What Does An Eating Disorder Look Like?

What Does An Eating Disorder Look Like?

The thought process of someone in recovery.

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What does an eating disorder look like?

For most people, you would imagine an eating disorder to look like thigh gaps, being able to see someone's bones through their body, someone who looks ill and who cannot function in society.

I used to fit this image, for the most part, I had the thigh gap and the visible rib cage and spine but most people weren't even aware, or they didn't say anything to me, if anything I received more compliments about how amazing my body was or how great it was that I lost the weight. I guess that speaks to the extent that society indoctrinates us, that we think people who are medically ill are considered 'goals'.

However

Eating disorders don't always look like this. I don't have an 'eating disorder' anymore, but I do have super weird habits. It's still abnormal and it still nags at you as my disorder did.

I managed to gain the weight back but to be perfectly honest, I cannot comment on my size because I'm not really sure how I look to other people. If you asked me, I would say that no one would look at me and think I had a problem with eating because of the layers of fat in areas A, B, C all the way to X, Y and Z but if you ask the people I talk to about this, they would probably say I was skinny or that I looked healthy- I know this because they tell me all the time.

It's very weird to put yourself in the mind of someone that used to or still has this mindset, what I see is not what other people see, I know that. I know that because whenever I order clothes, I order clothes that are too big for me, I always worry about how fat I look until a stranger or friend without being provoked comments on my slim figure, I know because I still own size XS clothing that fits me, I just don't see it.

The way my little 'voice' as I like to call it operates now is not t completely starve myself but just works as a cut reminder that I'm still 'too big' or 'not thin enough' and whilst it doesn't sound like the biggest problem- I mean, it isn't like I'm not dead or severely deficient of nutrients it definitely acts up sometimes.

There have been many times, particularly recently where I choose between eating and not eating, I think for most people it isn't a conscious decision, it's mainly, I'm awake so I'll make food or I'm hungry so I'll eat or I'm so busy I forgot or don't have the time. For me, about 80% of the time it's a "do I need that?" or "how many calories have I already ate" or "if I eat that now, I can eat that later" or cant or whatever depending on how much I've already consumed. I always check nutrition information and eating at restaurants is a nightmare because I don't know what's going into my body.

There are days I can't go to school because I think I'm so fat and look fat in all of my clothes that I can't leave the house because I'm so ashamed or think people will see me and think I look fat or think I've gained weight.

It's not even just the idea of being fat that goes around my head whenever it spirals it spiraaalllls as in okay now you're not just fat you're kind of lazy too or you're useless or you're stupid, it gets pretty mean sometimes, so yeah that little voice in my head, she's kind of a bitch.

Oh, and she always ruins my fun too, I'm always torn between the living my life as a regular student going out all the time and drinking or going to meals with my friends or gaining weight. I'm usually pretty terrified of going out because;

Alcohol = calories = weight gain

So, to prepare for this, I either don't eat- which is ridiculous because then I'm shitfaced really quickly, orrrrr I do eat but do even more cardio than usual, or I go just out anyway and then have a breakdown. It's a fun cycle, I like to keep my emotions on their toes.

Oh and let's not forget the obsessive need to exercise all the time. To be fair, this isn't as bad as when I was ill-ill and used to force myself to walk a minimum of ten miles according to my little fit bit and would run on the spot when doing nothing to achieve this. No, this is more like a "you have to train weights for muscle, but then you have to do cardio because you don't burn enough calories, but then you still probably don't so let's just walk everywhere and then you're good, ok, cool"

I mean realistically, all the cardio probably hurts my gains and I know this but here we go, and what's funny is I always lecture my friends on eating properly and making sure they get calories in them and are healthy and happy and to not worry about gaining weight because IT DOESN'T MATTER as long as you're healthy one size does not fit all but in secret I'm like "ok but like who needs breakfast??? Or lunch??? Me???? No lol". I mean, I guess I just don't want anyone to think the way I do about themselves.

It comes and goes, the other day I ate three meals. THREE MEALS. In one day. First time in over a month and a half, yes ma'am. But more often than not I have my super self conscious days and we work with that.

To sum up, whilst I'm not 'anorexic' these thoughts manifest themselves in all weird and wonderful ways, especially as someone who had it and recovered. I think, gaining 25lb regardless of how good it is for you is always triggering, considering our society tells us weight gain is ALWAYS bad and these thoughts just happen to live inside my head.

BUT, it isn't 'normal' so, if you do experience these, on a regular basis, or you feel you may not necessarily have a problem but maybe a little obsessive or share similar characteristics just talk to someone, see a doctor, see a friend, a parent. Don't let it spiral, be good to yourselves. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed access to my inner super deep thoughts, thanks for letting me use this platform as an open therapy session.


