eating disorders need to be handled differently. Im going off, sorry in advance.
In high school, i was sat down with the rest of my health class, instructed by our gym teacher. This is where i had my “education” about eating disorders, though i was dealing with one secretly.
He talked about them as if they were a crime. He told us how to know if someone has an ed (they’ll wear baggy dark clothing, they’ll avoid food), and to tell on them. He told us it’s for women only. We made jokes about it. We had to watch a terribly inaccurate movie portraying eating disorders.
This movie was full of tips on how to hide an ed that i remember 7 years later. He must not have interpreted it that way.
I learned to be a better liar and i learned that people will hate me and pity me and find me revolting and call me ignorant and force feed me with a tube in a hospital if they ever found out.
So i kept quiet.
When i was 16 and my family found out i was purging, they sat me down intervention style and SCREAMED at me. My uncle, my aunt, and my grandmother all sat at a table and yelled at me about my biggest secret. They called me gross, immature, and compared me to my birth mother who struggled with the same thing.
They made me feel some of the most intense shame i’d ever felt. I felt stripped naked.
They took away my coping mechanisms (internet, tumblr account, certain TV shows, scale). They didn’t allow me to heal by choice or leave my coping mechanisms behind on my own because they thought my ed was a silly girl thing that I could quit whenever. But it wasn’t ever that simple.
Without my coping mechanisms, I turned to self harming.
To this day, the memory makes me shudder and reminds me to distrust them. They handled it horribly.
PEOPLE NEED TO STOP HANDLING THIS HORRIBLY. NOW.
The only thing that ended up helping was when i was forced to go to therapy. I was resistant at first. But my therapist was educated on the topic, took me seriously, and helped me handle my ed safely to slowly and comfortably to recover rather than shame me to shreds so i could stop being a nuisance.
Recovering took YEARS. It was not a simple decision like everyone told me it should be. But even with my current relapse, I know how to be safe about this and how to avoid hurting myself.
Here’s what i wished they told me in high school.
Eating disorders are treatable. You are not too far gone to try to get better.
Someones weight is not an indicator of whether or not they have an eating disorder. Anyone, regardless of size or shape or weight, can be dealing with an ed.
NEVER lower your goal weight.
Eating disorders will manipulate you. They are not funny, they are not cute, they are not just for girls: they can affect anyone and they want to hurt you. Eating disorders are not your friend, even though it will sometimes feel like it.
Bottom line: at the end of the day, there aren’t many endings to this aside from recovery or death.
Eating disorders can stem from other problems in a person’s life possibly regarding a lack of control, mental health issues, or other personal struggles that aren’t really centered around the way one looks. It is putting one “controllable” thing (your body) into your own hands and making it the center of your life so that the other uncontrollable problems don’t take up as much space in your head.
In other words, an eating disorder is typically a SYMPTOM of something else. Trying to “fix” someone by focusing on the eating disorder alone can just make the person turn to something else to cope (alcohol, drugs, impulsive buying, sex, anything addictive.) I turned to self harming.
Focusing on the ED alone is the equivalent of pulling weeds out, but leaving the roots.
You don’t have to drop your ED all at once! It can be slow. You may have relapses. But you can do it at a comfortable pace. As long as you recognize that you have to try eventually.
Having an eating disorder shouldn’t be such a shameful thing. No wonder people rarely try to get help on their own when it’s framed as a joke or when people can handle it so horribly.
It needs to stop.
We need knowledgeable people in schools teaching students these things so we can create more understanding eventual adults and overall, a less stigmatized culture.
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