Proud2Bme | Shattering ED’s Carnival Mirror

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Shattering ED’s Carnival Mirror

By Katrin Alyss--I am sure that many people who haven’t had an eating disorder or seen their loved one struggling with an eating disorder don’t understand what it’s like. They just see the outside view, which is the losing weight and exercise part. What they don’t see is the inside pain of the person going through this condition and trying to gain control in their life.

Trigger warning: Descriptions of eating disordered behavior.

For many individuals, this could come from years of bullying or surviving physical, emotional or sexual abuse. The eating disorder is like a temporary Band-Aid to hide all the years of pain that the sufferer is feeling. 

I was always told that I was “heavier” or “needed to lose the weight.”  I still compare myself with models in magazines or stars on television. I have to remember that everyone has a different body type and I am at what my therapist deems a stable weight for me. I don’t want to go backwards into the black abyss of the eating disorder for something I will never attain.

Eating disorder sufferers can’t see how unhealthy we are because that carnival mirror tricks us into seeing ourselves as heavier than we really are. When I was going through my worst, I didn’t see myself as “unhealthy.” My therapist saw it and wanted to stop me before I went too far. I saw myself as having to lose more weight because of the voice in my head that propelled me further into the maze of the eating disorder.

With an eating disorder, everything is so convoluted in our heads; it is like a jumbled ball of yarn. When we reach this point, it is up to our families and treatment team to help guide us down the road to recovery—whether it is through therapy or more intensive treatment like hospitalization, day programs or residential programs. For me, it took the threat of being in a hospital to snap me awake and to start moving toward the road to recovery.

Despite struggling, I continued to hear damaging comments like, “Why can’t you eat like a normal person and grow up?” There were others like, “It is just a cheeseburger and fried chicken; it isn’t going to kill you!” What these people didn’t know is that those types of comments can scare us into not eating, because of that angry ED voice.

This is the voice that keeps track of calories and eating disordered behavior. The voice that says, “If you restrict, you are stronger by not eating the high-calorie foods like those other people who have no discipline do!” When I heard people’s misguided attempts at getting me to eat, it only increased my eating disordered behaviors around restricting and over-exercising. What outsiders don’t understand is that eating disorders are not only about food. Eating disorders are a symptom of something going on in our lives that manifest in disordered behaviors.

Instead of making judgments, those who have never struggled with eating disordered behaviors should educate themselves about what eating disorders are. If you have a loved one who is going through this, please don’t tell them to “just eat” or oversimplify their disorder—it may backfire and drive them further into the eating disorder. We need love, understanding and security in knowing that you will be there to help us.

Check out NEDA’s resources on helping a loved one:

How to Help a Friend with Eating and Body Image Issues

What Should I Say?: Tips for Talking to a Friend Who May Be Struggling with an Eating Disorder

For recovery resources and treatment options, call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 800-931-2237.

About the blogger: Katrin lives in Roseville MI, with her best friend and life partner. She loves to go to Cedar Point during the summer, where she can ride the biggest coasters. At home she takes care of her two kitties, Nefi and Horatio. Katrin loves to help others fight this battle called the eating disorder and hopes to inspire others through her writing and truthfulness. Her hobbies include writing, painting T-shirts, dancing and spending time with her husband and friends.

Also by Katrin:

A Winding Road to Recovery

Recovery is More Important Than a Fitness Tracker

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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.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

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