Life Without ED – A Triumph Of Recovery

Sirona Therapy serving Westchester Fairfield and Putnam blog post about recovery from book Life Without ED

11 Dec Life Without ED – A Triumph Of Recovery

A True Story of Eating Disorder Recovery

 
Jenni Schaefer is the author of a book called, “Life Without Ed”. Along with being an author, she is also a successful songwriter and singer. Jenni is also a young woman, who at the age of four remembers judging herself and how she looked in her leotard during ballet class. She remembers feeling self-conscious about her four-year-old body, and feeling the need to be skinnier. This early memory was the start of a 20-year battle with an illness Jenni describes as; abusive, controlling, horrific, isolating, debilitating and life threatening. “Life without ED” is a book of one woman’s courageous journey of struggle, survival, and recovery from her ED. Jenni allows readers into her illness and path to recovery. She accomplished this with the help and support of family, friends, and professionals.

Sirona Therapy Westchester cover image recovery from book Life Without ED

Recovery From ED Is One Of The Toughest

This book helped me to understand and gain insight on the damaging effects an eating disorder has on the individual who is suffering from it. Jenni Schaefer offers such a clear perspective on what it’s like to live with an ED because she has done just that for over 20 years of her life. She invites the readers into her lonely, dark, destructive, and yet hopeful journey. A journey of fighting her way toward overcoming her eating disorder, and staying on a path to full recovery.

Why Commitment To ED Recovery Is Crucial

Early on in the book, it became clear to me; eating disorders are “life-threatening illnesses”. As I continued reading, I continued learning more facts about this terrible life changing illness. One fact is that it is an extremely complicated illness, which makes it more difficult to treat and to fully recover from. This book offers a step by step guide to help other individuals work through their own difficult, but lifesaving journey.

Though everyone has their own story, there are certain steps in recovery that will give the individual the best chance at a full recovery. Once someone recognizes they need help, they will need to create motivation and commitment to change/recovery. Creating a support team around you is also crucial. These team members should include family, friends and professionals that only have your best interest at heart.

There Is Always Hope For A Full Recovery From ED

After finishing this book, I learned full recovery is possible. This is something important to remember, because the road through recovery is not an easy one, but definitely one worth taking. “Life Without ED” is divided into seven different parts in order to help the reader navigate through all of the helpful information offered in it.

Part 1: “separating the person from the illness”

Jenni and her therapist share detailed experiences and therapy exercises that can help the individual make that initial “split” from their ED. ED is short for Eating Disorder, and Jenni introduces ED as her once controlling, abusive partner who she had to “divorce” in order to fully separate and recover from.

Jenni shares her hope and excitement early on in the book, after an exercise in her group therapy where she pulls up a second chair and “confronts” her eating disorder. She remembers this being the first time that she could actually feel a little separation between the ED and her authentic self. Part 1 goes into more details and exercises to help continue to further separate from your ED and start to know your “authentic self”.  As you start to learn and recognize who your authentic self is, you will gain strength and insight. This will help you continue to separate from your ED and start disagreeing with its daily commands.

Part 2: “food and helpful ideas around the holidays”

Eating Disorders that consume the lives of so many people are not really about food. Each individual with an ED suffers internally. Descriptive words I have heard and read about focus on the inner self. Their internal dialogue focuses on self-doubt, low-self-worth and self-hatred. I also recognize each one of these individuals has some amazing and beautiful qualities about them, which they themselves can’t see or acknowledge.

Part 3: “body image”

Jenni was plagued with the constant thought, “I must be thin”. Excessive concerns about body weight and being thin is an everyday experience for someone with an eating disorder. After starting to “separate” from your ED, you can also start to focus on finding meaning in your life for your authentic self. This can be used as motivation to continue to fight the ED.

Part 4: “the nuts and bolts of recovery”

Part 4 shares pieces of Jenni’s battle with her ED, and the times she continued to make unhealthy choices. She fell down over and over, but eventually picked herself back up every time. Jenni understood that persistence was crucial. She dealt with setbacks, but knew failure was not an option if she wanted to be free from her ED.

Parts 5 & 6: “providing support in overcoming relapse”

As you will learn in the book, Jenni herself continued to struggle with ups and downs along her recovery. This is normal and to be expected. Eventually you will need to get serious about getting better, and commit to making recovery your first priority. Taking steps backward or relapsing is part of the recovery process, “not failing”. You will not win every fight. It’s more important that you continue to get back up and win the battle.

Part 7: “believing in yourself”

Allowing yourself to have dreams and use them as motivation to keep moving forward in treatment and not ever giving up on your recovery.

Conclusion:

I recommend anyone who is struggling with an eating disorder, or think you may have an ED to read this book. You will find different skills and educational material that can be helpful once you decide to start your recovery process. There is also a link to Jenni Schaefer’s website. Here you will find more helpful information on ED’s and other stories of individuals who have experienced recovery.

I also recommend this book to any professional who is working with someone suffering with an eating disorder. This book gives invaluable insight into the mind of someone who has gone through an eating disorder, and has come out on the other side of recovery. I found the group and individual therapy assignments explained in the book helpful in treatment of clients.

This book is also beneficial to anyone who loves someone who is suffering with an eating disorder. You all know firsthand the horrible grip and impact the eating disorder has on your loved one. This book can help you to recognize that it is not important for you to understand everything. It is very important to just listen and let your loved one know you heard them and you support them.

Please know, this is just a brief description of the book. There are 99 short chapters of facts, lessons, stories and hope. It’s one woman’s experience living with and fully recovering from her own eating disorder. She makes it clear to readers, that they are “not alone” and full recovery “is possible”.

Shannon Ramos, LMSW Sirona Therapy Mount Kisco new clinician Shannon Ramos - Mindfulness expert

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