create progress in discovering who I was beyond my illness. I often would write letters to Ed, sometimes thanking him, others of submission, and sometimes fighting like hell. I wrote up my divorce papers and signed them on December 3, 2014 (one year in recovery from self-harm as well). Whenever the eating disorder voice got loud in session she would respond with “Hello, Ed” to remind me who was really doing the talking.
I’m not sure I would have gotten through those early months had I not used such a drastic change in my view of the disorder.
It ended pretty abruptly when my greatest physical support at the time told me I should stop. She claimed it only was making my eating disorder bigger than it was and giving it more power. Anorexia wasn’t a person and didn’t deserve a name. I listened to her and told J that we no longer were using “Ed.” I trusted this woman so much then and I think that was the main reason I gave in to what she said. I honestly don’t know if that was the right decision or if it was for the right reason, but either way it did happen.
Fast forward to my very first meeting with L. As I later found out, she was a meal support at FV and worked with the “Ed” technique. I hadn’t referred to Ed in over 2 years, so it was a surprise when it came up in our conversation. Even more surprising, I went with it.
I talk and think about Ed every day. One of my assignments, alongside food diaries and thought logs, is to write a short letter to Ed each day. I’ve had many different responses to him. Sometimes I am angry and tell him how much I hate what he does to me. Others it’s the exact opposite with praise for his role in my life. A few days ago I had a very sarcastic passive-aggressive letter which I find hilarious. Lately I have had more positive ones since I am growing more into my behaviors and thoughts.. Regardless, how I feel about my anorexia isn’t as important as recognizing what it does to me.
Sessions with L are definitely a flashback to 2014. L will tell me that it’s Ed talking just as J did. She sees the contrast from my true self. At this point, the healthy part of me rarely gets a word in. It can be pretty surprising at times. I believe these thoughts completely, yet they are Ed thoughts and not mine. I’m thankful
I am giving this faceless disorder a name. I am taking away its power by separating out my voice, the real me. I need to use Ed to distinguish between me and it. I’m so thankful L has brought this back to my recovery.