I just reread my last post from 2011 and I wish I could say, life was as 'Ed Free' as I thought it was going to be back then, but alas it wasn't.
Anorexia was replaced with two years of purging disorder, which was also accompanied by depression, cutting, and substance abuse all in the effort to appease the anxiety which turned out to be under lying trigger for everything.
Emily has now been in recovery for three years. I would like to say she's recovered but you just never know. I do know that all of the behaviours and rules are gone, long gone. She eats whatever she wants whenever she wants and I don't even think about Ed except that I still get a huge rush of delight when she asks for a grilled cheese sandwich, with camembert, apple and butter.
We discovered that once she stopped purging, the depression lifted, the cutting and substance abuse stopped but she didn't have anything to control her anxiety so it ratcheted up to a whole new level. She tried using CBT but it didn't help. Finally she agreed to try a therapist who uses intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy (ISDTP) and eureka it worked. It took two years for her to complete it, but her anxiety was dramatically reduced after only six sessions.
What she and I both learned is that anxiety isn't a feeling, rather it's a mental activity that we create for ourselves to avoid feeling a negative feeling. Emily had to learn that anxiety was worse than letting herself feel her feelings. The work she had to do to relearn how to identify and experience and work through feelings was enormous, but she did it with the help of her remarkable therapist. Now every conversation we have now is like a breath of fresh air and I just want to drink in her incredible insights and self-awareness and clarity.
She was asked to write this article on her experiences with eating disorders for mental health awareness week at her university. What she describes is tragically all too familiar to so many people but she is proof that recovery is possible.
To me life after Getting Rid of Ed can be summed up as the thrill of seeing your child become the person you always thought they were going to be before the monster took over.