Eating Disorders Victoria (AU) Book Review

Purge is going international! Eating Disorders Victoria, an Australian ED foundation reviewed my book. Overall, I found it to be a very positive review, barring the last paragraph, okay, the last sentence (excerpted below):

“It is helpful as an account of what to expect from treatment, but the unintentional suggestions on how to support your eating disorder, makes the book more of a liability than an asset to the eating disordered mind.”

I take issue with this sentence, because there are neither unintentional nor intentional suggestions on how to support your eating disorder in Purge. This isn’t Wasted. I think this might be referring to how I didn’t necessarily follow all the rules at the EDC, and how I balked at some of the treatment exercises and therapeutic interventions that were performed. An example would be writing about how I smuggled diet coke at Target, or how people would toss candy up on to the deck of the EDC. I understand that this is a problematic behavior, but it is also trademark eating disorder behavior, especially if you look at the addictive nature of eating disorders.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that people smuggle in contraband to treatment, or that they don’t follow all the rules. None of us were model patients, and those who often try to be model patients in an effort to please staff and be the best ED patient on the floor often aren’t being honest with themselves or others. In some ways, struggling, and being honest about your urges instead of ignoring them seems more healthy to me. Hiding it is more problematic.

An example of what I mean is in the following anecdote…

Holly and I went on a “restaurant challenge” together with some other girls from the EDC and our dietician. It was a local place, and we both got bacon cheeseburgers (that were rather large) and then ordered a ginormous slice of pie for dessert, while we guzzled tons of diet coke. We did this all under the eyes of our dietician, and we claimed we were eating like normal people and just enjoying ourselves, when in fact we were bingeing with every intention of purging. At the time, I thought the dietician was not being very smart letting us do this, but her stopping us wouldn’t have done any good. We had to learn to deal with situation ourselves. Back at the EDC, in group therapy, we both confessed to bingeing with the idea of purging post-meal. We had to sit through our uncomfortable feelings of over-fulness, indigestion and acid reflux. We thought it was the end of the world, and all we wanted to do was purge. Then something amazing happened.

The feeling passed. We learned that yes, we binged, and by bingeing we engaged in ED behavior, but we didn’t have to purge. On that day, we took back a bit of control from our ED.

I think the key is letting a person make mistakes and learn from them. Had our dietician ended our meal we wouldn’t have learned anything.

I know it’s not always that simple, and with ED patients there are lots of different factors to consider. Had we not been in decent health at that point, we might’ve needed an intervention so that we didn’t hurt ourselves. But, given where we were physically and emotionally, I believe our dietician chose the best route.

I guess what I’m saying is slip ups happen. We all break the rules. Secrets keep us sick, but honesty frees us from guilt.

It would be impossible to write an ED memoir about going through treatment without some mention of how I supported my ED. I like to think that I haven’t given readers gratuitous and unintentional ED “tipz”. I don’t think my book is one that people read/will read to further their eating disorder. I hope that my readers see the consequences of my ED actions in my book, and realize that I often slipped and struggled, but I kept climbing and ultimately found my way out.

Here is the Eating Disorders Victoria (AU) book review link:

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