Move the Sofa, Patch the Roof

This is the title of a chapter from Jenni Schaefer's book Life Without Ed. It deals with relapse and, more importantly, getting out of relapse. The theory is this: if your roof is leaking, you don't watch the water fall on your nice sofa and just wring your hands. Nope. You move the sofa and have the roof fixed.

It's a brilliant theory, and one that really needs to be applied not only to relapse but to ED treatment in the first place. Patch the roof; stop behaviors.

What triggered this chapter in my life today was much more literal.

Remember when my ceiling caved in back in January? It's leaked twice in the past week. Twice. Thankfully, nothing was damaged this time. But I'm going to be delivering a long tirade to management about their crap roof.

Which brings me back to the analogies. So you move the couch and patch the roof. Yay, you. And then the roof leaks again. So you patch it better. Yay, you again. The problem comes when the roof keeps leaking. Face it: the patch ain't doing the trick.

For a lot of my treatment, my insurance would (oh so graciously) allow the doctors to admit me to the hospital because of medical and psychiatric instability. Move the couch. I would gain weight. Patch the roof.

The problem was, the couch wasn't moved until it was already soaked. At 65% IBW, mildew was setting in. The couch was fairly ruined- it was more like a waterbed than a couch. But, says the noble health insurance company, we will pay to have it dry cleaned! And we'll paint the ceiling! Be happy! We don't have to do this!*

And on the day (and I do mean the exact day) I hit 85% IBW, I would be discharged. The roof was patched. I was good to go. Move the sofa back and get on with life.

The roof would leak again. Why? Any roofer looking at the patch would say they basically put a band-aid on a bullet hole. It looked better, but not a whole hell of a lot was fixed. Dry clean the couch, patch the roof.

Soon, of course, no one was willing to pay to patch the ceiling anymore. Clearly, there was something wrong with ME if my ceiling was still leaking. They had done their job. They had replaced the drywall, painted over the rust spots, added a support or two. Except the problem wasn't my ceiling; it was the roof itself. Someone needed to call in the big guns, the professional roofers, to get to the root of the problem and fix the roof once and for all. To bring my weight back up to the range where my biology meant it to be.

That would be expensive, I was told. Too expensive. I was on my own.

The irony is that, with all of the couch cleaning and ceiling patching, to have just re-roofed the place immediately would have been cheaper in the long run. Insurance companies don't think that way, however.

Apartment management is being like insurance companies. Fix the damn roof already! I want to scream. Pay for adequate treatment! Couches are being ruined, people are dying. If the patch keeps breaking, maybe you don't need another patch, a more sophisticated patch. Maybe you need a new roof.

Here's my idea for a new eating disorders roof:

  • Don't accept anything less than 100% IBW and total cessation of ED thoughts and behaviors.
  • Don't accept formal calculations of IBW; use growth charts, DNA, and a good helping of common sense.
  • Weight restoration is only the first step. Healthy weight doesn't equal healthy mind.
  • Don't blame people for "not moving the couch in time." The past is past. Let's move on.
  • Enlist everyone possible to move the couch and keep it out of the way while the roof is fixed.
  • And pay for treatment so that people have a roof to lay under when they are done with everything. Health care is a right, not a privilege. Don't make people feel guilty for something they had no control over.

*Does anyone else get pissed off when they see the ads from the health insurance companies saying how they care about the health of the people? BCBS of Michigan says that they will NEVER terminate you because of illness. Nope. They'll just stop paying for anything. That just frosts my cookies.

**Except BCBS will punish you for eating those cookies they just frosted because the frosting has trans fats which will make you fat and then you will get sick and die. Which is, like, all your fault.

posted under , , , |


emmy. said...

ok, first of all, i LOVED that chapter. it's such a genius way to look at it. how can you go against such a great metaphor? i wouldn't let my roof leak... i'd patch that bitch up! and i won't let my weight leak either.
i love reading your blog. i love reading about people who REALLY have their grip on recovery. it makes me so damn happy.

second... i can't drink the powder carnation - i'll try it with boost...or maybe the carnation that comes in the juicebox type packaging. that sounds INCREDIBLE. i'll definitely post your recipe. mmm anything with redi-whip and/or premium coffee ice cream is perfect in my book, haha. thanks for sharing!

man, i wish i had coffee ice cream right now...

Laura Collins said...

Smashing analogy! Works on every level.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely brilliant. Mind if I link to this on Disordered Times?

Jeanne said...

Absolutely right on, carrie!!!

Awesome analogy and so true... unfortunately.

thinking of you,

jenna said...

nice one.....brilliantly're good Carrie

carrie said...

Why thank you all.


Go for it. No need to ask. :)

Carlo said...

Good Job! :)

Sophia James said...

You have got shared, I do favor it abundantly. Liquid Rubber Roof has introduced several advantages. I do suppose you with low budget but exclusive quality you may get it.

Post a Comment

Newer Post Older Post Home

ED Bites on Facebook!

ED Bites is on Twitter!

Search ED Bites

About Me

My photo
I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

Drop me a line!

Have any questions or comments about this blog? Feel free to email me at

nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


Popular Posts


Recent Comments