I had never heard of Ed. I had never heard of eating disorders, either, not for a long time. I ended up in therapy and my first therapist didn’t seem to know anything about eating disorders. Nor did anyone at the day treatment center I went to. By then, I knew I had an eating disorder. I knew that word. I didn’t know any of the vocabulary that is now used. Why? Because it didn’t exist.
Bulimia had just recently been invented, or, discovered, or, rather, they decided to acknowledge that people were secretly throwing up their food and maybe this wasn’t medically safe. In fact, people were dropping dead of it, and I heard it was possible to drop dead of anorexia, too. But I was told it was “highly unlikely.” I was told I had a “very minor problem.” I was told that other people suffered far more than I did. I was told I was ungrateful, undeserving, and spoiled. Being Jewish didn’t help. All it meant was more money for the therapists. Did I hear the word “princess” muttered under their breaths?
That’s how it all started. No talk of Ed. That’s because the therapists hadn’t invented Ed yet. That must have started decades later. I had no Ed. When I met others in the 1980’s and 1990’s, they, too, certainly didn’t have an Ed nor spoke of some imaginary husband. What hogwash was created to make even more money!
The concept of Ed is great as a teaching tool to teach self-policing. They call it thought regulation. Thought regulation means you censor your thoughts. So every time a “bad thought” happens, you banish it. When you have a good thought, you reinforce it so you have more of the same.
All we like sheep!
Sounds great to get people to comply, right? So you tell a bunch of young people (I used to hear this all the time and laugh my ass off) “Don’t listen to Ed.” So there would be an entire group on how to stop “The voice of Ed.”
I would like to share a secret with you: There is no voice of Ed. It’s their imagination. They invented Ed as a way to control you and manipulate you. So, they divide “bad thoughts” and “good thoughts” but they no longer have to call it that because they have this handy “Ed” to do the work for them.
Now, any time you say something they dislike, they say, “Oh, that’s Ed talking. Don’t listen to him.”
Imagine the power and control they now have over vulnerable patients who only wanted help with their eating problems.
Patient: I’m concerned about the side effects of this pill you are giving me. This is causing discomfort. I notice my legs move. Why am I taking it and how does it help my eating disorder?
Staff: So you are overly concerned about a part of your body. It sounds like you are obsessing. Maybe you need to take a few deep breaths.
Patient: I wasn’t asking for that. I would like to see a full listing of the side effects of this drug.
Staff: We don’t have Internet access here. That’s a special request. You will have to ask the doctor.
Patient: I asked the doctor. He didn’t answer my question. The problem with my legs is getting worse. I’m afraid to take any more of these pills.
Staff: Your obsession with your body is part of your eating disorder. You should not think these thoughts. Tell Ed to go away.
So you have an entire population of patients banishing their Ed thoughts. Whatever staff sees as dissent is called an Ed thought. Asking for human rights laws to be followed is an Ed thought. Asking for respect, that, too, is an Ed thought. Demanding that you are allowed to celebrate a religious holiday instead of going to all-holy group, that, too, is an Ed thought.
Of course, an Ed thought might also be looking at a thin person and saying to yourself, “Gee, I wish I could look like that.”
Let’s examine this. First of all, is there a guy named Ed that lives in you and is forcing you to think this? I don’t think so, or shall I say, I cannot detect a person named Ed inside me.
Hey, Ed, yoo-hoo!
No response. I don’t detect any Ed inside. I have never seen one on an x-ray. If a tiny dude name Ed showed up on my latest ultrasound, I would think the technician doing it might have freaked, don’t you?
Eeeks! This woman’s preggers! At 56? No wonder you don’t feel well……
Maybe, when he’s ready to pop out the hatch, I’ll name him Eduardo, eh?
All kidding aside, I choose to be free of self-policing. If I see a woman beating her child, I will try to do something about it. Wouldn’t you? If you see human rights violations on a psych ward, would you speak up, or would you buy into “That’s your eating disorder talking”?
Any thought I think is my thought and I can choose to share it or not. Say I got out and see a very thin woman and I decide, “Wow, I think I’ll go on a diet and lose a bunch of weight and look just as thin as she is.”
I proudly own that thought. It’s a thought. I have these thoughts now and then. Thinking something isn’t a crime. It won’t hurt me. In fact, shaming myself for allowing these thoughts to creep into my mind is probably more harmful. I don’t like shaming myself. I’ll bet you don’t like feeling ashamed of what you think, either.
Staff use Ed language as a way to shame patients. Don’t buy into it. Be proud of what you think and who you are. Just thinking, “I wish I were thinner” won’t harm you. It’ll harm you more to allow others to control what you think.
I do indeed think those thoughts. Sometimes, I even enjoy them. Sometimes, I don’t. Does it matter? I don’t make an issue of it. That’s because I threw Ed and policing out the window. You can, too.