1. They Are Not A Choice
The amount of times I’ve heard that eating disorders are a choice from mislead people in awkward conversations, something that can be turned off at the flick of a switch, feel like loosing a bit of weight? oh okay, let’s stop eating for a few days. Feel a bit bloated? have a purge. NO. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Eating disorders are psychological disorders, they are all consuming and the thoughts follow you around, every minute of every day, there is no switching off or escaping. They are not a fun trend, they’re not something that can be stopped at anytime or something that is used when you feel out of shape. They are life threatening and heartbreaking and should not be taken lightly or joked about.
2. They Come In All Shapes And Sizes
So when you think of eating disorders what image comes to mind? A severely underweight person? Gaunt? Hollow? Bones? Don’t worry, it’s the same body type that a huge number of people would imagine when speaking about this topic. But what if I told you that this underweight body image doesn’t have much to do with eating disorders at all?
So as mentioned before, it’s a mental illness and only some people will experience the physical symptom of extreme weight loss. I know, crazy right? The illnesses that so many people think are to do with weight are really, just, not.
I was never underweight and this caused problems with my recovery. I was never ‘severe’ enough to qualify for help on the NHS right away, because I wasn’t visibly ill, I didn’t loose a lot of weight, I didn’t seem ‘ill enough’ physically. But lets take a look at my mental state; I was having breakdowns what seemed like every other day, I was withdrawn from everyone, I was making myself sick after meals up to three times a day, which in itself holds major health problems (becoming underweight was not on the top of that list). All of those things don’t scream out ‘I’m a well person.’ I needed help, but I didn’t get it because the GP didn’t view me as sick enough and that is dangerous!
Eating disorders can happen to people of ANY weight or size, not just those who are underweight. People who are in recovery for an eating disorder, who may be larger that what you deem acceptable for a ‘sick person’ are not liars, they are not faking, their journey’s are just a valid as those who are underweight.
3. They Are bigger Than Food
Because we have disorders that are based around food does not mean that’s what they’re solely about. Making yourself sick, or starving your self, or any other disordered behaviour around food are just the physical symptoms of a much deeper problem. For me it was not being good enough for anyone or anything and a lack of control. Making myself sick was a way to gain control over all the problems, rejection and self doubt in my life.
So eating disorders are not about the food, they are not a phase to grow out of, they are more than calorie counting and more than getting rid of said calories.
4. You Can Fully Recover
For a long time I believed that recovery from an eating disorder was impossible. I believed that I would forever be suffocated with the constant thoughts of food, calories and exercise. I mean I’d already been to the doctors, talked at, poked at and weighed, all to be told that I’m not sick enough. That in itself made me want to recover even less.
But after A LOT of hard work, A LOT of crying and A LOT of counselling I made it. I’ve still got a little way to go but I’m fully aware that recovery is achievable and right now, I’m as recovered as I could possibly hope for.
So please, don’t give up on yourself. You’re so much stronger than you could ever imagine. You can beat this and you can be free. So keep going, even on the hard days when it feels like the world is against you.
You got this!