The Observant One
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Health and Wellness

The Observant One

My perspective and experience shared for Eating Disorder Awareness Week

The Observant One
The Sheaf

I'd like to think I'm the observant friend. Whether I say what I see or choose silence instead, I take note and never truly forget.

I never forget the shaking, frigid fingers expertly grazing over food plates and soft drinks

but never touching.

Or the quiet excuses and quick bathroom runs after every meal

without eye contact or explanation.

I have yet to forget the sips and small bites, scraped pieces of food found in napkins, passing the large leftovers along to the dog

Or even the side-eye glances when I dive in for seconds or thirds.

The judgmental, longing looks that puzzled me through countless preteen parties and birthday dinners will always be apart of those memories.

I am no stranger to the retching sounds of stomach acid echoing down dark hallways during sober sleepovers.

Or the social media feeds filled with bony, blonde models with muscular, top-shape body builders on every one of their phone screens.

Mothers making subtle comments like,

“Oh, you're going to eat that whole thing?”

“Think of the calories, sweetie”

and “You don't really need that, do you?”

Causing second-guesses and self-consciousness.

I am no stranger to environments filled with nasty, uneducated “jokesters”. The ones who never know when they've reached their limits; never know when they've crossed the line.

Skinny, careless little dancers and athletes who are the best at making every restaurant outing an awkward, miserable mental battle for those who know they are the butt of the joke.

The ones who order dressing-less salads, scowl at clueless burger-eaters, internally wishing they were anyone else.

Feeling unwelcome, uncomfortable, and alone.

But of course, it’s not just the kids. The coaches, the teachers, the leaders, even the parents are in on the mind games, too. The protectors get wrapped up in the war, whether they notice it or not.

The push for acceptance.

The pull for balanced normalcy.

The craving for self-love.

The desire for mental peace.

There are so many subtle symptoms and signs, how can anyone fully understand the complexity of it all? But at the same time, how can anyone miss it?

These thoughts keep me up at night, now more than ever, because after all these years I finally know my suspicions were not overreactions. I know that IT IS NOT NORMAL.

I know her fear of eating in public and her 5 hour workouts and her hourly bathroom runs were not normal.

I know her inability to finish her plate, the pinch marks on her yellowish-skin, the longing looks at skinny, edited models were not okay.

But it wasn't just her. There were and still are so many of my friends, too many. Far too many for the pieces of the puzzle to only click now.

Maybe it was because I grew up in strict dance studios surrounded by loads of judgmental, fit kids, or maybe it wasn't.

Yes, I am the observant one. But I was always asking the wrong questions.

Instead of expressing my concern for their health or their mental stability, I would ask about their day, in hopes that the conversation would grow or sink or show any kind of real “sign” that I wasn't crazy for taking notice of the little things.

I was always too worried about being rude, being obsessive, being observant.

Maybe I was the one overthinking everything. Maybe they would turn it around on me; hate me, berate me, yell at me, put me back in my place as the “clueless onlooker”.

For the best thing to do was “see not say” ...right?

Years and years later I am finally able to recognize the fact that they all had a hunger for acceptance, but never for substance.

And I let them be because I was scared. I was scared they were destroying themselves. I was scared they would lash out. I was scared they would show me the dark truth and I wouldn't know how to really help them.

But along with all these things, I was uneducated.

Did I know something was off with their behaviors?


Did I see these girls clearly needing help at times?


Did I ever know there was a name for it?


When I learned about these mental battles, I was appalled. How was I just discovering these terms? I was finally learning that all the questionable actions of people I loved and cared about that had haunted me for years were in fact medical symptoms and signs.


They are scary, heartbreaking, abusive, and twisted beyond comparison. But they are real and have names.

ANOREXIA is real

BULIMIA is real



They are mental war zones that are just as real and exhausting as depression, anxiety, OCD, and so many other mental disorders.

At times, it may be difficult to remember that many people with eating disorders are consumed with a stream of degrading, discouraging thoughts and they are unable to turn off the negativity. Through personal experiences I know it can be near impossible to get through to those who are completely unaware of their disorder, and while it can be an incredibly touchy situation, it is also a process. The process of breaking out of that awful bubble of self-hatred and other mental struggles may seem neverending, but it takes time, love, and most of all support. Beating an eating disorder means becoming aware and recognizing they are serious battles to overcome.

So then why are eating disorders only spoken of in hushed whispers?

Why are most people in the world unaware that 20 million women and 10 million men are estimated to struggle with at least one eating disorder during their lifetime?

Why do eating disorders have the highest death rate among any psychiatric illness, and yet, society stays silent?

Why do so many men and women suffer in silence due to a lack of understanding and knowledge on this subject?

Eating disorders are complex and differ from person to person, but there are still things that can be done as a society to help those battling with these disorders:

  • STOP glamorizing underweight BMIs
  • DESTROY the idea of anorexia being the only “serious” eating disorder
  • UNDERSTAND the intensity and life-threatening issues that come along with eating disorders
  • RECOGNIZE no person is too damaged to recover
  • SPEAK UP when you know something's not right
  • VALIDATE that any body type is susceptible to eating disorders
  • EMPOWER those who are healing

  • Educate others, love all. Be a helping hand to those who need it, even if they don't know that support is crucial for healing.

    It is okay to be the observant one, but it is NOT okay to be the silent one.


    Note: If you or anyone you know is struggling with an eating disorder (or showing possible signs/symptoms never hesitate to call the National Eating Disorder Awareness Hotline for assistance at 1-800-931-2237. Do your research! Be observant! Always be on the look out for signs of mental distress or eating disorder symptoms! Spread positivity at all times... this world needs it :)

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    This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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