Pathologising Our Power By Exacerbating Our Pain with Sarah Vancini

By Angela Gallo

Pathologising Our Power By Exacerbating Our Pain with Sarah Vancini

I know deep within my heart that this episode is going to be full of content that resonates with many of you. Today on the show we have Sarah Vancini. We are going to be discussing all things eating disorders, eating disorder recovery and the magic and the disruption that Sarah is creating through her lived experiences. We’re living in a culture that benefits from keeping us unwell and making us feel as if we are crazy. Instead of complaining about the system, we’re diving into how we can change the system, change the culture and create a new construct. 

As a professional in clinical care and research at the consistently #1 ranked psychiatric hospital in the world (U.S. News & World Report), McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA, Sarah was profoundly impacted by the misogyny that occurred when diagnosing and treating female patients. She forewent her PhD in order to earn her MBA in the hopes of developing a new economic model for focusing on mental health from a matriarchal perspective. Sarah focuses on eating disorders, anxiety, depression, PTSD and borderline personality disorder. She has just completed her first book "Goddess's Guide to Eating Disorder Recovery", a self-help book for eating disorder recovery examining cultural influences and providing female-centred treatment recommendations.

The book is not only empirical but also deeply personal and moving, as her own journey of eating disorder recovery is woven seamlessly into the guide. 

To get this book out into the world, Sarah is seeking to partner with a forward-thinking publishing agency and begin to establish seminars and support groups in her home of Boston to inspire change in mental health treatment for women.

— SOME TOPICS WE COVER: —

  • Living and dealing with an eating disorder, depression and anxiety.
  • Fighting your way out through mindfulness and meditation, understanding the root of the issues and not using band-aid solutions.
  • Suffering as a result of a system that keeps us sick. 
  • Understanding that emotions are normal and not necessarily issues of “mental health”

— WHERE TO FIND SARAH: —

Instagram - @goddessofedrecovery

Email - svancini@vu.edu

Positive Body Image and Badass Confidence Conference in Cambridge, MA,
January 25, 2020 - pbiandbc.com

 

— SPECIAL OFFER —

Promotion code: ANGEL

Sarah has been kind enough to offer the first 5 sign ups to the Positive Body Image and Badass Confidence Conference a special discount using the code

pbiandbc.com

— FULL TRANSCRIPT —

Angel:  Hello everybody, it is me your girl Anj Ganj, and we have got a confronting beautiful episode for you today. I know deep within my heart that it is going to be content that resonates with many of you. Today on the show, we have Sarah, aka @goddessofedrecovery or Goddess of ED on Instagram. We're going to be discussing all things eating disorders, eating disorder recovery, and the magic and the disruption that this broad is creating in the sphere where the conversation around eating disorder is, let's just say polarising, and very much a complete undermining of the human experience and completely undermining of how intense of an experience it is to be participating in an economy that wants to keep you insecure and wants to keep you unwell in order for you to continue falling in line.

Now, the basis of this whole fucking show is slaying the status quo. Because my supreme passion is self-love and self-ownership, and giving people the tools they need to love themselves unequivocally and take up space unapologetically, I'm so excited to have Sarah here so we can start discussing not how can we complain about the system, but how are we actually going to create a new construct and and really just build a new house with better integrity, with better structure that can really support the whole human experience in and out of how we perceive ourselves and how the world perceives us. Everybody, welcome Sarah. Whoo. How are you?

Sarah: I'm good. You are such a genius.

Angel: Do you like my 7:00 AM introduction of you? Are you impressed?

Sarah: Oh, my God. Can I hire you to come to my house every morning or just give me a call, a wake-up call to start my day?

Angel: Gladly. Do you know how many times I have people ask me to make them voice mails? A little audio thing that they could play on loop to be like, you're the best, you're the best, you're the best, like 90s feedback loop. Yes, I can absolutely make that happen for you. Thank you for being here, Sarah. I want you to tell everybody who the fuck it is you are and why they should be paying attention.

