TRIGGER WARNING: If you are struggling, or have struggled with an eating disorder, take caution in reading the article
When you have an eating disorder, your whole world changes. As much as you try to deny the changes, they are happening. It effects everything. Expressing what and how you are feeling can be incredibly hard, letting down those wall and being vulnerable. Sometimes there is no words to really properly express what you are feeling. It’s so easy to deny how you are feeling, and you just wish people understood why you are acting the way you are, but they can’t. Here are ten things I wish my friends knew about my eating disorder, maybe you feel the same way.
1. You can’t possibly understand what I am going through, and that’s okay
The thing about eating disorders, like so many other mental health conditions, is no matter how hard you try, you can’t understand, and I wouldn’t want you to. I don’t want you to know how it feels. When people look at you differently when they find out you have anorexia. The feeling of fear every time you go to the doctor, because what if your obs are bad enough she is going to call the ambulance again? What if they tube you again? The constant arguments you have with yourself at every meal and snack time. The shame you feel after consuming even a single bite of food. The feeling that you would rather die than eat that piece of toast. You will never understand how that feels, but that’s okay, I don’t want you to.
2. Be patient. I’m trying
Yo don’t see the battle going on in my head. You just see the meal refusal, the screaming, and the crying. Sometimes the voice is too much for me to take. The voice is screaming at me, constantly. It doesn’t stop. “You’re useless, undeserving, you are a pig, you don’t deserve to eat or to be happy. Not eating makes you strong and powerful. You eat, and it proves you are useless and a failure. I am trying so hard to quiet the voice, but it’s hard. Please be patient, recovery won’t be quick and easy.
3. Sometimes what you say makes it worse
I know you are just trying to help, but when you tell me I look good, or you’re proud of me for eating that meal, I don’t hear that. The anorexia takes everything you say and twists it, and trying to turn me against you. I hear I’m fat, useless and a failure.
4. Just because I look better doesn’t mean I am
The re-feeding process was one of the hardest things I have been through. The control over what I was putting into my body was completely taken away from me. The voice was screaming at me. I was being watched every single second of the day. I may not look better, but getting to ‘looking better’ was extremely traumatic, and I am so not okay. I am still fighting with myself to eat, I am hating how it feels to be weight restored, I feel like I am failing.
5. Having an eating disorder and a dark and lonely place
I will push everyone away. I am scared of getting close to anyone. Despite this, I am scared and lonely. Please don’t give up on me. There is no way you can understand the darkness, but you can help me by pushing through the darkness and dragging me into the light.
6. Telling me to ‘just eat’ doesn’t help
I know you are trying to help, but trust me, if I could ‘just eat’ I would. If I could eat I wouldn’t be in this situation. Please don’t beg me to eat, it just makes me feel guilty, because I literally can’t.
7. I’ll be defensive
Don’t take it personally, but I will be defensive. I will snap at you, I will argue with you, I will yell and scream and tell you I hate you. The more I trust you, the more I will take it out on you. Please believe I don’t mean what I’m saying. The voice is just too loud and suffocating, I lash out and can;t help it.
8. If I eat in front of you, I trust you
Eating in front of you is probably the biggest act of trust I can do. Please, don’t draw attention to it, or make a big deal out of it. If I ask you to come and eat with me, just role with it, it means I trust you and feel safe with you.
9. The voice is louder than anything you could ever say
I appreciate all the encouragement and support you give me, but I will dismiss it. That voice is just yelling and screaming at me, and is louder and more believable than anything you can say.
10. I’m sorry
I am not oblivious to the amount of stress and worry I am putting you through. You have no idea how sorry I am for causing you all this stress and anxiety. I don’t think I can ever truly comprehend how worried I make you. I’m sorry.
Thank you for not giving up on me.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, please don’t be scared to reach out. There are so many organisations that are willing and able to help you. The following pages provide resources for sufferers of eating disorders and their loved ones: