TNT is starting a therapy group, and she wants me to go.  The group is CBT-based, and it's sort of an "Advanced Recovery Skills" group.  In order to attend, you need to be asymptomatic in your ED and at least decently into recovery.  I fit the bill, and TNT wants me to come.  She says "it will be good for you."

I think all therapists say this when they know you're going to object to their advice.  It's in the Therapist's Handbook that provides scripts like "Tell me about your mother," and "How does that make you feel?"  Okay, I'm being somewhat sarcastic, but still.  I definitely have mixed feelings about group therapy.

I agreed to go, and I had to commit for the first month.  So four Mondays, 1.5 hours each week, 6 hours total.

But still I worry.

I worry I will have nothing to say or contribute.  I worry I will be either too utterly mental or too normal.  I worry the group will turn into a competition-fest.  I worry that no one else will think I should be there.  I worry I will waste everyone's time.

And yes, sad to say, I worry a lot that I will be the fattest one there.  I've already gained over my target weight--significantly over my target weight.  Whether that means the initial target was wrong or that my body wants to hang onto some extra weight because of the years of starvation, I'm not sure.  So yes, I am very uncomfortable with my weight right now.  It's worse because I have no idea of my actual size (I know, I can look at the tags on my jeans, but unless I know everyone else's pant size, I have no real way to compare), and so all I can do is obsess about how large I really am.

I know EDs can come in any shape and size.  I know that.  This comparison is much more of an internal thing.  It's competition combined with body dysmorphia combined with the fact that I have no real idea how big my ass is.  When I see pictures of myself from New York two weeks ago, all I can see is how huge I am.  It blots everything else out.  I get panicky and start to feel ill. I'm HUGE compared to everyone else.  And I'm so disgusted I kind of want to throw up.

This is the part that TNT thinks would be really good for me to deal with in group.  That would be a fantastic group icebreaker: "I feel like the fattest one here. Let's discuss." 

So, yeah, group therapy.  This should be really interesting...


Peregrine said...

Congratulations on your courage for taking your TNT's advice--as a complete turtle/introvert I can relate so entirely to every reservation and concern you listed here. But what a victory to be at this stage and strong enough to contribute to the group. I hope the environment will be supportive, non-triggering, and non-competitive.

Really I just wanted to comment to give you a big hug and say it's only your ED brain that's making you feel 'huge.' Sorry, honey--you're a beautiful, and very petite, woman. I too have way overshot my target weight and am substantially more solid than I have been in years. But I'm also stronger and more resilient than I have been in years. I went swimming this week, blocked out all thoughts of how my bathing suit must look, and had the most wonderful half-hour of breathless doggy-paddling. I still feel huge most of the time, with the same fear and disgust as when I was 1/4 of my weight lighter. But now I also have moments--even hours--of feeling NORMAL. Not frail, not fragile, not weak--strong and alive. And that's pretty cool.

All of which is to say--you are awesome. you are beautiful. you inspire your stranger-friends. and you are healing.


ex ana said...

Carrie, thanks for sharing your doubts. You will do a 'very good job' there. Why? Reading your blog we understand that. The right way is not ignoring the doubts and the contradictory feelings.

Ashley said...

I agree with a poster above that you should discuss your doubts. It would spark for a very good discussion, IMO! Good luck.

Libby said...

FWIW... I've never been in an ED therapy group, but I did attend a "family issues" group for almost a year, and I attended two shorter-term rape survivor groups. I was totally terrified to attend for all of the reasons you've mentioned. But honestly, the group experiences have been some of the most healing ones I've had. And even though it's been years since I've been in the groups, I still think about the group members all the time and wonder how they're doing. I really, really hope this is as good of an experience for you.

From Here to There. In Purple. said...

"I worry I will be the fattest one there"... excuse me, miss! no one in attendence of the group is FAT. do you see how the wording can completely transform your emotions? I understand your fear and worry, but that's part of facing recovery-- we must do what we fear most bc its the only way to overcome it.good ulck love

Renee said...

I always resisted group treatment for my ED, for many of the reasons you mentioned. And it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. I loved those girls and I miss them now. We were all of different shapes and sizes. And because you express yourself so well, Carrie, I know you'll have a lot to offer. They will be lucky to have you as a new member!

I Hate to Weight said...

What is fat? Such a strange concept, isn't it? That little three letter words defeats us, before we even get dressed.

Don't let that word cut you down at the knees.

i do like what your therapist suggested -- i'd bet every woman in the room feels the same way -- in her mind, she is the fattest one there.

Good luck.

the letting go said...

I have similar fears to yours, but I think I'm going to attend one in the near future. Now it's just a matter of finding one. . . maybe I should ask my therapist.

Carrie Arnold said...

My goodness. I'm crying with joy and respect for my wonderful readers.

A good night's sleep helped my mind tremendously. TNT is good, and these are all her patients that she hand-picked for this group, so she would have rooted out anyone overtly inappropriate.

I really do need to tackle the remaining issues (body dysmorphia, massive anxiety, perfectionism, avoidance, social issues) head-on, and what better place.

PS- Peregrine, I printed out your response. I get misty just thinking about it.

Niika said...

I bet one reason she wants you to tackle said issues in group is because, likely, a lot of the other people in the group feel the exact same way as you do. Having fairly recently done IOP for my ED, I can tell you that you will be astounded at the things you'll have in common with the other people in your group. I distinctly recall a lot of head nodding and agreement with basically all of the ED-type thoughts that people expressed in my groups, and I suspect it will be similar for you.

Renee said...

Carrie, I have a question for you, but I am concerned it may be triggering for others to read. Is it possible to private-message you?

Carrie Arnold said...


Email me at I used to have my email posted more prominently until it got me way too much spam to handle, so I keep it buried in my profile.

Renee said...

Thanks, Carrie. I guess I can say it here - I am just wondering what keeps you from trying to negotiate about your weight. I don't want to go back to where I used to be, scrawny and starving and cold, but there is about a 10 pound difference between where "they" want me to be and where I'd like to be. And I am finding it harder to keep on those last 10. I keep telling myself that this time will be different, I won't lose any more than 10. I am not stupid, I know this is all ED talking. But still, lately it's all I can hear. How do you stay so resolute, even though you feel "fat"?

Carrie Arnold said...


That's a great question, so I think I'm going to devote a whole blog post to it. Right now, I'm completely knackered, but I will tackle it first thing in the morning.


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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.

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