Sarah: Well, holly up. First, I need to introduce myself not just as someone who scientifically or empirically is evaluating our economy, eating disorders, depression, anxiety. I fucking lived it, right? Most of my insights, the points that we're going to talk about today that are going to give you goosebumps, and you're going to feel like, holy shit, Sarah has been there. Those moments are from me actually being there. Me feeling depressed, me being so anxious, worrying about my body feeling the fat on my body and in different clothes. I'm really using those experiences as my motherfucking microphone. This is going to amplify my message. This does not detract from my message or make me biased, this just amplifies my knowledge, my insight to get to you, ultimately,

Angel: Can I just say something? Ex-squeeze me. This is very important to what you just said because we live in a culture that, in fact, exacerbates empathy deficits and exacerbates the ways that we disconnect and disengage from other people by specifically removing our personal experiences from the discourse and learning experience. Doctors or psychologists or fucking even doulas are told, don't share your personal experience, only operate from the book. This in itself is absolute horseshit, and it's contributing to the problem.

Phenomenology, particularly the new phenomenology is the basis that one should only be teaching from a place of personal experience. One should only be teaching from a place of living in my body, in my loin, in my heart experience because it is from there that the most authentic and the most soul-fired, the most genuine work you can make is born.

This is important because, particularly, in something that, for example, mental health, it's like, who are you to be telling me how to live when you are simply a drone who is operating in a textbook, right? The model of how we approach mental health, how we approach eating disorders, anxiety, postnatal depression, whatever it might be, is a simplification of reality, it is not reality.

Therefore, the only way to truly disrupt that system and help people feel seen and heard and really supported is to rewind and go, "Okay, how about we stop fucking making a simplification of reality, and a simplification of pain, and a simplification of what it means to be human and actually start showing up like a fucking human, which is a mess?" That's how you overall things. I'm so happy that you kicked that off by saying that because I'm not interested in anybody who tries to teach it from the status quo. I am so interested in bad bitches who are teaching from the heart.

Sarah: Yes. My mama, that's fucking on point. I love it. I'm just filled with energy right now. I think a huge part of the status quo right now in our narrow mindedness has to do with looking at symptoms, right? Whether we're talking about childbirth, and the "pathology of labour pains" in that experience, or we're talking about not wanting to get up out of bed, or social anxiety.

The question for the health care system is always, how do we eradicate those symptoms for our patients? That's a very masculine way of thinking about things. We definitely need that type of single-mindedness, but we also need a more feminine holistic approach where we're asking, "Those are symptoms of a problem. What the hell is that problem? What does it look like? Let's get down to it and solve it." We are missing that holistic, that big-picture vision and we're getting stuck in the narrowness of things.

Angel: Sarah, I actually have this really, really huge ethos, huge belief system that, in fact, the pathology of everything, the pathologising of everything and the extreme focus on symptoms-- and I mean, we could literally call it the obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Everything that is the world and the way we try and fix problems is crisis control. It is symptomatic. It is very orchestrated so that the people who are at the root of the issue avoid responsibility.

The more we keep people focused on the symptom, how uncomfortable they are, how unhappy they are, how depressed they are, the more we keep them feeling like it is their fault and that they need someone else to fix that problem versus they're experiencing it within their body because they are reacting to a root issue, because their body is crying out for to pay attention to this and pay attention to that and that is a rebellious thing and people, it scares the shit out of them, and a lot of people want to keep living in that pathologised world. They want to keep believing that it's not them, that they need everybody else to help them.

I'm sure you've seen it yourself, obviously in your work and the conversations you have. That in itself is revolutionary, of understanding like we are suffering because of a system. We are not symptomatic. We are suffering because of a system. We are not symptomatic. This symptom is just literally something that is a byproduct of how we are reacting organically to mechanics that are being shoved down our mouth that we are not built for. Therefore, the cells in your body are screaming, "This is not right. This is not right. This is not right. This is not right," but nobody tries to help you. They just layer and layer and layer band-aid solutions. They create more pathology, which basically creates this whole web where every person who is remotely insecure or remotely vulnerable finds themselves ensnared in.

Sarah: 100%. That's a great summary of my work actually. That's a big picture of something that encompasses multiple industries, particularly in healthcare. I want to dive a little bit deeper into what that actually looks like. How does that play out within depression, anxiety, eating disorders?

Angel: Okay, Sarah, so for everybody who is not necessarily aware of your beginnings, your point of origin and where you were reborn into the mission you find yourself right now. I want to know what puts you on the path of slaying the status quo of all things, eating disorder, eating disorder recovery, mental health, et cetera.

