1. It’s not just about “being thin”
We have this image of people in our heads, that eating disorders only affect people who are stick thin. But actually, eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. When you look at someone in recovery they might be eating and a healthy weight but that doesn’t mean that everything is okay.
We need to be looking at someone’s complete mental state not just their BMI because if we just focus on that, we will miss so many people. I am a healthy weight but that doesn’t mean my brain is 100% okay all of the time.
2.It can take its toll on your social life
The illness can be hugely detrimental to a person’s social life, as you don’t always feel able to join in on meals out, picnics in the summer or even going to the pub with mates. It takes up all your free time – it is your only friend and the only thing you will trust.
Weather it be anorexia or bulimia, your ED will always take priority. Do I need to be near a toilet to throw up, for the laxatives to kick in, near a sofa incase I faint, can’t I view the menu online first? A day out that includes eating take careful planing to avoid anxiety.
3. It’s often about control
It was and still is to a certain degree my everything – giving me this sense of value and purpose, giving me this sense of control. When it started I didn’t realise the dangers of such restrictive & purging practices.
At some point in my teen years, restriction became a conscious decision, as I felt it was something I could control, whereas I couldn’t control my life around me. Which was pretty chaotic at that point.
I only realised that I had an issues with control when I started seeing an ED therapist.
4.It’s as much psychological as it is physical.
I think it’s a big misconception that you can change the behaviour and fix somebody. When I was admitted to rehab in London my behaviour might’ve changed in hospital but then as soon as I was out, nothing was really different.
They put me on a food plan and weight-restored me, I didn’t have any CBT therapy. While i went back to a “normal” weight, i couldn’t cope mentally. And in turn soon returned to the weight I was before. My addiction had never gone
5. It’s not ‘a phase’ or ‘a diet’.
When talking about my ED to others, I’ve found people will often relate my experience to their own experiences of dieting – and it’s not the same.
People say things like “Oh when I was on a diet I lost this amount of weight” or “I wish I was as skinny as you, I wish I could stick to not eating loads”, which if you think about it, it’s really insensitive.
I find it very hard to explain to people that it’s not a choice diet, it’s a disorder of my brain and I’ve got no control over that. You don’t want someone to be relating to it, you just want someone to accept it and be like ‘that’s ok, let me know how I can support you’.
I remember you mums response when I told her- “it’s just a phase, it’s just fashionable! you’ll snap out of it”. But now, I’ve endured years of hospitalisations and treatment, not only for my eating disorder but for other mental health problems, I’m hoping she’s realised it’s not something “fashionable” that I’ll “snap out of”
6. We’re not Bulimic or Anorexic
I have bulimia but I’m not bulimic.There’s so much more to me than that, I draw, I sail, I live brunching and partying…. In the same way that a person with dementia is still an individual and is not their condition, a person with an ED is still that same person.
Mental Health at Work advises people to not to describe those with mental illnesses as “anorexic” or “schizophrenic”. Instead, they are a person living with anorexia or schizophrenia.
7. Recovery IS possible
In all honesty, I haven’t fully recovered myself and don’t know if i ever will. I still have a lot of hang-ups about food and am still stuck in the bing, purge, restrict cycle, so that makes it complicated. But I try to remain hopeful that it could happen to me.
I always think of it as an addiction and say it’s always going to be there but my goal is to find a healthy coping mechanism so it will never be an issue again.