The eating disorder world is a dark place and very hard to understand if you have never been there. My battle began with anorexia when I was 18 years old, which led me to being hospitalized by the age of 19. Throughout all my treatments, therapy sessions, living with other diagnosed individuals and doing my own research, I have found that people dealing with this illness have the same thinking patterns. We may have different stories and come from different places, but our feelings, emotions and actions are very similar. We live in a culture of secrecy and because of this, society is misinformed about the deadly truth of eating disorders. It is a very complicated illness and may take time for the world to understand all aspects of it. To help teach and spread awareness, here are 30 things someone with an eating disorder wish they could tell you:
- I have an eating disorder. I am not an eating disorder.
- It’s not a lifestyle choice. It’s a serious illness.
- An eating disorder is an addiction just as much as an alcohol or drug addiction.
- Eating disorders just don’t take over your eating habits, they dominate your entire life; every thought, every action.
- The eating disorder world is a dark and lonely place. If I let you know my secrets, I trust you more than anything. Please don’t take advantage of that trust.
- Eating disorders are best friends with anxiety. I’m always on the go, strictly follow my own schedule and I won’t let you break my routine.
- Eating disorders rarely work alone. They thrive on secrecy and isolation, and go hand in hand with depression, anxiety and self-harm. I cut my wrists so I can feel physical pain instead of facing my inside pain. It is not to get attention.
- Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. The skin and bones girl you see when you google “anorexia”? That’s not the majority.
- I’ve never looked at a picture of a model and wanted to look like them. I just see myself and want to look less like me.
- Bulimia isn’t me “having my cake and eating it too.” It’s a way to punish myself.
- Goal weights won’t stop us. “You’ve lost enough, you look good at this weight.” Sorry, but that’s how dieters think, not eating disorder sufferers.
- I love being able to feel every single bone on my body. The more ribs I can see, the sharper my hip bones are, the skinnier my face is, the better I am getting at having an eating disorder. I need to be the best anorexic in the ED world.
- I am always extremely tired, no matter how much sleep I get.
- I will always be jealous of the way you can eat without feeling guilty, disgusting or hating yourself after.
- I still love food. It’s a complicated relationship. I’m sure I think about food more than you do.
- I go to grocery stores just to walk around and stare at all the food that Ed will not allow me to have.
- You can’t fix me, even though it may seem like a simple solution to you. No amount of “you’re beautiful”s are going to undo the damage that has been done.
- Sometimes I don’t have any feelings. I’m just there. Not happy, not sad…just emotionless and stale.
- Please never try and force me to eat when I say I can’t. It makes me more angry and I’ll wait even longer to eat just to piss you off and show you that I am the one in control. Support works. Force is a trigger.
- There’s nothing I would love more than cooking and enjoying a meal with you. I want that so much but Ed won’t let me.
- I don’t want you to ever feel guilty when you eat in front of me when I’m not eating. It makes me happy when you enjoy food. I’ll even cook and bake for you to make sure you have good food.
- I am genuinely sorry for the times I’ve cancelled plans on you because I felt too ashamed and disgusting to face the world that day.
- I will avoid going out to eat or to parties where there will be food and drinks. I know everyone will be watching and seeing how I respond.
- It’s our eating disorder that’s selfish, not us.
- Please don’t tell me that you need to go on a diet or that you’re fat. You’re perfect the way you are. I know how much this obsession takes over you, and I never want to see it ruin you too.
- No, I do not think that you are fat. What I think is not acceptable for me does not apply to everyone else.
- Just because I’m eating does not mean I’m “better.” Just because I gained weight or haven’t lost weight does not mean I don’t have an eating disorder. Just because I look “healthy” does not mean I don’t have an eating disorder.
- No matter how far in recovery I am, little comments can still hurt. When you tell me that I look healthy, I’m freaking out inside. Looking better is typically code for “gaining weight.” Gaining weight scares the shit out of me. Gaining weight means I’m fat. Healthy means I’m fat..
- A “full recovery” doesn’t mean that an individual will never slip back into a relapse. Some individuals live in vicious cycles of recovery and relapse.
- I never will expect you to fully understand what I am going through. I don’t think I’ll ever understand it myself.