In 2004 the book Life Without Ed boosted my efforts in gaining reconnection with ‘me’. I had been ‘lost’ for 44 years with an eating disorder and, within 12 months of reading this book, I was ‘found’. In 2014, author Jenni Schaefer released a 10th Anniversary update, and I was thrilled because this Life Without Ed is an evergreen. I love recommending this helpful book to others.
Of course, more than one book was required to help me recover. I owe my life to a network of support that includes my children’s dad, my children, and grandchildren, friends, psychiatrist, therapists, doctors, neurosurgeon, minister of religion and faith in God. While my long illness led to alienation from my family of origin, and loss of my marriage, I gained another family through ongoing healing and self-discovery … a family comprising people from across the eating disorder field. This ‘family of choice’ continues to nurture self-belief and fuels my passion for writing books and advocacy, in raising awareness of eating disorders around the globe.
Lived Experience Wisdom
Through the years, however, the lived-experience voice of Jenni Schaefer, and the wisdom of her experience expressed in Life Without Ed has stayed beside and within me. Back in 2004, with the help of my treatment team, I had dug through almost all of the layers of the eating disorder in my determined to reconnect with self. Just a few more yards or meters to go.
This was the point when my dietician, who had been helping me to learn mindfulness techniques, and skills in externalizing the illness thoughts, recommended a new book: Life Without Ed. I bought it immediately and devoured it in a day. I felt the author, Jenni, was speaking directly to me, understanding me perfectly. She helped me ‘over the line’. She was in the USA and I was in Australia. We didn’t even talk. But Life Without Ed helped me to reconnect with True June, helped me to work out who I was, and refuse to allow the eating disorder to be a boss and rule my life any more.
Pivotal Role in Healing Journey
Many exciting events have occurred in the interceding years from 2004 to today. I met Jenni, one of my ‘recovery heroes’, at a NEDA conference in the USA. We each have both written more books and excitingly we collaborated with Prof Timothy Brewerton with a presentation on What Eating Disorder Professionals need to know about Trauma and PTSD: A Personal and Professional Perspective for the 2016 Academy for Eating Disorders Conference in San Francisco.
The opportunity to partner with Jenni in creating this presentation led to me sharing with her, the pivotal role that her first edition of Life Without Ed played in my healing journey.
A Book for Today and All Tomorrows
Jenni inspires me afresh in learning to manage any new health challenges, to enable writing and advocacy passions to continue. Her gift, and its serendipitous timing, is the best tonic!
I love her writing style — candid, free-flowing, engaging, reflective, encouraging, all with a magical humorous touch, that produces a global message packed full of hard-won wisdom. Her anniversary book stands proudly on my bookshelf, together with her other books, and is an important resource in my Ph.D. creative work, Using Writing as a Therapy for Eating Disorders – The Diary Healer.
In Words and Voice
The purchase options for Life Without Ed are listed on this page. This includes reference to the Life Without Ed audiobook. Jenni recorded this audiobook herself in a studio in Austin. It took weeks to record the entire book! So, no matter where you live in the world, you can now not only read Jenni’s book, but also hear her voice. People can even listen to excerpts for free here. Oh, and here is a link to an excerpt from the Life Without Ed Afterword.
I have written nine books about eating disorders since my recovery (my “reconnection with true self”) from anorexia nervosa and other long term mental health challenges in 2006. In 2017, I graduated as a Doctor of Philosophy (Creative Writing). My contribution to the eating disorder field was recognised at the 2016 Academy for Eating Disorders International Conference in San Francisco where I was awarded the Meehan/Hartley Award for Public Service and Advocacy. I am currently a co-chair of the NEDC Steering Committee Evidence of Experience Group, a foundation steering committee member of the annual World Eating Disorders Action Day, and an Advisory Panel member for F.E.A.S.T.