Almost Anorexic is a book for and about all the people being borderline with disordered eating. Too often these people are not diagnosed and are not getting the help they need because they are still at a “normal weight”. (I actually hate these words because I know there is no such thing as a “normal weight”, everyone is so different…).
So far, weight and measurements were playing an important role in the diagnosis of an eating disorder. However, everyone having experienced struggles with food, knows that extreme thinness is not something required to be stuck in destructive behaviours and be in need for help.
When you are sick, this situation doesn’t help you to see your problem objectively at all. I definitely know what it means to be stuck like that and I’ve seen many people being there too. Throughout this work, Jenni & Jenny are spokespersons for millions of amazing people in this situation. Their work is so important, I can’t recommend it enough…
Jenni, could you please explain your experience with eating disorders a bit more?
At the young age of four-years-old, I heard a voice in my head that said, “You are fat. You aren’t good enough.” That voice was my eating disorder (aka “Ed”). Not until I was 22-years-old did I learn that I didn’t have to listen to Ed anymore. I began my long recovery journey.
Even though it felt like a two-steps-forward, three-steps-back process for a while, I was actually making progress.
- Jenni Schaefer
With encouragement from others, I even started to see that full recovery was possible.
Ultimately, I wanted to share that message of hope with others. I wrote my first book, Life Without Ed, followed by Goodbye Ed, Hello Me several years later. And now I am thrilled about Almost Anorexic! I have a lot of fun writing and speaking.
Jenny, could you please explain a bit more about your work?
When I tell people on airplanes or at parties that my research focuses on eating disorders, they often respond, “I wish I had a touch of anorexia.” But one of the things I’ve learned as Co-Director of the Eating Disorders Clinical and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital is that for every person who has anorexia nervosa (a life-threatening psychiatric disorder), eight more struggle with subthreshold symptoms.
For every person who has anorexia nervosa, eight more struggle with subthreshold symptoms.
- Dr. Jenny Thomas
In fact, my research suggests that almost anorexia can be just as dangerous and impairing as anorexia nervosa. Sadly, many individuals with almost anorexia never get treatment because they don’t fit the specific criteria for anorexia nervosa described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
That’s why we wrote the book Almost Anorexic — to encourage people not to let the number on the scale to prevent them from seeking help!
Personal note: “Yeah! I LOVE that!”
Can you explain a bit more about your new book, “Almost Anorexic”?
Almost Anorexic is meant to provide hope, help, and validation to those who restrict, binge, purge, or battle poor body image – regardless of what their official clinical diagnosis may (or may not) be. Subclinical eating disorders like EDNOS (now called OSFED in DSM-5) can be just as devastating as more well-known eating disorders.
Unlike what many people think, the grey area between normal eating and an officially recognized eating disorder like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder is home to a great deal of pain and suffering. We call this grey area almost anorexia.
Those who suffer may not believe that they deserve help, but, in fact, they do!
- Dr. Jenny Thomas
And, importantly, empirically-supported therapies exist that can help people reach a full recovery.
So many people are in this specific situation. Do you have specific numbers?
While only 1 in 200 adults will struggle with full-blown anorexia nervosa, at least 1 in 20 (including 1 in 10 teen girls) will exhibit key symptoms of one or more of the officially recognized DSM eating disorders - anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. (These estimates come from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, which interviewed thousands of adults in the United States).
With “Almost Anorexic“, you are giving some tools and information to people suffering from this situation. Do you also wish to reach the medical & governmental worlds? Do you think things are going to change?
We would love to increase awareness about subclinical eating disorders. Our hope is that more people will reach out for help and also that more assistance will be readily available for those who suffer.
Yes, we have already gotten some feedback. We are grateful to have heard many positive comments about Almost Anorexic (and even received some nice notes) from those whose lives have been touched by eating disorders!
We do think things will change. Many incredible organizations all over the world are working hard to make change happen. Dr. Thomas is very involved with the Academy for Eating Disorders, and Jenni is Chair of the Ambassadors Council of the National Eating Disorders Association. We encourage others to get involved in organizations that support eating disorders awareness, research, and advocacy.
Could you please share one of the biggest challenges you met when writting this book?
Because Almost Anorexic is part of a Harvard Medical School series on subclinical mental illness, we were on a very tight schedule so as not to delay the release of the subsequent books. Both of us are recovering perfectionists (you know this about Jenni if you’ve read her other books!), so we almost ended up with a really fantastic introduction… but nothing else.
To get the book done in the nine months Harvard gave us (kind of like having a baby), we had to stop making teeny word-level edits to portions we’d already written, and to start creating content for later chapters. Good thing we did – the last chapter (“Don’t Settle for Almost Recovered”) is one of our favorites!
You can download a table from that chapter that compares “barely recovered” to “fully recovered here.
What tip/advice would you give to our readers suffering from this situation to help them start recovery?
Get help. Many people struggling with almost anorexia will need professional help. Within Almost Anorexic, we provide very detailed instructions and resources on how to seek help. We even talk about how to reach out to a friend or family member about your problems with food. Getting better means getting connected. Avoid isolation. Tell someone.
In Almost Anorexic, we quote author Shannon Cutts, “Relationships replace eating disorders. Period. The End.” We agree.
Jenni, what kind of advice would you have wished to get when recovering from Ed?
I needed to hear this: Full recovery is possible.
Unfortunately, I didn’t hear that in the beginning of my recovery process. However, eventually, both clinicians and those who had recovered themselves began sharing this important message with me. In Almost Anorexic, Dr. Thomas and I encourage people, “Don’t settle for barely recovered.”
Because fully recovered is possible!
- Jenni Schaefer
WIN 1 COPY OF “ALMOST ANOREXIC”
Share in the comments below why you want this book before July 14. I’ll contact the lucky winner via email to get his/her details & send the book! Good luck