Yay Runforjoy! Nice job! As a cool addition, you managed to get a good conversation in with a friend about the topic as well. You rock.
I wanted to comment on something a few of you mentioned the other day, since it's important and occurs frequently.
It can be a real problem for people when they begin to look healthier.
The idea sounds silly, right? I mean, how could it be problematic or complicated to look less ill?
But you guys are talking about it, and I see it all the time. Furthermore, if not handled well, it's the cause of many a relapse or at least an increase in symptoms/behaviors. It's also a major cause of feelings of disconnection, misunderstanding and miscommunication between suffers and people they care about.
Since people respond to what they see/observe, they often forget there may be more to the picture. Also, since it is a common misconception that eating disorders are all about food and weight, when someone begins to appear as if he/she is eating more/better, gaining back some much-need weight... anything like that, people tend to make assumptions about what this all means; and, as you guys pointed out, the assumptions people make tend to be things like "oh, I guess she's recovered" or "guess I don't need to worry about him anymore" or "things must be easy for her now."
Clearly, changing the relationship with food and/or weight is important. For example,increased flexibility regarding food is a good sign, and arresting weight loss (and then gaining weight if that's what's necessary) are crucial steps in the process of recovering.
BUT, these nutritional, physical, medical things are only part of the picture. Just because someone can make it through dinner at a restaurant where she couldn't even go into a few months prior, doesn't mean doing so is at all easy for her, for instance.
And since the thought processes that go along with eating disorders are complex and usually pretty entrenched they take time to alter and resolve. Someone can have restored her weight and/or minimized her binge/purging greatly AND :) still be plagued by the guilt, fear, rigidity that are inherent in these illnesses.
So, what can we do? Well, fortunately, there are some things that can help. It won't surprise you that they have to do with education. Basically, what we need to do is help the people we care about understand the true experience of having an ED, and the process of working on recovery.
In fact, as part of preliminary treatment with families I like to predict this phenomenon: that although their loved one will begin to look healthier at some point, and that is a good thing, it doesn't mean she's ED-thought-process free. Predicting this for people seems to really help them stay aware of the emotional/psychological state of their loved one and not get overly caught up in what her weight, body and/or food behaviors are doing.
It takes energy, time, and it can make someone feel somewhat exposed or vulnerable, to try to inform people about this. Because of this, we can't educate everyone we come across. That being said, I'd encourage you guys to concentrate on informing those with whom you have the most contact, those you are closest to, and those whom you most want to understand your experience.
There are myriad ways you can help them understand better- talking to them, giving them some of the books Gurze has for friends and families, reading things with them, showing them the Gurze and/or NEDA websites, drawing them pictures... Whatever's most true to your personal style.
Whatever happens, don't let yourselves fall into that limited and distorted type of thinking. Remind yourselves (by being scrupulously honest, of course) of what is true for you. And use AND as you describe your experience, as in: I'm physically more healthy than I was 6 months ago AND I continue to work on and struggle with the those difficult, guilt-ridden thoughts and beliefs. It's tough enough to continue on our path of recovery when we feel those around us don't get what we're dealing with; it quickly can become impossible to stay on the path if we ourselves lose touch with what we are dealing with.