English to Eating Disorder Translator

"Baby, you look so much healthier.  Like, looking at these pictures of you from six months ago, you can tell in your face how much healthier you are."

What he means: Your skin is glowing.  You smile more.  You don't have that pallor of malnutrition.

What I hear:  Your face is puffy.

What that means: I look fat.

"You look so much better now."

What he means:  You look so much better now.

What I hear:  You really gained weight!

What that means:  I'm going to keep gaining weight, uncontrollably.


"I know this is hard, but I also know you want a healthy life together, like I do."

What he means:  I know this is hard, but I also know you want a healthy life together, like I do.

What I hear:  I know this is hard, but I also know you want a healthy life together, like I do.

What that means:  He knows this is hard, but he also knows I want a healthy life together, like he does.

There we go.  That's better.


(Body) Love In The Time Of "Globesity"

So, this happened.

I would be lucky if I were able to have only two reactions to this release, and if those two reactions were the following:

1)  LOL, "Globesity."  I would have LOVED to've been in the room when the marketing team came up with that one, LOL.

2)  LOL, Bank of America Merrill Lynch still wants people to take its advice, LOL.

Sadly, I am not that lucky.  (Is anyone?)  Instead, my reactions included the following:

1)  >_<  cringing

2)  ಠ_ಠ  disapproval

3)  \(-_-)/ tossing my hands in the air and giving up

The cringing comes from an overwhelming feeling of Here We Go Again-ness.  It's a little hyperbolic, since I expect this press release won't exactly take over the Internet tubes.

The disapproval comes from immediately calling to my knowledge that something like 5% of weight loss tactics prove successful in the long-term, and that often they prove harmful. (Aminorex, Mediator, Fen-Phen, Redux, Meridia, Acomplia, etc.)

(Which is to say nothing of the anorectics still on the market that carry significant side effects such as pulmonary hypertension, acute glaucoma, etc.)

(Which is also to say nothing of the hilarious meta information you can pull up about these drugs if you google their names.  Example: "An experimental wonder drug, Rimonabant, helps you lose weight, quit smoking and it also helps protect your heart."  Except it did the opposite, in that it greatly exacerbated suicide risk.  Whoops.)

But the third thing?  The tossing my hands in the air and giving up?  That comes solidly from trying to exist in a weight-loss-obsessed culture while trying simultaneously to gain weight and to keep sanity.  (And I do not say that colloquially.)

It's quite an experience, trying to go against most of the food- and body-related messages that are everywhere - just everywhere.  I would like you to imagine being online, watching TV, walking down a street with ads, waiting in line next to magazines at the drug store, going down aisles at the grocery store.  Now take note of how many words and images bombard you with just two basic messages:  LOSE WEIGHT.  LIMIT WHAT YOU EAT.  This is not hard for you to imagine: if you live in a Westernized society, you probably live this most days.

Now, please imagine that instead of losing weight, you are actually supposed to be gaining weight.  Please imagine that instead of limiting what you eat, you are actually supposed to be giving up your hyper-control of food.  Please imagine that doing this with your food is actually changing your body and changing its shape, its weight, and its size.  Now, please imagine that in the most twisty chunk of your grey matter, you are really, truly terrified by these changes.  Panicked.  Horrified.

Now please tell me how all the LOSE WEIGHT, LIMIT WHAT YOU EAT messaging is healthy for you.

Weight can be a factor in health - high or low.   But the diet industry, the obesity panic, and now apparently the investment banks... They are not adding to the health of the human population.  They replace self-love with torture, and sanity with knee-jerk madness.   I am trying to love my body as it changes... er, or at least to not hate it... but this crap isn't only hurting people like me.

(via Marianne, via s.e. )


Eating Disorder Recovery: Body Over Mind

It's been an up and down time, literally.  My weight was really quite down for a while there.  I broke below the three-digit mark for a couple of months, which hadn't happened since 2003.

And now it's back up.  Just... boom, like that, all of a sudden.  Back up above BMI-chart-underweight.  Back up to something near BMI-chart-healthy-weight (which is lower than my historical set point weight, but whatev).

