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Stand Up to the ED Bully

Stand Up to the ED Bully

''I have a bully in my life called Ed.

''Food is bad. I can't have food. Ed tells me so. Ed is more powerful then me and so Ed must be right.'' These are words I hear all the time from people who have experience of an eating disorder or disordered eating, whether that be clients I see in psychotherapy, support groups, consultations, training or via email.

There is nothing bad, dirty or guilty about having to eat food in order to survive and remain healthy. It is part of nature. The only 'thing' that tells you this is that of the voice of Ed, your eating disorder. Ed thinks s/he/it has the upper hand, that s/he/it is stronger and more powerful than you. Yes, that may seem so at the moment, especially if you are struggling so much with these difficulties. 

However, the eating disorder is like the bully we see in workplaces, in the school playground, in the street outside. The bully puts on a facade of being powerful, stronger, better, braver than you. But the bully is none of these things. In fact, they are usually weak, who have their own difficulties, who are scared themselves, and who bully others to try and make themselves feel better through power and status - albeit 'fake' power and status. The bully usually gets his/her/their comeuppance in the end - either someone stands up to them, or they are 'found out' for being the weak person after all.
Eating disorders are a bit like this. They are a 'bully' who makes sure that their voice is heard above all others; who force you to do things you don't want to do; who manipulate you and make you feel scared and worthless. 

Like the bully, the eating disorder is just projecting its insecurities onto trying to control you and your life in every way possible. The eating disorder is a 'nothing' - it is weak and has no worth, no qualities whatsoever. In fact, it is rather evil and destructive and is definitely not a 'friend'. I know I would never want a friend who was intentionally evil or destructive. It seeks to destroy through its seemingly powerful voice. As soon as someone stands up to that voice however, the voice is weakened, even if ever so slightly.

The more you stand up to the eating disorder voice, the weaker it becomes - it realises it does not have as much power as it once did. Yes, it will do everything in its power to manipulate you and trick you into thinking it can cope with you standing up to it, but with strength and perseverance, you can continue to weaken the voice of the eating disorder. Just like the bully who starts to retract bit by bit when s/he/they realise s/he/they is no longer getting the reaction from you as it once did, Ed's voice too, begins to become weaker - it is not as loud as it once was. It is a weak voice after all: the voice just needed to be challenged a little to begin 'cracking'.

The more you challenge it, the more the eating disorder voice begins to 'crack' under the pressure of you challenging it and telling it how worthless and destructive it is. The voice will become lower and lower over time, weaker and weaker, so that YOUR voice becomes louder and louder and begins to overtake the eating disorder voice. YOUR voice that tells you how worthwhile, valuable, unique and special you are as a person; YOUR voice that tells you that you have so much to give and contribute in life; YOUR voice that tells you that you are important and that you are a million times better than anything an eating disorder can do or say; YOUR voice that tells you that you only have ONE LIFE and that you have so much living to do.

It won't be easy, I won't pretend it is, but if you stay brave and as strong as you possibly can, and continue to believe in yourself, to believe that you CAN do it, even when times are rough, or when you are feeling bad, or feel tired or like giving up, remember YOU ARE SPECIAL AND ARE SUPERIOR TO YOUR EATING DISORDER IN EVERY WAY POSSIBLE. Have the courage to believe in yourself and believe you are special and that you deserve the best life possible. You have only one life. Don't let an eating disorder take up any more of it.

Remember....your voice counts:recovery exists

(Alexandra O'Brien, Director and Lead Psychotherapist, Talking EDs: Glasgow and West Eating Disorder Support Service) 



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