I know it’s difficult to come to terms with a condition that you cannot see. The world’s perception of an eating disorder is the malnourished, emaciated body associated with anorexia. You have been wired to think this too.
I know that makes it almost impossible to feel valid enough for treatment, especially when your BMI is exactly average in the ‘healthy’ range. Of course, you know something is not right, but your family doesn’t see it; your friends don’t see it; you’re obviously not sick enough.
You stubbornly hold onto that idea as incentive to do what you always do.
It is widely accepted that sufferers of bulimia are normal weight and even overweight. For too long, I continued down bulimia’s destructive path because of the stubborn mind-set I had that ‘I didn’t look like I had a problem’. I didn’t realise how much damage my illness was doing just because I gave it that power. It wants you to get really sick; and if you listen to it, you will. Please do not listen to it.
But it doesn’t matter what your eating disorder is; if you think that way, it has to change. An eating disorder was never a body, it is an illness rooted deep inside your mind. It will take over your life, no matter how ‘in control’ you think you are. ALL eating disorders are valid, and can be affecting any person of any shape or size.
In the words of Laurie Halse Anderson, “it didn’t make her skinny; it made her cry”.
Whether you’re in recovery, or you’re still suffering, you might still struggle to accept that you have a problem. I still do. It’s difficult to remain in recovery when no one asks what’s wrong because they can’t see your struggle. It’s enough to send you back to your eating disorder telling you what you should do about it. Your eating disorder will never try to help you, or bring you happiness.
Please believe that you have a problem. You do not lack discipline or control; you are sick. Don’t let your eating disorder scream words to encourage you to become ‘sick enough’.
I know it seems easier said than done, and it is. I know how lost and lonely it feels to have a story only you know about. But I was that person, and I know now, that that does not make it any less of a story. In fact, the world needs to hear your story so that the emaciated girl isn’t the only face of an eating disorder.
Besides, it’s not always about losing weight, is it?
My condition is not any less serious just because I’m not underweight. I only chose to believe that. You don’t have to fit into any category to have your problem. You really don’t – and shouldn’t – have to suffer. Your eating disorder’s severity was never based on how much you weigh, how much you eat, or what you eat.
If you had to tell me you are suffering, I would believe you. Please believe yourself as well. Stop delaying your recovery and chance at being happy because of the ‘I’m not sick enough stigma’.