“I hate everyone who has an eating disorder!”
I find myself saying this over and over in therapy and sometimes to other people. Why do I hate them? I have one!
I found that I hate this “eating disorder” community so much, that I want to get away from it in any way possible. How can you hate people for something they have?
There is a secret language in the eating disorder community that many won’t admit to. They will agree while reading this post, and then deny it once the reading has stopped. Some, under a guise, may comment on my post and agree that this has happened, or others, in denial and wanting to defend the language, will comment stating that none of this is true. We all fall somewhere.
Skinny camp (partial hospitalization) wasn’t easy. Here is what I found: This language of trying to “get to know” other people, was really something that sized you up (haha. pun intended) to see how much “street cred” you have. The caring questions of “what disorder you have” or “how long you’ve had it” and “how many times have you been through treatment” are simply to place you in a category. They are to find out how much credit you deserve. You know it, and I know it.
Then comes the questions of whether or not you’ve been hospitalized. Seems like people want to know what we’ve been through, and how hard this road is…. Nope…. They want to know if you’re stronger with your eating disorder than they are. There is a statement, or an awkward pause, that comes after if you answer “No”… oh, that means you were apparently NOT as sick as others. And for those who were inpatient for suicidal thoughts — apparently they do not have as much cred as those who had some type of medical emergency. The statements of : “she was just in because she tried to kill herself” or “she was just in there for a week” tell others how “bad ass” she is with her eating disorder.
Here comes my favorite — somewhere in discussion they will slip in their weight. This is either when the therapist leading is in the bathroom, before or after group, or when you become friends on facebook (cause you all know you do in treatment even though it is frowned upon). That is where the real dance happens. They try to sound insightful though, “When I was _____lbs and on a feeding tube, my parents forced me into treatment.” It sounds so honest, heartbreaking and scary (I wouldn’t know because I’ve never had a feeding tube….. oh snap! She said it! Street cred down just a little…. So sad…. I’m now LESS of an anorexic than the one next to me).
Really these comments sound honest and therapeutic because she’s opening up, but it’s flaunting. It’s flaunting how low your weight was, how terrible your vitals were, how sick you were… oh but more importantly….. how much you accomplished! How good you were at your eating disorder!
Does a therapist see this? I don’t know. Can they hear our language? I’m not sure. I am fluent in it – and we all are the first time we meet another ED person. We learn the language fast and clear based on our first interactions with people as they try to find out who we were.
Oh- I wish I could describe all the looks I got when I explained that I was not inpatient….. oh – there she goes again people! 🙂
Part of me thinks that the therapists don’t know this language or see what is going on; maybe the really good ones do. I’m not sure.
Is this language even able to go extinct? Probably not. This language exists because we are in competition with ourselves, and then in turn, others as well. Most importantly – we are IN the ED and want to stay in it.
I think I’ve figured out which ED persons I hate…. They are the ones who speak the language fluently and all the time. They are the ones who perpetuate their sickness by trying to speak that language at possible moment they can. They treat it like it’s high school French… if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. They can’t stop talking in that language and bring the topics up. They go out for “coffee” and want to constantly hang out to feed the desire to keep speaking the language more freely. These are the people who want nothing more than to keep talking about what their eating disorder does for them.
There are people who speak the language of health, or WANT to speak the language of health (but maybe don’t know how yet). Those people pull away from everyone else. They disconnect and want out of the world so badly. They try to pull away from the sick language so they can “lose it”. Those people do exist.
So, does my irritation for these people help me? No, probably not. I’ve learned I have to turn that hate out and simply feel sorry for those people. And really, I don’t hate them…. I hate the disorder that they are stuck in, and what it has done to their lives. There are some who are so stuck in it, and don’t want out, so they won’t get out. It doesn’t matter what you say, they just want to speak that language because they want to know more and more where they stand in the ED world. I feel sorry for them.
Sometimes it’s hard walking this path of recovery. We all walk at our own pace. It’s hard because sometimes there are people walking slower than you or faster than you. Some people have relapses that last longer or shorter. Sometimes there are people who are farther ahead of us, and sometimes there are none directly in front of us.
Although this is a very individual disorder, I do think it is our duty to share our knowledge and learning; one more person recovered is a life saved. That’s why I write.