"No one tells you that eating disorders are ugly," says Robyn Cruze, co-author of Making Peace with Your Plate: Eating Disorder Recovery. "When I was enmeshed in my eating disorder, I felt the opposite. I believed it would keep me safe and in control, and make me desirable. I thought it would protect me from myself."
So, how does the balance shift for Cruze? Eventually she finds motivation for change in the desire for freedom: "I so desperately wanted to experience life without the shackles of my eating disorder. I wanted to live, not just survive." At one point, Cruze declares: "My need to recover eventually became greater than my need to be thin." In my mind, this one pithy line captures recovery to a tee - almost everyone I've worked with has had a similar type of shift that ultimately drove her toward change.
As part of her journey, Cruze meets Espra Andrus, LCSW, a therapist trained in DBT. Though their time together was brief, Cruze was so moved by their meeting that she sought out Andrus to help her co-write this book. The result is a back-and-forth narrative that alternately captures Cruze's story with Andrus's clinical wisdom.
One of the best aspects to this book is the many exercises that help readers challenge their eating disorder voices with the truth, a common cognitive therapy technique and useful externalization of the eating disorder.
Here's one example:
Eating disorder: "There is no better way to get off of a spinning merry-go-round than to hang out with me."And another:
Truth: It is true that getting lost in eating-disorder thoughts and/or behaviors makes the chaos of things whirling around you disappear. The problem is that the merry-go-round hasn't actually stopped. You just close your eyes."
Eating disorder: "Honest, I really do help. I number the pain. Numbing pains the secret to life. . . and you need me."Andrus also provides specific techniques designed to aid in the recovery process. For instance, she encourages readers to make a list of potentially triggering comments from others (e.g., "You've lost some weight, you look good") and then "For each of these triggering words or phrases, write down what you might say, not say, do, or not do, when you hear them, then practice saying your responses out loud." As anyone in recovery can tell you, being prepared for these conversational challenges can go a long way.
Truth: Yes, your eating disorder serves as a quick fix for hard emotions - before it takes everything from you. And it will take everything from you.
Now recovered, Cruze reports: "The true value of recovery is in the process of "checking in" with myself and honoring that voice that longs to be heard and that encourages me to keep moving forward. And with each positive action I take toward this, I secure a little more self-worth from deep within."
What an inspirational definition of recovery. . .