In today's society, eating disorders are more prevalent than ever.
According to Mirasol Eating Disorder Recovery Centers, an estimated eight million Americans suffer from an eating disorder, including one million men.
As these diseases become more widespread and affect people of all ages, races, and genders — it is imperative that more light is shed on this epidemic and courses of action be taken.
Unfortunately, as things become more common, they become more normalized. As eating disorders have increased, they have also become more standardized within society. This can lead to many cases being overlooked, ignored or forgotten about.
“____ didn't eat lunch today, I think she might have an eating disorder."
“____ looks so thin, he must be starving himself."
“I heard ____ throwing up in the stall next to me, she must have bulimia."
These conversations have become more and more prevalent, and so has the severity. With the severity at an all-time high, how have we not managed to educate society more about eating disorders?
Eating disorders are mental disorders, not lifestyle choices.
As a victim of one of these mental illnesses, Anorexia Nervosa, I can say from first-hand experience that those who suffer from eating disorders are truly helpless to the disease without the proper care and treatment.
Anorexia Nervosa robbed me of a year of my life, a year I can't get back.
A year spent obsessing over every calorie consumed and every calorie burned. A year spent obsessing over the reflection I saw staring back at me in the mirror. A year spent hating myself. A year spent distancing myself from friends and the people I loved most.
A year spent shrinking my body away, and as my body shrank, so did my happiness.
My disorder began as a result of choices I made. Choices to workout more and choices to eat less. However, once the powerful disease finds a vulnerable victim to prey upon, those actions no longer become choices. Those actions turn into vicious cycles.
My life was controlled by Anorexia Nervosa.
Lucky for me, I was blessed with a wonderful support system. Those friends and loved ones who I had spent so much time distancing myself from, recognized that I was no longer in control, and Anorexia Nervosa was commanding my every move.
The people I loved most spoke up and got me the help I needed.
If it wasn't for my family and friends I wouldn't be the person I am today. I wouldn't have overcome Anorexia Nervosa or gotten to experience many of the wonderful opportunities I have in the past few years.
Suffering from an eating disorder has made me much more aware of the intensity and severity of these diseases, as well as the growing prevalence.
Although my eating disorder shaped me into the person I am today and made me stronger than I ever thought I could be, I would never wish it upon anyone else. My situation could have ended very differently if I didn't receive the support I needed.
Mirasol Eating Disorder Centers also found that only one in ten people with an eating disorder receive treatment. Only ONE IN TEN. That is not OK!
Stop normalizing these cruel diseases and start spreading awareness.
Stop and remind yourself that size does not define you. Appearances do not define you. And the number on the scale certainly does not define you.