Sarah: I've had anxiety, depression and eating disorder since I was in the first grade. It reached its pinnacle when I was 21. I wasn't functioning. I was in an abusive relationship. I wasn't getting out of bed. I felt like there was no hope. It led me to put trust in the mental health system and in self-help. I learned a lot of mindfulness, a lot of thinking techniques to help alleviate those symptoms. I pulled myself out of a deep, dark depression. I felt very confident. I was working at the best mental hospital in the world. I was in graduate school, getting my Master's in Business Administration. I was publishing papers. I had started a chapter of a nonprofit. I was ready to go.

Then everything, of course, comes crashing down because I, Sarah Vancini needed to level up in my life in a way that I didn't know. That the universe knew for me and said, “Sarah, I'm going to give you a hell of a lot of pain now. You need to use this pain when you come out of it to tell other people what the hell is going on here.” My eating disorder symptoms start to increase again, no matter how much I meditated or went to therapy. Nothing was helping. I felt completely lost, completely terrified that my old way of doing things just wasn't working for me anymore.

That's when I started questioning, are we really doing the right thing in the healthcare system? What was missing for me? I'm following everything that the doctors are telling me to do. What's really missing? That's when I started looking at our culture, how 50% of us will meet diagnostic criteria for mental illness in our lifetime. What is that thing that is making us all sick and making us all relapse back into symptoms? I really took a look, a more of a cultural look at things.

Angel: I have so many questions, and so much I want to say. I'm trying so hard not to jump in and be like “yup, yup, yup”. Because do you know what every person who comes on to this podcast has in common, including myself? It is, "I once placed all my trust in a system. I did this for a long time. I didn't ask questions and I suffered. As a result of it, and as a, again, falling to my knees and going to the darkest deepest fucking pits of my belly and doing it on my own and reinventing the ways I do things in a way that is not just what the system regurgitates, I learned to distrust the system and trust myself."

This is important because every single rebel, revolutionary, slayer of the status quo, like you'll hear the people on the show and they're like confident. They know what the fuck it is they're talking about, because why would they doubt what they mean or what they say or how they feel when they know how hard they have worked to prove themselves wrong? That's the distinction is that when you put all of that trust in the system, you don't want to distrust them. You want to believe that they can help you. When you do that much, and you suffer that much and you prove yourself wrong, it's like you're never going to go back because it's like the veil has been lifted.

Secondly, I just went recently to a History of Psychiatry Museum. I am just beyond fascinated with everything that is mental health, pharmaceuticals-- and really not to sound like an asshole, something that is very specific to America, and by which was something that Europe used to do. Something archaic that Europe used to do, particularly Northern European countries that America is still doing. In this specific museum, I cried the entire way through. As you can imagine, they had a whole section on childbirth. The womb, and women and people and the things that they did and how psychiatric medicine was founded, where it came from, where this approach came from. I swear to God on my life's children, all I could think about was, "Holy fuck is everybody else sleeping? Like how does nobody see that this does not work?"

One of the most profound things in that museum that marries what you just said, that 50% of us will meet the criteria for a diagnosis of mental health. What the fuck are these parameters? First of all, that everybody can fit into them. They had a video there, where they sent one person and they just told that person who was very much fine to say four things, four “symptoms” and see what each psychologist, psychiatrist would say. This guy went to, I don't even know how many facilities and every single one of them gave him a different diagnosis in one visit. Medication offered in one visit. This is important because how are we distinguishing what is mental health and what is not? How are we recognising the addiction to our suffering and our struggle versus actual mental health problems? How are we distinguishing what actually needs paying attention to and who needs help versus the people that we are medicating because we want to avoid helping them? That was really mind-blowing for me, particularly in childbirth.

In the postpartum world, where postpartum depression, psychosis, anxiety are literally the exact same symptoms as exhaustion and fatigue. The work that I do in this sphere is bringing it back to the AS. Often, if I literally just work through every goddamn token on that list, which is fatigue, and fluids and food and fun and friendship, almost overnight those symptoms which would have been diagnosed as psychosis or anxiety disappear. This is really important. It's not just how everybody fits into that, it's who made these parameters, why is everyone so unwell? Then as you said, what the fuck is the system doing to make everybody feel so afraid and so sick? I love that you said that.

