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Why it is Important to Talk About Eating Disorders

One of the most challenging aspects of fighting mental health battles is that we often feel like we are fighting all alone. Mental illnesses are most often invisible and while this may make our lives a bit easier, it also adds to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Even the toughest challenge is easier when you aren’t going through it alone. That is why it is so important to talk about mental health, to raise awareness of it and end the stigma around it. Talking about Eating Disorders (ED) is particularly avoided, but why?

I think it is the same reason why we tend to feel more comfortable talking about anxiety than we do talking about suicide. Eating Disorders are the psychiatric illness with the highest mortality rate. Eating Disorders are often seen as a more extreme mental illness, one that is extraordinarily difficult to understand. While Eating Disorders can be extreme, like anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, you don’t need to be diagnosed with an ED in order to recognize a disordered relationship with food. 

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Disordered eating can look like a lot of things: skipping meals to lose weight, obsessively weighing yourself, negative self-talk around your body image, feelings of self-loathing when you feel like you have eaten too much, and many other things. It’s different for everyone. It’s all these smaller tendencies that can eventually lead to a full blown and diagnosable ED, but they don’t always and there are often ways to prevent that. To be clear, skipping one meal or being unhappy with your figure does not necessarily mean you have an ED. Eating Disorders are serious, clinical mental illnesses. But by becoming more aware of them we can break down the stigma around disordered eating, and more people can become aware of these unhealthy signs before it becomes something more. 

There are a few important things to remember when talking about EDs. First, an ED is not a choice. Just like people who struggle with depression do not choose to feel depressed, someone does not choose to have an ED. Second, many people with Eating Disorders look healthy, yet may be extremely ill (Invisible illnessssssss). Lastly, early detection and intervention are extremely important, but full recovery from an eating disorder is absolutely possible.

To be clear, I am not a doctor, and I am not giving you medical advice. I am just a passionate advocate who wants to start a conversation. So, let’s talk about it! What do you see when you look in the mirror?

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