Am doing another post for Eating Disorders Awareness Week, this time its one hosted by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) in the USA (the last one I did was the week for Canda) and the theme that NEDA has for this week is “I Did Not Know”. On social media, individuals are encouraged to post anything about eating disorders, from facts to struggles during recovery to their personal triumphs over their eating disorders to raise awareness about what the mental illness is and the damage it can bring to one’s physical, mental and emotional health.
For this post I thought I’d take a leaf out of many people’s books and share with you a list of things that I myself, based on my personal journey with my eating disorder, did not know about eating disorders. I do believe that some people are under the impression that people who develop eating disorders did so out of choice because he/she wanted to achieve only a certain type of body
She wanted to be skinny so its her fault she got an eating disorder. That’s all she can think about: getting thin, so she has no one to blame but herself. Look at how skinny or how fat she’s become from starving/binging, that’s what you get when you start dieting. She should have known. She could have stopped dieting but she chose not to. That’s what you get when you’re obsessed and self-centered.
Eating disorders don’t develop out of choice. I most certainly did not wake up one fine merry morning and go “Oh let’s get an eating disorder today, that should be jolly fun” or “Let’s get thin today, and never mind that I’ll lose my hair or lose my muscle mass or develop ulcers or start thinking about suicide” Yes, in my mind, I had a goal of becoming thin, but I most certainly did not bargain for my behaviors to spiral dangerously out of control due to my dissatisfaction with my body that was compounded by my lack of knowledge of the dangers of extreme dieting, the idealization of thin women in society and
I DID NOT KNOW THAT…
- What started out as an introduction to meal replacement drinks would start my eating disorder journey
- I would no longer look at food something to enjoy, but something to fear and even detest.
- I would start obsessively counting calories and punishing myself by not eating the next day if I exceeded my self-imposed limit of 1400 calories a day.
- My hair would fall out in clumps and would never grow back the same way again.
- I would develop ulcers on my lips
- I would start “diet-hopping”
- Losing 5kg in a matter of a week wasn’t equivalent to fat loss, but muscle loss.
- I would become so secretive with my eating
- I would no longer be able to identify what feeling hungry meant.
- Loving, hating and feeling scared of eating was a feeling that actually existed
- I would never eat another single burger for 7 years.
- I would hate looking at my reflection
- Binging would bring me comfort.
- Self-harm would become a coping mechanism
- My menstrual cycle would be irregular for approximately 4 years.
- My love for dance would be sacrificed
- Drink diet coke all day just to feel full
- I would become addicted to exercise
- “Normal eating” no longer meant anything to me
- I would start to abuse laxatives
- I would develop depressive thoughts when I entered college.
- I would develop suicidal thoughts in my sophomore year and see death as the only way out of suffering
- I would develop a self-imposed curfew to get home by 9pm just so I could go running because if I missed a day’s workout, I would start getting anxious.
I’m 101% positive and if you ask anyone on the street, whether they’d choose to endure any of the above, even for a few days, they’d give you a resounding “no” in your face. All these physical, emotional and mental consequences were outcomes that I did not bargain for nor expect. I went from a confident carefree girl to an insecure and crumbling mess of a person who had no idea how to navigate her way through life and who actually thought that what was happening to her was a phase that would pass without incident if she “just went back to normal eating”. Sort of like the awkward phases of puberty – you have to do your time with the acne, the braces and the social awkwardness before you emerge out of it into a better person. Only it wasn’t. It persisted for a long time and I was just about ready to give up.
I think I understand why people don’t treat eating disorders as seriously as they do with other conditions, such as depression. Its to do with eating, something that’s a normal process in people’s life. Just eat normally. I know that. But its hard to do that when you’ve lived a long time restricting and bingeing and reading up on ways to lose weight by eating all sorts of strange foods at odd hours. Normal is relative, and its hard for people to believe that something as normal and simple and innocent as eating can be so harmful. There is nothing glamorous about eating disorders. We don’t end up looking like Hollywood actresses. This is the price many of us pay.
I’m not fully recovered. I still struggle with normal eating at times. I battle fears and anxieties with food and a part of me still wishes I were thinner. But I’m still fighting.
It’ll take a longer time for society to fully grasp the seriousness and ramifications of what an eating disorder really is. I can’t possible change the mindsets of everyone but I hope that every little thing I do in my way contributes to raising awareness and increasing understanding in what other people as to what really happens when one person experiences an eating disorder because we are such misunderstood people. Its not just about eating. It extends into your health, your emotions, your happiness and your lifestyle. Eating disorders rob a person of that and here’s hoping that this post will be one of the many that will change your “I Did Not Know” to “I Now Know” or ” I Now Have a Better Understanding”
Thoughts? To those going through an eating disorder and/or recovery or if you’re an advocate for raising awareness about the dangers of eating disorders, join the online community and share your stories or facts about ED and recovery on social media! I’d love to see them.
Enjoy the weekend guys!
Here are some videos that I’ve been watching over and over again the past couple of days:
I must have watched this trailer at least 10 times and I don’t know what it is about the storyline that attracts me but I definitely am catching this when it gets released AND HOLY SMOKES THE GUY PLAYING YOUNG HARRISON FORD – THE BOY ON THE BIKE. THOSE CHEEKBONES.
ADELE IS PERFECT END OF STORY I WANT HER AS MY CELEBRITY BEST FRIEND.