NEDAW – What an eating disorder is REALLY like.

I haven’t posted as planned during NEDAW due to being very consumed by other things however a friend reposted something I wrote a year ago and it’s one of the only times I can say I really love something I have wrote, purely because it really is the image of eating disorders that I want people to understand, rather than some of the things put out there.

It’s National Eating Disorder awareness week & this year I want to make a point that I feel is very important.

I could post a photograph of myself when I was very underweight (though to be honest, these were far and few between, and all deleted to my knowledge), I could list all the physical consequences I had at the time, and the physical consequences that I have even now, but I don’t think that’s helpful.

I want to raise awareness of a single point, and that is, that eating disorders aren’t about weight. I have heard multiple stories from friends and others, who haven’t been at a weight that has been of concern to medical professionals, and have consequently been refused treatment or given inadequate treatment. The same professionals who tell you eating disorders aren’t about weight, treat you according to your weight.

Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. People lose different amounts of weight, people start at different weights, people can be dangerously physically unwell at healthy weights, and people can be suffering psychologically at any weight. People can be overweight, a normal weight, any weight. When people state that someone doesn’t look like they have an eating disorder, my automatic thought is ‘what the hell does an eating disorder look like?’. It’s the equivalent of saying someone can’t have a mental illness because you saw them smile yesterday, or can’t have cancer because they don’t look ill and haven’t lost their hair.

It’s utter rubbish, and I can’t stress it enough.

My eating disorder has had all sorts of physical consequences and I’ve had periods of being very ill, and a photograph might show you this in a quick and easy way, in a shocking way, in a way that grabs your attention – but I’d rather you try to understand what an eating disorder is, than be intrigued by photographs of an emaciated body because these kind of images only represent one kind of struggle, the physical consequences of anorexia nervosa. They do not show the psychological suffering of any eating disorder, and do not represent bulimia, binge eating or EDNOS in any shape or form.

My eating disorder stole years and years of my life, it stole my last few years at school, it delayed me getting to university, it made me depressed, it hurt so many people around me, it made life not worth living. It made me shrink in many ways that are completely unrelated to weight. It turned me into nobody, it made me empty and unhappy. It took away years that could have been filled with happy memories with the people I loved, and instead led to isolation, pain & suffering – these are the things I want you to know, not my lowest weight or smallest dress size.

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