Keepin' It Real: "Goodbye ED, Hello Me"

I just finished reading "Goodbye ED, Hello Me", by Jenni Schaefer.  For those of you who aren't aware, Jenni suffered from an eating disorder for many years, and underwent treatment over the period of several years.  She now considers herself "fully recovered".  Since her recovery, she has developed a very successful career as a writer, and has now published two books about her eating disorder and recovery. Both of these books left me mildly to moderately confused, bordering on alienated.  However, it's possible that I'm just projecting.

Whereas I am happy for Jenni Schaefer's recovery, and the fact that she has made a very successful post-recovery life for herself, while reading her books, I often found myself stopping to ponder...

"Where's the REALITY in this book?"

"Where's the MEAT?"

"Give it to me RAW, Jenni!"

I fully understand that one of the goals of her books is to tell her story without triggering anyone's eating-disordered habits, however, I just feel like something very real is missing from both of these books.

I wanted Jenni to tell me how much she hates ED for stealing so many years of her life away.  I wanted her to at least mention the pain that still creeps in on occasion and threatens to steal her life away again, like it did before.  I just don't believe that she is not experiencing any of these emotions.

And I'm actually uncomfortable with the fact that everything written in this book feels so nonchalant.  In speaking of how she sometimes feels sad, Jenni mentions that she now understands that it's OK to be sad, so she just lets herself feel those emotions.  She's kind to herself on that day, then she just moves on.  If things seem to be dragging on with her sadness, she seeks help from her doctor and/or therapist.

Really?  Is it really THAT simple?

I'm not generally a sad person.  My eating disorder was never complicated with sadness or depression (but oh, the anxiety!), but many individuals who have had or are recovering from an eating disorder do suffer from depression.  How can it be so easy post-recovery to just basically say "yeah, I get sad, I feel better, then I just move on."

No big deal.

I wanted her to kirk out.  Just once.  One good outburst, tucked into the book somewhere.  One primal scream.  Something to let me know that she's not some recovered robot, but an actual living and breathing human being who just happens to have recovered from an eating disorder.

I wanted her to tell me that it's normal to still be terrified about potentially gaining 30+ pounds during pregnancy, and that it's OK to still feel like your world is going to fall off of its' axis when you have to decide whether to eat food that you hate or eat nothing at all.

Lunch meat or starve...lunch meat or starve...lunch meat or starve...

I wanted to see some latent pain.  There has to still be some pain!  Some regret!  Something that is still just a little bit raw.

Just because we are not engaging in our negative behavior of choice, "recovered" does not mean "reprieved".

I do not believe that 'treatment' ever ends.  It may morph and take shape as something entirely different from your original treatment plan, but whether it is a solitary or group effort, 'treatment' is always present in the life of a recovered person.  Your 'treatment' post-recovery might not be my 'treatment', but we're still undergoing 'treatment', just the same.

I'm not hating on you, Jenni Schaefer.  On the contrary, I'm incredibly proud of you and I find you to be an amazing and inspiring person.  I just want to know how to get rid of my "recovered" and trade it in for a little bit of yours instead.

Yours seems much easier.  But maybe an editor could make mine seem easy too.


Although I don't dispute Jenni's "happy-go-luckiness", I just have a hard time identifying with the fact that she doesn't face serious struggles related to her body image and her "recovered" status.  I, too, am a very happy person, and I can easily live my life for the most part without eating-disordered thoughts nagging at me.

For the most part.

I just wanted to hear a more candid account of the times when she also faces these challenges.  I was looking for something in this book that I didn't find, and that's not the fault of the author.  I just need to find a book that I can better relate to.

Just for the record, I am going to Jenni's book signing and lecture about "Goodbye ED, Hello Me" at the end of October.  I don't doubt that she will be every bit as wonderful and lovely in person as she seems in the book.  My review was not meant to discredit her books in any way, because I'm sure that they have helped countless people in their fight against ED.

The book just wasn't what I needed, and that's OK.  I'm sure she'd understand.

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