6 Things People Need To Understand About Eating Disorders

Twenty20 / rebekah
Twenty20 / rebekah

1. They are NOT a choice.

Eating disorders are mental illnesses, not a lifestyle or a fad or a diet. We do not wake up one day and decide to have an eating disorder, and we cannot wake up and decide to just stop having one

2. They are NOT all about weight and body image.

Yes, it is a major aspect of an eating disorder. Yes, weight and body image become the primary focus when you are struggling with one. But there is so many more layers to an eating disorder and most of the underlying factors have nothing to do with weight.

3. Eating disorders do not discriminate.

There is a stereotype that an eating disorder is the disease of a privileged white teenage girl. But this is not at all the case. Eating disorders know no sex, race, age, or socioeconomic background

4. You CAN’T tell if someone has an eating disorder.

You do not have to be emaciated to have an eating disorder. There is no set body type for one. They come in all shapes, sizes, and weights and ALL can be life-threatening

5. An eating disorder affects all aspects of a person’s life.

They are a debilitating and isolating illness. Not only do they harm the individual’s physical and emotional well being, but also they affect everything and everyone in its wake. They make the sufferer cunning and manipulative, because eating disorders thrive in secret. Consequently they strain relationships of all sorts and inhibit school and work performance.

6. Recovery is the hardest thing that a person will ever have to do.

In fact, it is in many ways harder than living with the eating disorder itself. To the sufferer, an eating disorder is familiar, even comfortable. It consumes you body and mind. It is both your worst enemy and your best friend. Once you are trapped in its vicious cycle, the habits are almost impossible to break because it is all that you have and all that you know. Leaving it all behind is terrifying because the eating disorder becomes your identity.

Part of recovery is separating yourself from your disease. It is walking into the unknown. On a neurological level, it is forcing your brain to actually remap itself to think and act according to different neural pathways. Recovery is not a linear process. It is a day-by-day or even hour-by-hour process. There are ups and downs, dips and lapses. There is no perfect way to recover. There is no easy way to recover. It is an exhausting and painful journey, but in the end, so incredibly worth it. TC mark

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Image Credit: Twenty20 / rebekah

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