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Opening Up: My Experience With an Eating Disorder

tw: eating disorder, anorexia 

A few weeks back, in my Body Politics class, we were discussing eating disorders. For the first time in almost ten years, I did not shy away from the topic/conversation, instead, I felt the need to speak up and share my experience with that very thing. Quite frankly, I surprised myself, and am surprising myself once again as I write this article and share my story. Discussing my experience with an eating disorder in front of people who I don’t really know was something I thought I would never do. But in a way, I felt that I needed to do it. It was freeing; a way for me to continue on the path of healing. 

I do not take this topic lightly and have hesitated in the past to discuss it with others because so many do not understand. Eating disorders, contrary to what the general population tends to think, are quite complex. One does not always simply just have anorexia or bulimia. There are so many subcategories to eating disorders that individuals, like myself, struggle with every day that are left in the dark. Additionally, there can be this assumption that one should just “get over it” or it should be an “easy fix” but that is not the case. I write this article to both share my story and shed some light on what eating disorders can mean to different people. 

[bf_image id="q7knn0-3doc4o-8yzrvl"]During my middle school years, I got really sick with severe stomach pain that caused me to avoid certain foods that I thought triggered the pain, leading me to lose an “unhealthy” amount of weight. This was not something that I was necessarily choosing to do, stomach pain/discomfort was and is still my body's way of responding to anxiety and stress. After a countless number of tests and procedures done to my adolescent body, a diagnosis eventually came about. I was diagnosed with ARFID (Avoidant/Resistant Food Intake Disorder) , or ATypical Anorexia, a type of eating disorder that is not very common but dramatically affects the lives of those who suffer from it. It is hard to treat because so little is actually known about it. ARFID is considered to be ATypical Anorexia because I was not choosing to lose the weight instead it was a result of my body’s response to stress and anxiety, something that was not in my control. 

Dealing and working through this disorder was one of the most challenging times in my life, I had to work so hard to get myself healthy again. On top of that, I dealt with insensitive comments from others on my physical appearance and eating habits. I often did not bother to explain myself because I knew that I would not be understood. Yes, I have had great healing over the years, but I will say this, I still struggle with my eating disorder every day. Sometimes I feel like I do actually struggle with typical Anorexia. But I do not blame myself for that, the society we live in puts so much pressure on girls from a young age to look and act a certain way, to be Barbie, and watch our weight. 

In writing this article, I am not looking for advice or solutions to this “disorder” that I, and so many others, deal with day in and day out. I am simply sharing my story and hoping that it may resonate with at least one other person. My message to those who have not had an experience with an eating disorder is to be sensitive to those around you, we never know what someone is dealing with.

To learn more about Eating Disorders please consider visiting the following website: National Eating Disorders Association

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Ashley is a senior at the University of California, Davis. She is studying Communication and getting her minor in English with the hopes of one day having a successful career in one of the two fields. Ashley enjoys spending time with her family and exercising in her free time.
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