Here is part two of my interview with writer Pippa Wilson. If you didn’t get a chance to read part one (do so here!), Pippa recovered from both anorexia and bulimia.
She’s author of Letting Go of Ed: A Guide to Recovering from Your Eating Disorder, which will be published this August.
Below, Pippa talks about complete recovery, what inspired her to write her book, the many myths about eating disorders and much, much more.
(By the way, how absolutely beautiful is that photo!)
Q: Do you still struggle with eating disordered thoughts and behaviors? If so, how do you overcome them?
A: No, I don’t struggle now. I eat what I want, when I want, without guilt. I exercise moderately because I enjoy it, not because I want to lose weight. I don’t own weighing scales. I accept myself as me-sized, which is curvaceous.
There was one time after my recovery that I was tested – when my baby son nearly died. It was a hugely upsetting time, and I found what I call ‘Ed thoughts’ emerged as my mind struggled to cope with difficult emotions.
But they were just fleeting thoughts that the healthy part of me batted away. And actually the experience was very liberating, as I had always wondered how concrete my recovery would be in the face of real adversity; and the answer was, no part of me will ever go back to that life.
Q: What insights have you taken away from your struggles and recovery?
A: A book full, to be honest – hence my book! The main ones would be that eating disorders are about how you feel, not what you do/look like; that you don’t fight an eating disorder to get better – you focus on the problem, not the symptom (Ed) and then find you don’t need your eating disorder anymore; and that recovery isn’t perfect (perfectionism is Ed, not life after Ed).
Q: Your book Letting Go of Ed: A Guide to Recovering from Your Eating Disorder will be published this August. What inspired you to write the book?
A: I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and I wrote a lot in journals as a teenager and young adult. So it was instinctive to want to write a book about my experiences with an eating disorder. I started the book when I was twenty, but I found myself writing depressing rants as I worked through my difficult feelings.
Then, when I was first letting go of Ed, the idea emerged for a guide to recovery that drew upon my experiences. I had read so many books while ill, but felt that many focused on the symptoms, not the problems; and I wanted to write something a little different.
I felt I needed to give myself time to just live a little without thinking about Ed stuff, so I didn’t do much about the book for a long time. Then, years later, I was pregnant with my son when the book started taking form in my mind.
I decided it would a positive and cathartic experience to write the book before I became a mum, as kind of final letting go of the past through the writing. I wrote it in a few weeks, then put it away and focused on my son. Only when he was a year old did I get out the manuscript, re-read it and decide that perhaps it was worth publishing.
Q: What message would you like readers to take away from your book?
A: If I had to pick just one message it would be this: complete recovery is possible. You can get to a point where you’re at peace in your skin, where you’re happy to just be you, where a large slice of chocolate cake is heaven, not hell.
Q: What other resources (books, websites) do you recommend for individuals struggling with an eating disorder?
A: The best book I’ve ever read that was a real inspiration to me in recovery is Kim McMillen’s When I Loved Myself Enough. I bought a copy of this book for all of my friends after I read it because it’s an instant passport to inner calm.
I think Susie Orbach’s On Eating is a great guide to calm, mindful eating, and Kaz Cooke’s Real Gorgeous is a great, realistic look at beauty.
Q: What does recovery mean to you?
A: There are many answers I could give to this question, but I think the most important – and most yearned for – is that, for me, recovery means peace.
Where there was once fear and shame and anger and disbelief, there is now a lovely, still calmness; an acceptance of myself and the world around. Recovery means sitting beside a lake in the sunshine watching my husband and son feed the ducks and knowing that everything is okay, just as it is.
Q: What are some misconceptions about eating disorders?
A: There are so many, and they are so damaging. That only white, middle-class teenagers get eating disorders. That people with eating disorders just need to pull themselves together and eat a decent meal. That anorexia is the only dangerous eating disorder.
That binge eating disorder isn’t really an eating disorder, it’s just gluttony. That anorexics never eat. That if someone is a ‘healthy’ weight they don’t have an eating disorder. That eating disorders are something you grow out of. That eating disorders are all about vanity. That you never truly recover from an eating disorder – you’ll always struggle at some level.
I could go on . . . there’s a real lack of understanding that can hinder recovery.
Q: What else would you like readers to know about eating disorders or your story?
A: Just that there’s a whole lot of fabulous living to be done once you let go of your eating disorder. Ed is the only loss; you gain so much more by letting go.
I’m grateful to Pippa for this inspiring and thoughtful interview!
Check out more recovery stories here.
And if you’ve recovered from an eating disorder, ditched dieting and/or have finally found self-acceptance and want to share your story on Weightless, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Last reviewed: 21 Jul 2011