And I hate it.  I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.

There is only so much reasoning, only so much logicking, only so much Pro And Con Listing I can do.  I hate it.

The husband loves it.  He's been more helpful than not, though he does suffer from Heteronormative Man Syndrome, which means trying to solve problems before just listening.  (For that matter, I also suffer from Heteronormative Man Syndrome with him sometimes.)

But there's only so much he can help.  This one's on me.  And I hate it.

I wish I could better describe the internal experience:  That I've been tricked and betrayed by my body... that I know (without believing) that my body's just doing its thing, and that it's not tricking or betraying me at all... that I also know (without believing) it's my mind that's tricking and betraying.  I can know, and know, and know... and still not believe.

And that, of course, is the disorder.  That's how having anorexia or bulimia or ED-NOS is different from... well, shit, from normal modern life for a horrendous percentage of the Westernized world.

In recovery (from an eating disorder, from OCD, from addiction, from depression, from anything) you hear the refrain from those who went before you:  It'll get easier, it'll get easier.  So while my mind is still rebelling at that promise, I'll try to follow my body in the meantime.

But, oh, do I hate it.


How to Approach Someone with an Eating Disorder, According to Daytime TV

In the spring I went to a taping of Anderson Cooper's daytime talk show.  I'd forgotten about it until Monday (congrats, Silver Fox) (he shook my hand at the taping) (I kind of didn't want to wash it afterward) and it finally dawned on me to hunt down some clips online to see if any of the cameras they stuck in my face (audience reaction shots) ended up with me on syndicated television.

At some point the show appears to have had a segment on teen eating disorders, because there were a few pieces of web content about what triggers eating disorders, etc.  This is all via a very media-friendly-looking licensed psychologist, Dr. Ramani, who seems to make the talk show circuit.  The list of triggers was very age-range-specific to teens, and isn't really anything you've not read a hundred times before.

The How to Approach Someone with an Eating Disorder I find a little more problematic.

Number One
Parents must create a healthy food space and model healthy eating and exercise behavior.

Okay, but what does "healthy food space" mean?  What does "healthy eating and exercise behavior" mean?  There aren't clips readily available on the site, but I assume that to Dr. Ramani this means what it means to most eating disorder specialists: food as physiological and social enjoyment, not as a moral issue, a varied diet and exercise/sporting activities geared toward having fun and feeling good.

Great, but do you know what "a healthy food space" and "healthy eating and exercise behavior" mean to parents I've known?  They mean never drink your calories, broken record statements like "are you sure you want the whole bagel?", and constant vigilance of going up a size... and for them, that IS a healthy food space.

Number Two
Create open lines of communication.  Be present with your daughter.

Or son.  I mean, statistically daughter, but here we run up against the evils of daytime TV.

Number Three
It is critical that they see a physician...

(This one's long, and perfectly sane.)

Number Four
Don’t let fear stop you from talking to your daughter.

This one dovetails well with part of the slideshow's intro:  "In terms of approaching them, parents often feel fearful and their first attempts can often be accusatory and put their girls on the defensive."  Amen.  Been there, done that, and obviously it worked really well, since that was fifteen years ago.

Number Five
Talk to a mental health practitioner with a specialty in this area about how to approach your child specifically. You do not need to suffer alone.

Agreed, but be aware that your daughter may well lie to the mental health professional, and that mental health professionals only have the patient's word if it's a first-time meeting.  "Do you ever purge?" the first psychologist I was taken to asked me.  "I mean, I've tried it once or twice," I told her, instead of the truth.  "Well," she said, "Now that I've seen you I'm not so worried about you."  And again, we see how well that worked, since that was almost ten years ago.

Number Six
Make sure you and your partner are on the same page...

This... this has got to be a tough one.  My parents were always on the same page here, as it were, so I can't volunteer any criticism or tips here.

That's it.  That's the daytime TV website version of how to approach (your female teenaged) someone with an eating disorder.  Nothing you haven't heard before, but it certainly leaves a lot of grey areas that could edge into the problematic.