11 Things Girls Who've Struggled With Eating Disorders Need To Hear

No matter where you are in relation to eating disorders - maybe you have one right now, maybe you're 1 month recovered, maybe 10 years, maybe your friend has one and you don't know how to help - you need to know that you're not alone. There are people who understand your struggle and what to help. You don't have to struggle alone. I someone who stands with you, take my 11 pieces of wisdom:

1. Eating Disorders Are Legitimate Mental Illnesses

Depression gets most of the mainstream attention, and deservingly so, because it is the most popular. But your eating disorder is legitimate too. Your pain is just as real. Your suffering deserves attention. And we must do better at preventing these.

2. It's Not Your Fault

Whether or not you wished you were skinnier before, you did not bring this on yourself. No one wants to be physically unable to eat food, having their mind dictated by calories to the point of risking all social interaction and health.

3. You Shouldn't Be Ashamed To Ask For Help


If you suffered a physical illness such as cardiovascular disease, you would see a doctor, right? No shame? And you wouldn't question the advice or medication they gave you. You wouldn't question whether you were worthy of the medication, whether you were sick enough to need it. It shouldn't be any different with your disease. If you need medication or in-patient treatment or therapy, that doesn't mean you're weak. It means you're sick and you need treatment.

4. Starving And Purging Are Not Actually Forms Of Control

Your mind tells you that the only way you're going to be in control is if you deny or get rid of the food. That's how you have control over your body and weight, right? But that's not true. You're a slave to your mind and you deny food when you really want it and you purge until it hurts. Your disorder has the control, not you.

 5. Your View Of Your Body Is Distorted

Whatever you see in the mirror, a bulging stomach and thick thighs and meaty arms, that's not what others see. A component of an eating disorder is body dysmorphia. That means you literally see something different, your mind distorts the image you see into something less favourable. Know that no matter how fat you think the person in the mirror is, that's not how you look and that's not what others think. That's your mind playing mean tricks on you. Trust your loved ones and not yourself while you're sick.




6. No Thigh Gap Or Dress Size Defines You

If you never get a thigh gap or never reach your goal dress size, you're not going to be any less of a person. No guy is looking for a thigh gap when he sets out to date or hit on a woman. No person picks their friends based on the size they wear at H&M. Your career goals, your sense of humour, your intelligence, your taste in music - the things people fall in love with about you will not be changed by the scale.


 7. Focus On Getting Your Strength Rather Than Your Weight Back

It's daunting to watch the numbers on the scale rise as you recover, so put the scale away. While you're sick, you're very weak. Your body is weak. Focus on getting healthy rather than getting the scale back to a healthy weight. Focus on not being cold all of the time, not having chest pain, being able to build muscle once you have the right amount of nourishment.

8. Focus On Positives Like Getting A New Wardrobe

Instead of thinking of regaining weight or undoing the duration of your disorder, think of positives. Without your illness weighing you down, you'll be happier around your friends. You'll be able to get a new wardrobe or new pieces to show off your new, healthy body. You'll feel good eating your favourite foods again.

 9. Surround Yourself With People Who Don't Fixate On Weight


I think one of the most dangerous influences on someone recovering from an eating disorder are friends who focus on weight. You know the type - those that say "I need to lose weight" and "I need to work out" and "God, my thighs are HUGE" on the reg. Those people are taking whatever energy you might have to focus on positive things and making you refocus on weight. These people are making you think it's okay to disparage your body. It's not. Surround yourself with people who will aid your recovery.

10. Know That You Will Have Bad Days Once You're Healthy

Once you recover, things won't always be easy. There is a chance of relapse. And there will be days you look in the mirror and compare yourself to a skinnier version of yourself. These days do not signify that you're recovery wasn't remarkable and worth it. These days are normal. Do something that makes you happy - watch your favourite movie, go for a walk, invite over a good friend to talk. And know that the next day you'll feel better. Just try not to give in to the negative thinking that once controlled you.

 11. But Remember That You Have Power Over Your Mind Now

Even if you think in the moment that you were prettier then, had more will-power then, etc., remember that the eating disorder made you plan your life around food and weight. Food became your number one priority and you had to abandon time meant for friends and family and dating and your aspirations to plan meals and agonize over calories. The place you are in now is so much better than that, because now you can shut down that thinking and live your life. Remember that now you have power over your mind.



Video: What It's Like Living With An Eating Disorder



Credit: BuzzFeedYellow

Casey Schmauder
Article written by
Casey Schmauder is a third year student at the University of Pittsburgh studying nonfiction writing and psychology, currently enjoying a study abroad in Ireland writing for CollegeTimes and TeenTimes.

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