Love, Wellness

26 things you’ll understand if you’ve lived with an eating disorder

You know it's a disease, not a choice.

There was a time in the not too distant past when I would wake up every morning and step on the scale. At that time in my life, a three-digit number had the power to determine my mood for the day, every day.

Approximately 30 million people in the United States suffer from an eating disorder. Whether you’re currently struggling with ED or undergoing the recovery process, this is for you. If you’re reading this, know you’re not alone.

1. It’s a disease, not a choice. 

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2. ED works on the mind, not just the body.

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3. Eating disorders are not all so distinct. They often share elements, mesh together, and coexist.

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4. There’s usually one that dominates.

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5. Everything comes down to control (or lack thereof).

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6. The mirror is not an accurate depiction of reality.

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7. Hunger pangs can feel good.

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8. Calories, exercise and diet plans are thoroughly documented in journals, phones, and computers.

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9. The Internet is full of Pro-Ana sites and communities, if you know where to look.

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10. Little tasks, like opening the fridge and deciding what to make for breakfast, can be debilitating.

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11. If you’re going to binge, you’re going to eat 30 Reese’s, not 3.

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12. When you walk by any sort of mirror or reflection you can’t help but fixate on the size of your thighs.

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13. College exacerbates underlying tendencies.

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14. Photographs suck, both looking at old ones and taking new ones. It’s all evidence.

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15. Grocery shopping is exhausting.

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16. You spend hours thinking about what you’re going to eat (or not eat).

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17. If food is involved in the activity, you can’t concentrate on anything else.

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18. You tirelessly compare yourself to others.

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19. The not so pretty parts of being too thin: not getting your period for months and having your hair thin – even fall out.

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20. Watching the Amy Winehouse documentary invariably makes you cry.

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21. You lose your sex drive. It’s really difficult to get properly lubricated.

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22. But here’s the thing: shaming is never a viable solution.

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23. Comments like “You’re so skinny!” only serve as a dangerous positive reinforcement.

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24. Treatment starts by accepting there’s a problem in the first place.

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25. Not knowing is easier than knowing, because knowing means you have to change.

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26. Recovery is a day to day thing. Some days feel great, others you feel like you can’t leave your apartment because nothing fits or feels right.

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The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is a non-profit organization in the United States advocating on behalf of and supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders. You can call their helpline on 1-800-931-2237.

In the UK ABC, the Anorexia and Bulimia Care charity, offers befriending support to sufferers and has support helplines open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday. You can call them on: 03000 11 12 13.