Note beforehand: This post has been written by a person currently suffering from an eating disorder. 23/10/2012
I have been made aware of the growing ignorance and negative stigma surrounding eating disorders. Do you have an eating disorder? If so, this might articulate some of your frustrating experiences with people who simply don’t understand your situation. Do you know someone with an eating disorder? If so, this post will give you some tips on how to handle and navigate around these saddening, and often life ruining circumstances.
There are many types of eating disorders. Some are more well known that others. ALL are serious mental diseases.
- Anorexia nervosa
- Bulimia nervosa (BN)
- Binge eating disorder (BED)
- Compulsive overeating (COE)
- Purging disorder
- Eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS) (Yes, it is possible for a person to be diagnosed with any of these, and just because an eating disorder is “not otherwise specified”, doesn’t mean it isn’t serious)
For a list of all known eating disorders, see here.
Before going through general rules which I had assumed to be common sense, but apparently are not, I would like to eliminate some myths about eating disorders.
- A person with an eating disorder does not have to be thin or emaciated. For some eating disorders, such as anorexia, a certain weight needs to be reached before being admitted into hospital. However, this does not mean that an eating disorder was not present before this weight was reached, because…
- An eating disorder is a mental disease. It only has physical symptoms.
- Eating disorders are extremely complex. They’re not only about losing weight. More often than not, a traumatizing event or circumstance triggers it. The loss of weight is an attempt to have control. When something is out of the sufferers control, they turn to their eating disorder. Often, this is a subconscious reaction.
- Every eating disorder should be taken seriously. NO EXCEPTIONS.
- Note how the words “eating disorder” do not specify anywhere within them the notion of not eating. It is, to put it quite simply, a disorder with eating. This can mean not eating, but it can also mean eating occasionally, over-eating, binge eating, purging meals, etc.
Things to remember
Rule #1: Do not talk about the eating disorder unless the person suffering from it brings it up. If you bring it up without their indication, you will trigger them and get a negative response that might jeopardize your relationship with them.
Rule #2: A person with an eating disorder is inherently conscious of their weight and eating/exercising habits. Do not comment on their weight or eating habits. They are WELL AWARE of their habits and appearance, and do not need any input that is not professional.
Rule #3: No one can just “get over” an eating disorder. No one can “just eat a goddamn sandwich” (YES, I have had this said to me, along with “you just need to get over it”), and be cured, when they have an eating disorder. It is a serious mental disease. Much like someone with a broken neck cannot just “get over it”, eating disorders need time and care to be recovered from.
Feel free to add on to this list.
If you are reading this and have an eating disorder, please seek professional help. A diagnosis sounds scary, but its a place to start recovery from. My thoughts are with you. And if you have been diagnosed, I wish you luck with your recovery.