Title: Life With An Eating Disorder

Trigger Warning: eating disorders 

 

Eating Disorder Awareness

 

The week of Monday, February 22nd - Sunday, February 28th is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDA Week). NEDA week was created in order to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with eating disorders. Eating disorders are a serious, and possibly fatal, mental illness that negatively affects one’s mental and physical health. These mental illnesses are associated with a preoccupation with food, exercise, weight, body image, and/or abnormal eating habits. Eating disorders come in many forms and are associated with a variety of symptoms. Despite what many people believe, there is no particular “look” attached to an eating disorder. In order to better support someone with an eating disorder, it is important to educate yourself on the various disorders and their symptoms. Some common forms of eating disorders include, but are not limited to:

 

  • Binge eating disorder: Regularly consuming a large amount of food (binging) and feeling a lack of control.

  • Bulimia nervosa: Episodes of binge eating and feeling a lack of control, followed by compensatory behaviors like vomiting, laxatives, restriction, and/or overexercising. 

  • Anorexia nervosa: An intense fear of gaining weight resulting in the limiting of calories through restriction and/or overexercise.

 

If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, you are not alone. There are resources available for everyone, whether you are seeking diagnosis, treatment, and/or support. It is important to know that eating disorders are valid and not something to be ashamed of. There is a community of people waiting to provide the support you need for yourself or your loved one. 

 

Here are some great websites with more information on eating disorders! 

Mayo Clinic

National Institute of Mental Health

NEDA Feeding Hope

The Alliance for Eating Disorder Awareness

 

My Story

 

I was diagnosed with restrictive anorexia nervosa on October 23rd, 2020. Restrictive anorexia nervosa involves an intense fear of gaining weight, causing one to restrict their diet to the point of starvation. This is often associated with a lack of control over external factors, causing one to seek control through eating (or lack thereof in my case). Due to the looming COVID-19 pandemic, I started grappling with feelings of being powerless and disordered. Through restricting my diet, I found the control I felt I was lacking. What started as “harmless” dieting and cutting back on foods turned into a steady decrease in calories. At first it was dairy, then it was carbs, then it turned into whatever I felt was “too many” calories. My world started to revolve around food. 

 

My mind was filled with thoughts of calories and finding ways to eat as little as possible without alarming my friends and family. I grew lethargic and “hangry,” often too weak to participate in physical or mental activities. Over time, I began to see the effects of calorie restriction on my mind and body, prompting me to seek help. With the support from my family, I sought help from a mental health professional specialized in eating disorders. After being diagnosed with restrictive anorexia nervosa, I felt an extreme amount of shame and guilt. Through the process of recovery, I realized that mental health is a journey and should not be seen as shameful or embarrassing. I have been in recovery for 8 weeks and I am proud to share my story. The journey has its ups and downs, but I will never stop fighting, and neither should you.