People with disordered eating are frequently misunderstood. The control or unhealthy use of food and weight management are coping mechanisms. These coping mechanisms can be very effective in helping the person to survive their emotional trauma or anguish. There are negative consequences, which can (when extreme) threaten their life. This is very frightening for everyone: the person themselves and everyone who is close to the person. It is really important to listen to what is going on for someone with an eating disorder so we can understand how life feels for them.
The following passage was written by someone who has lived with an eating disorder for many years. They had the great bravery and courage to share it:
“Whatever the eating problem don’t think you are alone or in any way that it is your fault. This is often a way of coping with problems and deeper issues in a way that blocks out feelings, numbs you when you feel unable to cope with events and life.
It is very often misunderstood by people. People think it is a way of controlling the only thing that often you feel is the only thing in life you can control but the problem is that unless you get help (and the sooner you get help the better) then it soon takes over your life and it starts controlling you rather than you controlling it.
Without help, you can feel very depressed, very alone and very desperate. It takes over your life, often to the point that nothing else matters and you lose friends as it is difficult to socialise and have friends. It is very difficult to cope in this world with an eating problem because it becomes a very lonely, secretive existence. In order to cope people turn to desperate measures in order to lose weight or in the case of bulimia to cover up what they do. With little understanding and comments from people like ‘pull yourself together and just eat’ and ‘how selfish you are’ just makes it a more lonely place to be. It is very difficult to cope in today’s world where socialising is important to a lot of people. It really does ruin your life and there is a better happier existence to be had.
I would urge anyone to get help as soon as possible. This is not your fault and there will be some underlying reason why this problem started in the first place. Maybe you have numbed yourself of some painful event that you don’t even realise what that is but the eating problem is masking it. Confiding in someone who understands and won’t judge will really help take the pressure off. Feeling lonely and desperate is an awful place to be and it might seem no one will understand but with the right help and knowing there are other people out there feeling just like you will help.”
I encourage you to talk, read and listen to as much as you can during Eating Disorder Awareness Week, to raise awareness and understanding of what can be a lonely, isolating and frightening illness.
Further information and help can be found here