Understanding the Language of Eating Disorders

It’s turning out to be book week here at Beautiful You!  A few days ago I posted my review of ’7 Ways to Love Yourself’ by Michelle Marie McGrath and today I’m delighted to be telling you about a new book that is coming out called ‘Ed Said You Said’ by Cate Sangster and June Alexander.  This is going to be a very important book for any person or someone caring for them who has an eating disorder.  I am thrilled to support it as a counselor and coach who has a special interest in supporting those in recovery from eating disorders.  You can read more about Cate and June on their blogs_ Keep Cate Busy and June Alexander  and Cate writes for us below…

Misunderstandings happen all the time.  Especially as the world seems to be moving faster and faster each day.  We don’t take the time to properly explain our point of view.  Or we fail to make ourselves clear in 140 characters.  This is only natural.  We hurt our loved ones and have to back peddle, figure out what we said wrong and set the record straight.

But what happens when you have absolutely no idea what you could have said that was so bad?  And what if when screaming, slamming doors, refusal to eat and self injury then follow the misunderstanding?

For any parent, grand parent, brother, sister, or friend of someone with an eating disorder this is the terrifying reality.

As one mother puts it: “[It] has felt at times like I am talking a different version of English with my daughter – when I try to provide positive feedback, it is read as failure for her or that she is fat.”

I have felt these misunderstanding first hand – I have an eating disorder.  And because of it I have worried, hurt, ignored and shouted at my loved ones, friends and treatment providers as they have tried to express concern, or even encouragement along my recovery journey.  Yes, I even misunderstand encouragement.

And I know my story is not isolated.  So many stories mirror mine.  So many others have also felt the fear, the hurt, the anxiety, the self destruction, and the alienation that I have – and I want these experiences to count for something.

Together with international author June Alexander (My Kid is Back, A Girl Called Tim, A Collaborative Approach to Eating Disorders) we are writing a guide to help everyone to better understand the language of eating disorders.  To give all carers and friends an insight into what their loved ones are thinking, and how to prevent setting off unintended triggers.

The book, currently with the working title ED says U said: understanding the language of eating disorders will present twitter-style conversations between eating disorder sufferers and their loved ones – and analyse how the communication breakdown for each conversation occurred.

For example, these conversations might look like:

  1. Parent: Oh good girl, you’re eating your dinner before I even had to remind you it’s meal time.
  2. Daughter: What have I done! I’m so weak and pathetic! Stop eating RIGHT NOW!
  1. Parent: I know you’ve been lying to me and exercising in your room when the doctor has told you not to.  Why do you do this when you know it hurts you?
  2. Son: She’s been spying on me and now she hates me. I have to be more careful in the future not get caught.
  1. Parent (at restaurant): Oh c’mon honey, hurry up and choose.  Everyone’s waiting for you.
  2. Daughter: Well thanks a lot! Now I can’t even look at the menu. There’s nothing on here I can eat. There are too many choices. I don’t want to be here and now everyone’s looking at me.  I want to go home!

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