Now, because something like eating disorders, for example, is one of those, dare I say, cyclonic human experiences. It is all-consuming. It is born inside of you and it lives inside of you in a way that is visceral. Like it's the same place in which most people have to sustain themselves and nourish themselves and fuel their every move in someone who is living an eating disorder and that anxiety and depression every day. There is a continuous energy leak. If we just revisit everything I just said, was it difficult for you at the peak of your un-wellness or disconnection from your body or confusion or total trust in the system? Was there something in that peak that made you feel like deep within you something is not right? Did you know even then?

Sarah: Yes. It's such a telling point, and something very relatable, I think for all women. In that moment, when I -- Clearly I'm an intelligent human being, successful human being, I know this shit is not working. I know my symptoms are no longer being alleviated or my symptoms are just merely changing form. I know something's off. What's off? It's myself. We all think, "What the hell is wrong with me? Why am I such a fuck-up? What's wrong with me for being so attached to people or for getting so upset about this or for comparing my body to everyone else?" It's me, me, me, me and that is built on a precedent of not understanding the way female minds work. Right? Let me say that again. We have pathologised. We have developed mental illnesses based on characteristics of the female brain.

Angel: Oh. Hm

Sarah: Of course, of course, I'm exhibiting these symptoms of anxiety when a relationship is ending or of course I'm feeling depressed when my friend is going through a hard time. We are so fucking connected. Our periods align when we are spending time with people we care about. There are measurable energetic connections between us, for women in particular that bind us. We have pathologised that power.

Angel: Excuse me. Everybody stop what you are doing and get that tattooed on your head. We have pathologised our power. Our power has been pathologised by those seeking to monetise our power. Our power has been pathologised by those seeking to capitalise on our power and the fucking way they do that is exacerbating your pain. What you just said about empathy, highly sensitive people. Do you know why the whole world is fucking sick? Because we're feeling what everybody else is experiencing and nobody's having the conversation and nobody's connecting to each other. All of the things that make us magical are being turned on us as if we're some lunatics and the culture of it. Oh, God, I'm sorry to interrupt you but it's like, take me to church. Thank you, Sarah. Keep going.

Sarah: It's very convenient, right? For the people who hold power now. Who have worked their whole careers understanding this system that's been in place for maximum 100 years, maybe 70 years, right? They don't want to let go of those constructs because that's what gives them power. That's what they understand. That is what they've been successful in, the people that are dominating the healthcare industry. But for me, that's not a good enough excuse. That's not empirical evidence for me that this is working. That's just not good enough. I am asking the hard questions. I'm saying, "No, no. It's very easy for me to find my patients and say, 'These are the traumas you went through. This is the genetic predisposition and I can see how this cocktail resulted in the symptoms for you.'" It's much harder for me to actually step back and say, "Wait. 50% of people are suffering. Is there some genetic thing going on? Do we have more traumas going on?" and the answer's no and no.

It must lie in some cultural, shared environmental experience that we are all having. I believe strongly that this has to do with the way our marketing and sales strategies are manipulating and feeding into the purchase anxiety cycle. How we have insane amounts of shame about who we really are, how we look, our mannerisms, our true personality because our sense of what the average is or what's attractive is so skewed. You cannot be a living, breathing, attached, loving, caressing human being and not be affected by this way.

Angel: For anybody who doesn't know this, I think I mentioned that on the show already, all I have is a high school degree. I don't have any college or university training and I actually rolled into communications in cinema because I love cinema. One of the modalities was marketing and advertising. I dropped out probably three months into this because when we went into this, we started the marketing and advertising class it felt so gross and I mean, I wouldn't have known then what I know now. This is so so long ago but I remember sitting there and I remember kind of piping up and being like, "This is manipulative. Like there's nothing that is remotely human about what it is you're doing. You're exploiting the other person and really exploding their vulnerabilities, their insecurities and their impulsiveness in order to sway them into doing something."

My teacher said, "Yeah, honey, that's the basis of advertising." And I was like, "What the fuck?" and it took me back to when I used to teach catechism in church as a young child. This child, this kid that I was teaching asked me what happens when you masturbate? and I'm like, "Nothing, have a good time." And then one of the teachers were like, "You need to tell him that he goes to hell," and I was like, "Fuck you, lady," and I left and then I left this marketing class and it was like, "Oh my God," and this is precisely what the issue is, isn't it? We consume, right? We create. We consume. That's what humans do and this is not a bad thing. The problem is how it's exploited then by people who create these environments where we basically fester and thrive like candida and you put it on a pile of yeast and sugar. We're like, of course, we're going to spontaneously combust. Of course, we're going to feel like shit about ourselves because if we don't feel like shit about ourselves, the marketing and advertising doesn't work.

