Monday, June 3, 2013

Wanting an Eating Disorder

Earlier this spring on my flight home from a trip down south, a young man sat next to me and started up a friendly conversation. He asked what I was studying in school and I told him I am going into social work specializing in eating disorders. To my surprise he chuckled and said, "I need to get one of those."

Dumbfounded, I politely smiled and did my best to hide my angry eyes as he continued, "Sometimes I think that is the only way I can possibly lose weight. All I do is eat. I really need to get an eating disorder"

To most people this might sound like a careless joke, but as you can probably guess, I did not find this humorous at all. For the rest of the flight, my mind was off in eating disorder land. Before I truly developed my eating disorder, I remember thinking that I, too, wanted an eating disorder. There was a period of time when I would rip pictures of thin celebrities out of magazines and keep them in a folder as reminders of the "perfect" body. 

Unlike many anorexia patients, my eating disorder began with a series of binges. Those women in the magazine pictures were able to control their eating habits and I desperately wanted the same thing. The perfectionist in me was ready to do whatever it took to achieve that perfect body. A part of me wanted to stand out from the rest of my family and developing an eating disorder seemed to be the obvious solution.

A friend of mine from treatment had a somewhat similar experience. She was born a pastor's daughter and became tired of constantly trying to fit the perfect image everyone expected her to portrait. Possibly as a way to rebel against her family's ideal image, she desperately began to want something to be wrong with her. She, too, believed that developing an eating disorder would fill the holes in her heart. The eating disorder would allow her to slowly waste away and she would no longer needed to fill the perfect child role. 

Recently I have also been hearing about many young people who think an eating disorder would provide an escape from their everyday problems. To make matters worse, some individuals believe that because they wanted to develop an eating disorder, they do not deserve equal treatment. For years I have struggled to find a meaning behind the development of my eating disorder after growing up in a seemingly perfect household. Without any obvious answers, I believed that I was unworthy of treatment. If I was able to put myself in this situation, I should be able to get myself out - right? Unfortunately, eating disorders don't work that way.

Regardless of how or why an eating disorder is developed, the important thing is to understand that everyone is deserving of treatment.

To some, like the gentleman on my flight, developing an eating disorder might be a joke, but to others this is a very serious issue. In the moment, eating disorders might seem like the perfect solution but they are only a temporary fix. In the long run, my eating disorder only created a tremendous amount of pain for me and those who cared for me most.

As much as I hate to admit it, there was a time in my life when I truly wanted an eating disorder. It may have taken me a long time to understand that although I (partly) brought this upon myself, I am still worthy of receiving the help I deserve. I am no longer searching for the reason behind my eating disorder. What's done is done. The only thing I am focused on now is my future in recovery.

Progress.

16 comments:

  1. True. Looking at the past and finding about the cause sometimes gets us into nowhere, because in a way, I believe that there were the number of factors caused us to have some eating issues. About the gentle man, it would trigger me too. For these occasions, I tell myself, "he does not know." When people don't have the experience, they don't know what they are talking about. That usually puts me into the correct perspective. I also think/may say to trigger the others. We are not perfect, and forgiving and let go. xoxo

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    1. You're right there are so many different factors that play into an eating disorder. It's impossible to pick one. I can laugh about the guy on the plane now, but it wasn't funny in the moment.

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    2. Oh yes that's exactly it for me. I feel like I can't get help because I come from a good family I don't deserve it. And that I have to become sicker before I can deserve treatment. I have those thoughts everyday as I'm standing on the edge of my eating disorder and playing around with trying to recover. I want to but I feel that maybe I don't deserve to.

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    3. I struggled with this for years, too. I never thought I was sick enough and never got help until it was a life or death situation. Don't wait! You deserve to get help right now. There will never be a perfect time to recovery, so there is no point in waiting. Best of luck! <3

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  2. This post. I cannot even begin to explain the amount of times I have found myself thinking I am unworthy of treatment. Whether I think I have a reason why I developed my Ed or not it doesn't even matter because you are right, we all are deserving of help and support. I find it extremely irritating some people's views on the development of Ed's, that some can make a joke out of it and think nothing more. Actually on my facebook feed the other day I saw a post that read "I have an eating disorder... I am going to eat (insert food item). Lol." Like, really? Who does that. I guess it's just hard to imagine NOT knowing what it is like and to put myself in the shoes of others without the experience (like artytech said above). I love how you end by saying "What's done is done. The only thing I am focused on now is my future in recovery.". You're so right.

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    1. The facebook status made chuckle a little. It is really hard to imagine NOT knowing what it is like to have an eating disorder and putting ourselves in others shoes... I never really thought of it that way. Thanks for giving me a new perspective, Sarah! :)

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  3. Countless times I have heard young girls coming out with 'I need an eating disorder' or 'I want anorexia to lose weight' - swear to goodness it turns my stomach hearing it.

    A lot of times when I hear or read these comments I actually feel triggered as well. But, like artytech I just tell myself 'They don't know, just leave it.'

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    1. Right, Chloe. All we can do is just leave it in those situations. <3

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  4. You are so wise beyond your years ( even though you are a quarter of a century;) ).
    Whether an eating disorder is wanted, or not, if one has any form of an eating disorder, treatment is still available and they are worthy. I like this, a lot actually. For a long time I didn't think I was, some days I still don't think I am, worthy because I "did this to myself" or "I got myself in this situation, so I'm the one who will have to get me out" like you said. I like the way you said this though- an eating disorder is an eating disorder no matter if you wanted it or not.
    Xoxo

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    1. Thanks Kenzie... even if you did kind of call me old. :)

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  5. Hi Kels, it's Linny (I still do not know how to not be "Anonymous.")

    HOW IRONIC. If in fact, all that gentleman does is eat, as he stated, then he may very well have an eating disorder. It's interesting that, when people think of "eating disorders," they usually think of too thin. But what about people who eat out of habit or eat unconsciously? What about someone whose way of coping with insecurities is to eat uncontrollably, rather than increasingly restrict his/her diet? They may feel many of the same emotions of someone who is diagnosed with anorexia: guilt, shame, denial, isolation, self-hate, weight-consciousness, etc.

    And if the person actually voices--even in passing--that he/she "needs an eating disorder," then perhaps they are expressing a need for help. Perhaps their friends and family don't quite understand the overeating habits and/or don't know how best to approach the matter.

    So many similarities...How ironic.

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    1. Ya know Linds, that is actually a really good point and I never really thought of it that way. IRONIC is right. Eating disorders, whether it is anorexia or binge eating, all have the same origin. You are so right when you say that over-eaters use food as a way to cope with whatever uncomfortable emotions they might be having. Food is a drug. But unfortunately for those of us with unhealthy relationships with it, we cannot completely avoid it like other addictions.

      You have my brain churning right now with possible future post topics! :)

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  6. :)

    Rarely, after reading something, do I feel a need to comment on it. But your posts are so real...they hit home for me (and clearly so many others). Well done, Kels. In more ways than one. :) Have a good day, chica. xo

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    1. (That was me, Linny, again.)

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    2. Aw well thanks, Linds! :)

      (I will just assume that the 'Unknown' posts are you from now on. Usually I get anonymous posts but very few unknown. Lucky you! haha)

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