Recently, I realised how many people are oblivious to the harsh reality of an eating disorder. People only see what sufferers put online and more often than not, what we see on social media isn’t an accurate depiction of the truth. So many people without an eating disorder don’t know how to act around people with anorexia and don’t understand our reasoning behind things so this post is my attempt to share my reality of living with anorexia, in the hopes of clearing up some common misconceptions.
Eating disorders affect millions of people all over the world today. There are many different types but the main ones include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and also binge eating disorders. All of these disorders happen to many different people for all different reasons. It has been recorded that approximately eight million people in the US have anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and related eating disorders. That number is way too high, and this is why I am talking to you today. So I can spread more awareness to the world about eating disorders.
On long car rides I play a game where I try to see how many different license plates I can find. After many years, I’ve memorized what each state license plate says. New Hampshire is my favorite: "Live Free or Die," it says. This refers to people’s revolutionary desire for freedom from abusive outside forces. However, an interpretation of this expression’s meaning that is more fitting for me and my personal journey along the winding roads of life is one that means freedom from my own repressively restrictive, abusive, and internal nature.
The title of this article may seem intriguing, may seem taboo, may even seem fake, and I hate all of those assumptions. The title "traveling with anorexia" should be just as out of the ordinary as "traveling with only one pair of shoes"—still somewhat intriguing, but not so much that you would take time out of your day to learn how the author travels with only one pair of shoes. And yet, it feels wrong for me to talk about this. Even in this broad and simple context, I feel like I am pushing a boundary; not one of my own, but that of someone else. I love talking about my mental illnesses and bringing awareness to them, but I'm always scared of offending someone else with my willingness to express myself through my stories of struggle. It's another article all in itself talking about how it feels "forbidden" to talk about a mental illness where it should be as simple as talking about shoes, but we'll get to that eventually.
Does your child have an eating disorder?
Have you ever gone to pay for your food shop and worried about how much you bought in comparison to other shoppers?
Remember that little saying growing up, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?" We all use to say it as a way to comfort ourselves from bullies. It was a way of saying "Haha! Do you really think that hurt my feelings?" Somewhere, deep down, I think it truly did help some of us.
Eating Disorders – What can be done?
Growing up, I was a team player, a go-getter, a competitive little kid, with dreams and ambitions. I didn’t care about my weight, nor did I grasp the concept of “fat” or “skinny.” I just simply lived every day and ate what was fed to me. After I hit puberty, I began to eat what I wanted, when I wanted without caring about anything. In grade ten I realized that I was “thicker.” I would get attention for my “huge assets, ” and it made me feel super uncomfortable. I remember getting called by nicknames. I wouldn’t consider it bullying, to them, it was for a good laugh, and trust me… to anyone else, it would be a good laugh too. I used to laugh it off. I used to pretend that I thought it was hilarious. But to me, it was much worse than a nickname or a joke. Those comments haunt me everywhere I go, and especially every time I try and eat something. A few years ago someone told me I looked “so thick” in jeans. I didn’t wear jeans for two years after that, and to this day it takes me a tremendous amount of courage to wear them. Those names and words would pop up in my head, and it left me hating my body, and everything about it. It led me down an unhealthy path, and one I am still struggling with today. I used to see how long I could go without eating, I'd even vomit up the artificial expectations people had for me. I believe everything happens for a reason and you face things because you’re able to get through it.
With eating disorders, there are a few symptoms and actions that are talked about quite frequently, such as weight loss, purging, and food restriction. However, there are many more habits and symptoms that aren’t so commonly discussed which may lead to sufferers feeling alone and that they are dealing with something no one else is.