I don't know if you agree with this, I'm going to say that you will. I really believe within every fibre of my everything and everything I was and everything that I'm going to be that self-love and self-ownership is actually the antidote to every single one of these problems because when you really lean within yourself and you fall in love with who it is you are and your so convicted and anchored in that love for yourself, nothing can sway you. When you start to learn like your cycle, your moods, how you feel, the natural rhythm of who it is you are, what empathy means, what highly sensitive superpowers are, how we are meant to be together and bleeding together and suffering together and experiencing joy together it is literally the most rapturous, liberating concept ever and so, capitalism in terms of specific ages of capitalism, because it's not money-- and I'm going to be very clear about something. When Sarah and I discuss economy, this is not that we're complaining about money or wealth or purchasing. It's not.

The issue is the patriarchal aspects of capitalism, which will literally thrive and can only thrive without self love and without self ownership because the moment there is that gap you will look for it to be filled or remedied elsewhere and this is where you see things like that hyper-productivity, hyper-consumption where they needed to rip people away from themselves and their bodies and their communities in order for them to be as vulnerable and as broken as possible. Those are the people that spend the most money in mental health and buying things and then being depressed. It's just this-- this is why I said before, cyclonic-- and I really feel like the lick of self-love is the greatest gift that you can impart on people. This is again a concept when I'm talking about it out loud but hearing you say this, only just for me affirms how much I believe in this, like showing people how to be authentic and love themselves because that average you spoke about? Even that word. How gross is the word "average"?

Like, how are you supposed to tell me that in 7 billion-plus people on this planet, there's an average? Are you kidding me? That you're going to tell me that basically every single one of us is meant to look like one cut and copy-paste model that Karl Lagerfeld decides is beautiful and worthy of attention and desirable? What kind of crock of shit is that? We know it's not true. This is the worst part. We're all creating anxieties off of an unsubstantiated reality. Often unrealistic notion. That's the part that blows my mind. If I were to ask you about what your symptoms look like, when you were feeling disconnected to Source, disconnected from your awareness and really in the throes of your eating disorders. What did that look like? How did that feel like in your body?

Sarah: What I became really, really stellar at when I was trusting the mental health system. I became stellar at being this blank sheet. I would use all the therapeutic

techniques and the meditation, the mindfulness, the teachings that you are not your emotions, you are not your thoughts. I would disassociate from all the things that were going on in my body. I would believe that there's some separate person from the emotions and the thoughts that I'm experiencing. I would pathologise those emotions and those thoughts. I felt like a ghost. I felt like I was looking at the most charismatic way to be the most "beautiful" way to look and I was aspiring to be that rather than saying, "No, no, no. I am going to try to figure out what it is inside of me because I am my thoughts. I am my feelings. Those are secret. Those are powerhouses of information that I'm missing out on that I am pathologising." It's really like just getting back into connection with who the fuck you are and you might be surprised who the hell that person is.

Angel: I can't even deal. I really cannot even deal. Your words are just like the hot edge of a dagger. It is just so stunning. Can you tell me when was the first moment that you started to fall back in love with yourself? This has been a process no doubt, but when was the first time that you really told yourself something beautiful and meant it, like as I step on to this recovery of falling back in love with yourself?

Sarah: I think I first had to get to know myself, right? That was step one and that's the biggest step. What are my real thoughts? What are my real feelings like what are my values? What values am I going to live by? The feelings I get of self-love today and my first feelings of self-love came from taking the time to figure out what my morals were and enacting those and knowing that my morals are going to be different from other people. That people are going to be upset by the decisions that I make and that doesn't matter as long as I'm staying true to my morals, holding myself accountable. That's where my self-love comes from.

Angel: You're really, really amazing. I want to -- I'm really trying hard not to cry because it's the first day of my bleed and I'm just listening to this and thinking like, thank fuck, that people like you will exist when my daughter is growing, and this is the kind of information that my son can hear this kind of insight. I think that this podcast, even if it just exists to be a digital recollection of lessons and insights and inspiration for my children, it will have been worth everything. Like this kind of show is revolutionary.

