I can't count the times I have started and deleted this post over the last year. I'm just going to go for it, and not delete anything. Hopefully it doesn't get too jumbled, but if it does then just stick with me. This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness week. I mentioned it in a post last year, and as much as I really wanted to dive into the topic, I just couldn't. Not then. Honestly not even now. But I'm going to try. So why is this topic so important to me? Because I have an eating disorder.
Putting this out there is really hard for me, and something that I have gone back and forth with so many times. It labels me. It sticks me in a category. It makes me a statistic. It stereotypes me. It opens my life up for societies interpretation. I don't think I will every be 100% ready to share, but I think now is as good a time as any. If just one person can relate to this, and this helps them to get through one day, one hour, or even just one meal, then this post is already worth it. So I'm doing this for you guys. And a little for me.
Now before anyone freaks out, starts giving me numbers for various programs, or offers advice, please know that I'm okay. I've been okay for a while, and I've taken the steps necessary to be and stay healthy. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to open up about that, but just know that it's true.
Your next question might be "why do you say you have an eating disorder if you're okay?" Well, it's kind of hard to answer that. An eating disorder isn't something you just get over, like the flu. It's something that sticks with you, that you have to work at it every day. There are good days, and bad days; Good months, and bad months. I honestly don't know if I will every truly be "okay" but right now, I am. That is all you need to know.
I think it's really important for me to finally address this and talk about it, because there are so many stereotypes and messages from the media that go along with eating disorders that drive me nuts. Here are some things I really want everyone to know:
1. Just because a person is extremely thin, does not mean they have an eating disorder.
2. Just because someone is chunky, does not mean they don't have an eating disorder. There is no shape an eating disorder takes on.
3. While many people blame the media and society's view of thin being beautiful as the cause for many eating disorders, that is not always true. I know for me, it has more to do with control than it does with my weight. So please stop assuming you know why it happens.
4. Do not ever tell a person with an eating disorder how great and thin they look. While I'm sure it comes from your heart, you are just telling us that we look better when we are unhealthy.
5. Don't feel like you need to understand. I honestly don't always understand it, and I don't need other people to. Just be supportive.
6. Skinny shaming is just as bad as fat shaming. Curves are beautiful. But so are all body types. Some people are naturally thin and bony. Some people naturally have a very straight shape. Let's not say one shape is better than the others.
7. Do. Not. Preach. About. Diet. And. Exercise. There is nothing that drives me batty more than someone saying "well if you just eat this and exercise this amount, you'll be thin and stop the eating disorder!" That's a bit more dramatic than needed, but you get my point. That is just flat out annoying, and there is no way to just "stop" an eating disorder. Plus for those of us who are not trying to attain a certain weight, it really isn't relative to even talk about. We probably know all the things you are saying.
8. No matter how much we want to stop, and hate what is happening, it is very difficult. We get frustrated with ourselves, so please cut us some slack. I know it's frustrating when you want to help someone and can't, but pressuring that person isn't going to help anything.
9. Don't police a person with an eating disorder. By monitoring what we eat or our bathroom breaks, you're really just going to make us mad. Sometimes those steps are necessary during treatment programs, in which case right on my friend, but if we are at a good stage, then please don't.
10. Don't look at us differently.
It feels really good to just get those things out. I'm actually surprised I just wrote this entire post without pressing the backspace (except for when I misspelled a word). I'm not sure how long I'll keep this post up, or even if I will post it, but at least I've written it. I've wanted to for a while, but I didn't want any of my close friends to find out this way. Now that the majority of them know, I feel that this is my next step. So here goes nothing.