Proud2Bme | "Just a Little Eating Disorder": Getting the Help I Deserve

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"Just a Little Eating Disorder": Getting the Help I Deserve

By Anya Josephs, SPARK Movement--You deserve to get better.

Even if your eating disorder isn’t typical. Even if you don’t have symptoms every day. Even if you aren’t underweight. Even if your eating disorder has just started.

You deserve to get better.

I have a very atypical eating disorder. But so does everyone. Every eating disorder is different, because every person who has an eating disorder is different and unique. We develop our eating disorders for different reasons, and they affect us in different ways— but the answer is the same for all of us.

The answer is choosing treatment and recovery. Without it, the consequences can be deadly.

I’m twenty years old, and I’ve had my eating disorder for ten years. I never thought I could belong in a professional treatment setting because I’ve been overweight the entire time I’ve had my eating disorder, despite severe calorie restriction and purging symptoms. Because I wasn’t losing weight, and because no one ever suspected I had an eating disorder, I thought I must not be that sick.

It’s scary to admit that. I’ve been invalidated by a lot of people, some whom I valued very much, some whom I loved, some whom I was told to respect and listen to. I’m afraid of talking publicly about my eating disorder, afraid walking into my treatment center when there are going to be new people there, afraid someone will tell me I don’t deserve to be there, that I must be lying or exaggerating because I don’t look like someone with an eating disorder.

Luckily, I was able to get help anyway. Asking for it was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. It was so hard to tell my parents and ask them to support me through treatment, to look into different treatment centers, to call and make intake appointments at several different places, to fill out all the paperwork, to detail my painful history of disordered eating to doctor after doctor. I’ve already thought about giving up many times. Maybe, I’ve thought, I’m just not ready. Maybe I need to prepare more for treatment. Maybe I’ll be okay with just therapy. Maybe I’m making the whole thing up. Yet despite these thoughts, I continued to seek out the help I need.

There is no such thing as “just a little eating disorder.” It may seem inconsequential, but it will grow, and sooner or later it would have destroyed my life. It was already dragging down my grades, stealing the energy I otherwise could have devoted to the student theatre groups, LGBTQ club, and part-time work I had to give up on, sapping my creativity, and worst of all destroying my relationships with friends and family.

I am only a month into the process of recovery. I know that I have a long, long journey ahead of me, and that it may get worse before it gets better.

But I also know that every single person in treatment with me has at some point felt like she doesn’t really have an eating disorder. Like she doesn’t deserve to get better. Like she’s somehow different than everyone else there.

I wish you, if you have ever struggled with disordered eating, could be there in treatment just for a minute, just so we can tell you face to face— as we do for each other every day— that your eating disorder is real. That the pain it causes you is valid. And that you deserve a full and happy life without it.

Now, during National Eating Disorders Awareness week, I’m urging us to all be aware for ourselves— to be aware that our disorders exist, and to be aware that hope exists as well. However, even if you don’t suffer from an eating disorder yourself, be aware that someone you know almost certainly does. It may not take a typical form, it may not be obvious, but it is probably there hurting someone you love. If you notice someone suffering from disordered behavior around food or tormenting themselves with obsession around food and weight, encourage them to get real, professional help. Everyone deserves treatment, and recovery is possible for everyone, no matter what your eating disorder looks like.

About this blogger: Anya Josephs is a sophomore at Columbia University in New York City, where she is (probably) majoring in English. She grew up in Chapel Hill, NC and has been an activist with SPARK Movement for more than 3 years. She especially enjoys writing about LGBTQ issues, eating disorders, and body positivity. Her proudest SPARK-related accomplishment to date is being called a “humorless feminazi” on reddit. When not angrily blogging, she is passionately involved with theatre, especially Shakespeare, reading, and failing to finish writing a play.

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

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