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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Marymount chapter.
As many of you may know, most likely by the countless Instagram posts and posters that are everywhere (I’m guilty of them as well), this week is Eating Disorder Awareness week. Eating disorders effect up to 30 million people of all ages and genders in America. The statistics show that 1-15% of people with an eating disorder are male, and up to 3% of all women suffer from anorexia, 4% suffer from bulimia and 5% struggle with binge eating disorder.  
This post is not to shove the facts down your throats, you could get that from any medical site or book.
This post is to show support for anyone who is currently battling their demon, and to show appreciation for those who have overcome theirs and are stronger for it, and to (hopefully) give hope to those who are in the thick of their battle, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, just keep fighting.
In honor of this important week, I would like to tell a story that many girls who have suffered from an ED can relate to, and maybe it seems like I pulled it from your diary. Just remember that, even though it seems like you are all alone in your struggle and nobody could possibly understand what you are going through, there are others out there who feel the same exact way. This week is about raising awareness and lending support to one another. 
Here we go…
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who hated herself. She knew that she was blessed with an amazing life and supportive friends and a loving family- but she hated her body, she felt worthless and disgusting and out of control of her life, and that impacted her entire existence. She was afraid of food, terrified of it to the point of panic attacks when forced to eat. She was obsessed with her weight, and wanted nothing more than to be skinnier than she was, even when she was dangerously skinny. The little comments about how much weight she had lost kept her going…
“You’ve lost all our baby fat”, “You’re not chubby anymore”, “You’re so skinny”, “You need to eat a cheeseburger”… the people who made those comments didn’t realize how much that pushed her to go farther, get skinnier, eat less, starve herself more. 
She was sick, and didn’t want to admit she had a problem. She would have panic attacks when she tried to go to sleep, afraid that she would gain weight during the night, and she couldn’t get to sleep until she got out of bed and did 100 crunches. She was stubborn, and confused, and scared. She was convinced that there was a direct correlation between your weight and how much people liked you, and that she had to be skinny in order to make friends, or that she had to be able to count her ribs so boys would think she was pretty. She hated being seen, and just wanted to stay inside her room rather than being out in the world and meeting people. She was afraid of people, and letting people in. She starved herself for as long as she could, and considered herself strong when she made it through a day, or multiple days, without eating anything.
She was convinced that she was taking control of something, and control was something she craved at a time when she was lacking it. She wasn’t in control of anything though, this eating disorder was controlling her. Everything she did or thought revolved around it. It was the first thing she thought about when she woke up, and the last thing she thought of when she was in bed at night. People tried to help her, but she didn’t want it. You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves. 
One day, the girl woke up and realized it was time to change. She realized that she was abusing her body, and wasting precious time obsessing over insane things like whether or not she could see her hipbones through her jeans. She opened her eyes and turned everything around. She began to love food, and loved exercising just as much. She decided to take an obsession and turn it into a passion. She decided to take all the energy it took to starve herself for so long, and directed it toward becoming as fit as she could. She began loving her body and all its quirks, and all of the things it was able to do. There were days when she would wake up and think to herself “I’m going to starve myself this week”, but rather than give in, she said out loud “kiss my ass, eating disorder, I’m gonna go eat some chicken and crush some weights”.
She got strong, and happy, and realized that she was free again. She began to love herself. It was a long and hard process, and she fell multiple times along the way, but the road to recovery isn’t paved. It’s littered with potholes and booby traps and there are bandits lurking in the shadows, waiting for the moment when you look back to see what is behind you to pounce. The only way to make it through to the other side is by keeping your head up and your will strong and putting one foot in front of the other. Even if you get dragged down and held back by fear and uncertainty, keep looking forward. It’s not about getting to the finish line as fast as you can, it’s about making it there and managing to stay there for good, making a permanent change for the better. Slow and steady wins the race, after all.
It’s okay to stumble, just as long as you pick yourself back up and get your butt moving. I know it’s going to hurt, it’s going to seem damn near impossible at times. But remember that it isn’t. You are in control of this change, you are in control of your future and your happiness. There will always be those clueless people who say “why don’t you just eat something?”. We’ve all met at least one of them. Don’t let them downplay the battle you are fighting on a daily basis. They don’t understand, and they never will. How could they when they haven’t experienced it? 
I do. I have been there, right where you are, pinching the skin on my hips just to make sure it hadn’t grown, bruising my ribs by poking and counting them, blacking out because my heart couldn’t take care of me… because I didn’t take care of it. I was where you are, and I couldn’t imagine ever being okay again. I was in a deep pit with no ladder in sight, slowly digging myself deeper and deeper without realizing it. 
But I survived. I managed to climb out, grasping the outstretched hands offering me the help I previously rejected. No one can make the change for you, but you can’t do it on your own either. It takes all the patience and prayers and tears and love and pain and persistence and strength in the world to overcome something like that. But you can overcome it. I have complete faith in you, you just need to have faith in yourself. If you have faith in yourself, there’s nothing you can’t do.
So, if you know someone who is suffering from an ED of any sort, you cannot force them to change. All you can do if be there for them, offer support and love, and be patient and understanding with them. They might try to push you away or hurt you, but they are hurting more than you can imagine. It’s not them saying those hurtful things, it’s their demon; their eating disorder. Thank you for loving them, and thank you to everyone who loved me when I was at my worst. You are our angels.