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Angel: Now there's a couple of things that you said on your Instagram that I want to reference. One was a repost but I do want to just want to kind of kick it off with this. This is "pretty is not the rent you pay to exist in this world as a woman," and I want everybody to really hear me when I say this, okay? Pretty is not the rent you pay to exist in this world as a woman and for so many of us, being beautiful and the obsession with being beautiful comes with this very hardwired belief that it is the only way that we can be safe or be kept because for generations, this was your domestic role. Your God-given responsibility. You’re not wanting to be burned at the stake. You’re wanting not to be cast out and be included. What happened in that process is a lot of people feeling it within their body, like "This is not right. My meaning is more than this," they went into the other side which is very radical feminism ideologies where, "I don't have to be pretty and in fact, I don't want to be pretty because that's buying into this system."

I see this all the time with the self-love movement. It's like -- I won't even go there but this is important. I want to say that, "pretty is not the rent you pay to exist in this world as a woman". Fuck no. However, feeling beautiful for myself is absolutely the way that I ordain and decorate my divinity and it is going to be the rent that I-- not that I pay but the way that I earn the right to take up space in my body by loving myself fucking fiercely. Now, I look at pretty as my, "Fuck pretty, it's my power." Like how am I literally treating myself like a goddess and seeing myself as a goddess versus comparing myself to everybody else and wanting to be like everybody else? Or wanting to be "pretty" like everybody else so that I can exist in the world because I've earned this space. It's just this really important place to go because I'm sure you can understand, like so many people really believe it's the only way that they can exist in this world.

Then again, the other opposites who are afraid of being raped walking down the street or being murdered or sexually assaulted or anything. It's like we're always dancing on this fine line of fuckery. It's never enough or too much. It's again the aesthetics of everything that have been robbed from us because they are important to a point where we start to despise it. Then on the other side, it's like, "Hold on, because I want to tell you so that you are stunning. You're a beautiful, exceptional creature, who is not only stunning on the eyes but like your aura is just absolutely really truly angelic like beautiful and it's important for me to still say, 'Yes, you are pretty,' but you are so much more than that and buy into it". How do you look at the word pretty? Like how do you look at the word beautiful? Are they still things that trigger you or remind you where you've come from? Is it still something that detracts from where you're going? Are you able to sit within the self-love aspect that is like compliments, love and celebration?

Sarah: This is a very, very important point that I'm going to make. It is our strongest evolutionary drive as a female to be socially included, to be seen as part of the in-group. Okay? We can get every single one of our needs, water, food, safety, shelter met through community and through identifying as part of a group. Now, when we look at all the features that we see in person and also in the media, we then look at ourselves and compare ourselves to the average of all the faces we see. Let me say, again, it doesn't matter if those faces are on a screen or are in real life. They will subconsciously impact what your average is equally. Your average is getting skewed farther away from who you are and so to me, the word pretty represents that average whatever that is in the moment. That is pretty to me. Like, if you ask me what's pretty? Is that triggering for you? It's not triggering. It's just fucking lame. Like, who wants to be that? Like, fuck no. I want to be badass. I want to be a rebel. I want to be and express and celebrate all of these beautiful fucking character traits of mine. Being pretty like being a fucking follower. Like, no thank you.

Angel: You know what? I feel like, pretty. It's so patronising. When my dad used to say that, I'd be like gross. Like, "You're just so cute and pretty." I'm like, "Fuck off." Like, I want to be like beautiful, luscious, stunning, remarkable, angelic, clever, rebellious, fucking wild, like, give me something that takes up space in my mouth. Don't give me pretty. What the fuck is pretty? And frankly, let me tell you, if I had to pay rent to take up space in this world as a woman, I would be using much bigger words than pretty, okay? Much bigger words because the way I pay my rent in this world is how I show up in my integrity as a human in the same fucking way as you. Okay. Another thing is you said something and it was like, "Oh, your recovery." Again, this is at @goddessofedrecovery on Instagram, everyone. Recovery means that I get to work full time destroying the constructs which made me sick. It means that I get to write the book of my dreams, be interviewed by my idol, put together a workshop by badass women for badass women. #thriving, #edrecovery.

