This week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week: I Had No Idea.
I wrote back in October about my own personal struggles with eating disorders. Eating disorders are much more than just restricting or purging. There is so much more than the physical aspects of eating disorders. So many people had no idea that someone close to them is struggling with an eating disorder. And part of me feels like the stereotype that women are just never happy with their bodies and it is the norm to be on a diet helps perpetuate this secrecy. It’s not (or at least should not be) the norm to just be disgusted with your body and to restrict or purge or self medicate with food. Binge eating isn’t just about someone shoving their face full of food. That isn’t the problem at all. That is usually their solution to a bigger problem.
The stats from NEDA just make my stomach churn and my heart hurt for those that are struggling and who will be struggling. 50% of girls use unhealthy behaviors to lose weight. 50%. 50% are restricting, purging, smoking…are treating their bodies that crap just to be thin. What can start out as an innocent and simple diet can spiral out of control so much faster than anyone can imagine. My bout with restricting started out as an innocent little diet and spiraled down to eating some bread, carrots, and grapes that I would eat throughout the week. Stepping on the scale once a day turned into a total obsession and became 20 times a day and frustration that I had to be at school and couldn’t weigh myself. My first time purging was a simple solution to losing control and spiraled into purging every meal and barely being able to keep food down.
I never knew. I never ever knew that any of these things would lead down these paths. I never realized that critiquing and criticizing my body would turn into a complete a total obsession. I never knew that hating my reflection would turn into hating the person staring back at me. I never knew how far I would go and how much I would lose myself. I never knew how much it would change me.
Eating disorders are a real mental health issue. Please, if you get nothing from this, know that eating disorders are not to be joked about. They are a serious issue that should be taken seriously. If anyone ever opens up to you personally about their struggles. Don’t ever dismiss them. Please recognize their strength and how incredibly remarkable and strong that individual is. And support them. Whatever that means to them. The bottom line is love them. Because their eating disorder is a part of their story, not the entire story.