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Positivity is so important in life. A lot of times we always go to quotes for empowerment but I have realized that just one word can be just as powerful. Here is a list of inspiring words.

1. Worthy

Realizing your self-worth is important. Self-worth can really make or break a persons personality. Always know that you are worthy of respect. And also, never compare yourself to others.

2. Courage

Be courageous in life. Life has so many opportunities so do not be scared to grasp any opportunity that comes your way. You have the ability to do anything you have your heart and mind set to do, even the things that frighten you.

3. Enough

When you are feeling down and feeling that nothing you do is ever good enough, know that you are more than enough. And yes there is always room for improvement but when it comes to my self-worth I always have to remind myself that I am enough.

4. Blessed

Be thankful. A lot of times we forget how blessed we are. We focus so much on stress and the bad things that are going on in our lives that we tend to forget all of the beautiful things we have in life.

5. Focus

Focus on your goals, focus on positive things, and focus on the ones you love. Do not focus on things that will keep you from not reaching your goals and people that do not have good intentions for your life.

6. Laugh

Laughing is one of the best forms of medicine. Life is truly better with laughter.

7. Warrior

Through the good and the bad you are a warrior. Be strong, soldier.

8. Seek

Seek new things. Allow yourself to grow in life. Do not just be stuck.

9. Faith

During the bad times, no matter the circumstances, have faith that everything will be all right.

10. Live

Start living because life is honestly way too short. Live life the way you want to live. Do not let anyone try to control you.

11. Enjoy

Enjoy everything that life has to offer. Enjoy even the littlest of things because, as I said before, life is short. And plus, there is no time to live life with regrets.

12. Believe

Believe in yourself and never stop. Believing in yourself brings so many blessings and opportunities in your life.

13. Serendipity

A lot of times we look for things to fill an empty void that we have. Usually what we are looking for comes when we are not looking at all. Your serendipity will come.

14. Create

Share your ideas with the world. Creativity brings change to your life. However you chose to use your creativity do not be scared to show your intelligence, talent, and passion.

15. Love

The world is already full of so much hate, so love unconditionally with all your heart.

Cover Image Credit: Tanveer Naseer

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Better Not Bitter

"Let your past make you better, not bitter."

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After completing my junior year at Iowa State, I have found myself reflecting on a lot of the experiences and people who have helped me get to the point I am at today. Family obviously comes to mind, followed by my friends, my sorority sisters, my boyfriend, my professors, and my mentors. I am able to contribute a lot of my success to their support and compassion that they have shown me throughout my past three years. I am also able to contribute my success to the woman I have grown to be and to the woman I have always wanted to be. You see, three years ago, the woman I was was buried in a toxic relationship that didn't allow me to flourish into the woman I was striving to be.

Let me take a step back, this article is not meant to bash the person who it is about. In fact, it's more of a thank you. Because you see, without him letting go of me, I would have never taken the leaps and bounds out of my comfort zone to become the woman I am so damn proud to be today. This is also not meant to say that I am I glad I was in such a toxic relationship, it was honestly so terrible that I wouldn't wish it upon anyone but I am in fact, thankful. I learned more from that relationship that I have in anything else in my life.

First, I learned to be a fighter, and not in a bad way. I learned to stand up for myself and what I believe in. I have become vocal about my passions and stand up for people when they are treated wrong. I no longer let people walk all over me, but rather I stand my ground firmly and confidently. Thank you.

Second, I learned to be fierce. Fierce in love, kindness, compassion, and willpower. I believe in my abilities and the things I am able to accomplish if I set my mind to something. I have learned that in being fierce, there is absolutely no time to doubt myself which has worked greatly in my favor. I learned that demanding respect in all relationships I have formed has been about me making the decision to make myself a priority and learning to never settle for any less than I deserve, ever again. Thank you.

Third, I learned compassion. I learned to be kind to the other woman, and mostly, to the person who chose to hurt me. It took everything in me to remain kind while I was being hurt, but I am so thankful that I stayed true to the values and morals I was raised on. I have carried this with me throughout the past three years by choosing to show compassion to all people around me, and looking deeper into the reasons behind the actions and decisions that people make. Often times there is something going on behind closed doors and because of that, it is important to always, always radiate kindness. Thank you.

I wanted to extend my gratitude to the person who hurt me because if you hadn't, I wouldn't be the badass, boss girl, powerful woman that I am today. I am confident, smart, loving, and fully capable of giving and receiving the kindest, most sincere kind of love. My life has changed for the better, and I wouldn't change a single thing. I wish you the best, because let me tell ya, it feels great.

By the way, if you ever feel like you deserve better than what you're receiving in a relationship, trust your gut & walk the hell away. It's worth it.

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