Why is this important? First of all, like I just love what you said in all the degrees, is that your reframe on this is just as important in the annihilating of the things that made you ill, as in anything else, because the way you reframe this, so many people avoid recovery and relapse from recovery because of the really distorted homeostasis of it all like the reverting back to the misery because it feels more comfortable. Feeling like it's their identity. They cannot move beyond that, right? It's the coming into the addicted to the suffering, wanting to be taken care of, et cetera, et cetera. The way that you said this was like holy shitballs on a stick. Can you please touch base on this, like the power of your reframe in the recovery period?

Sarah: Often, when people enter recovery, it's been my experience that they are in a sense reborn, right? They get all of these opportunities. They have this energy. They have the resources to live a life of wealth and prosperity and connection. What is a lot more difficult is not necessarily to rebirth your life but to carry the weight of your pain, your suffering and therefore the insights that you garnered from that pain and that suffering with you, as you enter the next life. That is the hard part. For me, my whole life, my career is a fucking love letter to all of the pain that I've been through. I need that. I need to breathe and I need to share my insights equally from all of that pain that I went through, right? Like I need to be spilling it and spewing it out of me. In this book I wrote, in the workshop that I'm developing. It is the love of my life.

Angel: I've literally said those exact same words in my book, like my body of work is a love letter to every ounce of suffering that I have lived or every lick of pain that I've turned to strength like it is so perfect. I really believe that that is a true testament to your resilience. Like this shit that you have had to move through is precisely where your purpose was. It was exactly what you needed to do to collect the experience and the stories and the wisdom that you needed to do what you do now. Now another post that you did was, "I've been gaining recently, it's been an experience. I see my face getting fuller and feel the power in my body. I'm taking up more space and that is a celebration. Not something to fix nor compensate for. #edrecovery, #gainingweight, #weightrestoration. #fyourbeautystandards.” Do you want to say something about that?

Sarah: Yes. For my journey, moving into my authentic self was not just something that occurred on the inside. I had to gain a significant amount of weight. I got to go through puberty again, having my period restart and getting acne. There were very visible signs of what was going on, what was transforming inside of me and it was very difficult because my life in some ways did get harder by changing, by becoming my true self, by gaining weight, by expressing myself in a way that might not be the most charismatic way to carry myself. I no longer got many of the social benefits that I had previously. Before, I could command a room. I could feel like I was the most powerful person because I was feeding into other people's biases. I was playing that game. I was saying, "Everyone here thinks a pretty person looks like this so I'm going to look that way," and I was really fucking good at it. Right? When you are like, "I don't really give a shit what the repercussions are. I'm going to be me. I'm going to express me. I'm going to use my mannerisms. I'm going to use my language when I would like to use it," that means you are no longer going to have social benefits and that's something you need to think about, okay? It's not all roses. It's not all, "Oh, I'm in recovery. It's wonderful now." There are losses. Some people only liked you because you looked a certain way or you acted a certain way and they don't like this new Sarah or you might have had relationships where you realise you only liked that person for social benefits because they had traits that are in right now whatever that is. This whole process of gaining weight, yes, that is a concrete concept but it's much deeper than that. It is becoming what your body naturally wants to become. Losing those social benefits, but fucking being brave and saying, "I don't need everyone to like me."

Angel: Oh my God, the metaphors in that are everything and that's why I brought it up because it's not about gaining weight, which is the hard construct and the like cool definitive. It's that, it's like, the literal of taking up space in your body. Like the literal definition of taking up space in your body, the literal definition of gaining everything it is that you are meant to be and severing and losing everything that you are not meant to have. It's like replacing all of your bullshit with your beginning and it's also to say the social benefit thing, yes, the social benefit, but it's also things that buy into your suffering. When you are addicted to suffering you will adopt and subscribe to anything that keeps making you right and whether that is serving you or not, that is beside the point. There's a lot of people that do this because when they are unwell, people keep paying attention even when they know it's not the right attention. When people are unhappy to a degree the psychiatrists will keep paying them attention, et cetera. There is nothing about the reinvention of self and falling back in love with yourself and rebelling and slaying the status quo like taking a sledgehammer to the system to be like, "Fuck you. This is about me, myself and I," that is easy. Nothing. It's like going to war and expecting there to be no casualties, no loss, no anything like no, no, you need to be willing, right? Willingness as a virtue. Willingness as the distinction to be like, "I am going to lose all of it but that's cool and maybe I won't and that's cool too but whoever it is that's waiting to meet me on the other side of this is exactly why I need to keep going."

