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National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2024

The last week of February is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. As someone who has struggled with eating disorders since middle school, I feel that this is such an important week. While we learn about eating disorders in health class, I don’t think they really touch upon just how serious they are. You just get a quick general overview – at least that’s how it was for me way back in the day. I really do hope that things are different.

For those of you that don’t know, I have a long history of disordered eating, which I wrote about here. I restricted food regularly. I was never overweight by any means. But, between body dysmorphia, depression, and anxiety, it was about more than just how I looked. Sure, I cared about my appearance. But I also used it as a way to punish myself. Or, it was because I was too anxious or depressed to eat. It’s something I still very much struggle with today.

My Recovery Today

I wish I could say that I’m healed and better. But, as I just said, I still very much struggle. Eating disorders are one of those life long recovery things. There will be good periods, but there will also be bad periods. Much like other mental health issues, the recovery is not linear.

Struggles With Body Dysmorphia

I think the thing for me that still blows my mind is how much body dysmorphia distorts my view of myself. Recently, I was going through my old photos on my phone from years ago. I was trying to clean up some space on my phone and I came across a lot of old photos of me. There were so many pictures I saw of myself where I remember thinking I looked so fat and disgusting. I was significantly smaller than I was now. It absolutely blows my mind that I was looking at myself then and thinking I was huge back then.

This is from 2021. When I first saw this picture, I thought it was the worst picture ever. I hated how my legs looked.

It’s not even just with old photos of me either. To this day, I find myself staring at myself in the mirror and just hating what I see. I am heavier than I was years ago, but I’m by no means fat. I am a healthy, normal weight. But when I look in the mirror, the first thing that comes into my brain is “fat.” Yet, I’ll see unposed pictures of myself and then be blown away because the things I saw in the mirror were not reality.

When I’m posed and thinking about my body, I very much close into myself because I don’t want to be looked at or perceived. I’m terrified of what others think about me and my body. It’s hard not to be when social media is filled with tiny people and when comment sections of celebrities and influencers are filled with comments about their bodies.

And, because I’m so physically uncomfortable with myself, it shows in photos. I press my arms close to myself and my arms look huge. But, I know they’re not because I’ve seen unposed pictures of me and they’re fine. In fact, they look small. It’s just something I still really struggle with, I’m still learning to love my body and be confident in it. It’s been such a work in progress. I still find myself wearing oversized clothes to hide my body. I’ll try to wear other things to dress up. But, I feel so uncomfortable that I end up changing into clothes that hide everything. I will sometimes change 5 times before leaving the house.

I hadn’t worn this fitted sweater last year because I was self-conscious in it. But, I wore it this year to my niece’s birthday party. I almost changed though lol.

Relationship with Food & Eating

In terms of my relationship with food, it’s a lot better. I don’t restrict foods or view anything as bad. But when it comes to actually eating, I still skip a lot of meals. Eating meals can still be a really daunting task for me. But, it’s not because I’m afraid of food or eating. It really has to do with my mental health and really just not wanting to cook. Thankfully, I have a boyfriend who recognizes this and will go out of his way to make me food to make sure I eat. He knows otherwise, I might go the whole day or most of the day without eating.

Wrapping Up

So all in all, I’m definitely doing relatively well in my recovery compared to where I’ve been with my struggle with eating disorders. The disordered eating is still very much a part of my life to this day. It’s easy to just fall back into the habit of not eating because my body is just so used to it. But, I have people who do look out for me and gently remind me to eat or ask if I’ve eaten, which helps.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, know that there is help. I’d suggest working with a therapist who specializes in eating disorders and/or a nutritionist or dietitian to help you with eating. Nutritional rehabilitation an important part of treatment in order to restore the body and brain to sufficient health and to be able to proceed with psychological intervention.