Food is medicine. Food is what sustains us. What builds us. What brings us back to life. Food is the one thing, the one language, that even the most non-sophisticated, non-connected, non-knowing humans can feel like. It's like you put it into the mouth and flavours speak to everyone and when we look at eating disorders, even moving beyond the mental health aspects here I really want to make a point about how when you are disconnected from food it is a clear distinction of being disconnected from body and disconnected from self because the toxic relationships that we crave with food, with spiritualism, with anything that actually is there to sustain us, that is actually the symptom. When we start to lose part of the senses, part of the sensory experience the self-love cannot thrive. We need to be in a situation where every sense is activated. Where the cup is full. Sometimes it spills. Whatever, we get back up again because we know that we have something to enjoy that makes us feel like we're actually alive. The thing that I'm most excited for you here is how much you have come back to life beyond the gaining of weight. Beyond the gaining of things, but the filling of your cup, metaphorically and literally like the ways that you can move through the world now with the weight, you're so eloquent with just the way words sounds in your mouth and yes, you said you could command a room. You could do the things but it's different. You're speaking now from a place of -- you almost sound like a warrior, like there's a warrioress quality to what it is you are saying and a voracious desire to see this deconstructed, and that's what I taste from your words.

I really want you to understand that your words sustain me. I'm really so so glad that you were able to put yourself in a place of ongoing recovery and ongoing, just boss mindset. Boss belly, boss heart and boss book writing because this stuff that you're going to do is going to change the way we eat, the way we feel about ourselves, the ways we take up space in our bodies and someone who was so obsessed with this kind of stuff, it delights me. It really does. I could chat about this forever but I want to just wrap this up and give you an opportunity to tell people about the book you're writing, where they can find you and anything else you want to direct them to.

Sarah: Okay, awesome. I have written a motherfucking disruptive, rebellious heart-pumping book about body image and self-esteem and the way we pathologise the feminine brain in Western society. I am trying to develop a stellar team to launch this book. I'm looking for agents, publishers who believe in this mission, who are really hardcore about marketing and to our creative, intelligent, badass beings. If that sounds like you, you can email me at svancini@vu.edu and in other news of us rocking the status quo, we are hosting a conference with ten executive women leaders and this conference is called the Positive Body Image and Badass Confidence conference in January 2020. You can get tickets at pbiandbc.com and if you use the coupon, the discount code ANGEL, you'll get 50% off of tickets. You can also find me @goddessofedrecovery on Instagram.

Angel: That is so fantastic. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you and I absolutely want to see you doing more on your social media, getting really, really proactive because I want people to see you. I'm really excited to see this get out there. Excited to see your book. Excited to see what it is you're going to do. Sarah, thank you for every struggle and every ounce of suffering that you have lived and the way that you have alchemized it into strength. You are my darling, a tool, the fox. I so appreciate you being on the show.

Sarah: Thank you so much and I will take your words and your wisdom and your insight with me and carry it. Thank you.

Angel: I have one last question for you. If there is anybody listening to this episode right now who is currently struggling with eating disorders or anxiety and depression relating from it, what is one piece of advice or wisdom you would like to impart on them?

Sarah: Number one is that you are completely normal to know that this economy in this society is set up for you to hate your body and hate who you really are. It's no wonder that you're suffering the ways that you are. And number two is that you cannot recover alone. You need to have a team of genuine leaders to help guide you through this process, mentors. You need that connection with other people to really get yourself through those times.

Angel: Thank you so much, Sarah. I'll be posting everything in the show notes, of course, everyone. Thank you for tuning in and I will see you soon on another episode of Slaying The Status Quo In Total Fucking Style.

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If you have a body of work or mission, a message that has been founded on the basis of being the lone wolf and persisting in a state of conviction and passion and self belief and ruffling your feathers and breaking the rules and you know, getting down with your bad self, well, I want to hear from you. Head on over to Angelgallo.com or simply look below in the show notes and there will be a straight-up link for you to get me your information. Get the world, your inspiration.

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