Let's Talk Eating Disorders (16)
The topic of eating disorders is something I feel is mainly only spoken about at a surface level. Little is discussed about triggers and how far they can extend, the different types of eating disorders, and their overall nature. I will say eating disorders are something that are personal to me, so if anyone ever feels like they want to open up to someone, I'm always available to listen with absolutely no judgement.
Unfortunately, like all other mental illnesses, the stigma/stereotype around eating disorders is very harmful. In my opinion, one of the biggest issues is the invalidation that surrounds certain disorders. The awareness on eating disorders stops at the disorders that don't necessarily fit society's view of what is considered to be "valid". Too often, I've seen an immense lack of support directed to every other eating disorder that doesn't fit the narrative of what society expects, such as binge eating disorders (reoccuring episodes of over eating/binging), orthorexia (abnormal fixation/obsession with only eating healthy foods to the point where it consumes the lives of those suffering), compulsive eating disorders (uncontrolled compulsion to overeat large amounts of food even when not hungry), etc. If there is a specific eating disorder you would like me to make posts in order to raise awareness of, please leave suggestions down below. Sadly, eating disorders are often judged by mere appearance, which usually means that people who don't "look like" they have an eating disorder (ED) don't get the help they need, and can even have their struggles invalidated. To be straight forward, just because someone is not purging, starving themselves, over exercising, don't "look underweight", etc., it's important to be compassionate and understand that any unhealthy relationship with food is valid and needs awareness. Mindset is a huge part of eating disorders.
With the lack of education that many have in regards to eating disorders comes with unintended triggers, which can be particularly challenging for those struggling and even lead to relapse. Triggers are defined as a circumstance that can cause moments of emotional trauma, and a part of every mental illness. Those associated with eating disorders are just as broad--people can be triggered by anything based on their experience. This is why it's unexpected for people to be aware of all triggers, especially because triggers are different for everyone. I feel that the main concepts to understand are the importance of avoiding discussion of anyone's body, even your own. This includes body checking, displaying height and weight/measurements (many who struggle have a certain "goal weight" for their height to look a certain way), and talking about your eating and exercising habits, especially if they are unhealthy (such as how often you eat/exercise in a day). I know this can seem like a lot to ask people to avoid speaking about; even I used to struggle with understanding how topics of conversation or what seem to be simple actions can be triggering. This leads me to the discussion of the competitive nature of eating disorders.
Often, the deeper one falls into an eating disorder, the stronger the sense of competitiveness grows within them in regards to others, especially among others struggling. In many cases, eating disorders are rooted in perfectionism (which is why victims don't just stop after reaching what is considered to be a "goal weight"), which ultimately leads to the unconscious comparison of the appearances of different bodies. Many different eating disorders are also rooted in the act of strict discipline of following whatever regimen the victim has deemed to be the only acceptable way of living, so unfortunately, those struggling often feel the need to be the "sickest", because they believe it correlates to being the best. Again, eating disorders are rooted in mindset, and by now we all know how complex the mind is. Thus, to avoid triggering anyone struggling or causing someone to fall down the hole of eating disorders, simply don't comment on people's bodies, no matter what your intention is! We're more important than the appearance of our bodies anyways, and at the end of the day, all we should aim for is happiness and health.
If you are struggling, please know that no matter what, your struggles are valid and no matter what, recovery is always worth it. For everyone reading this, check on your loved ones, because many victims fight their battles silently out of the vulnerability of having an ED. Again, being educated on eating disorders is so important, so if anyone has any questions, please ask me down below, or I encourage you to look further into this topic on your own!
If you're struggling or think you may need help, please don't hesitate to get help in any way you can when you feel ready. Again, my email is always open, and I will be leaving the Eating Disorder Hotline down below.
Eating Disorder Hotline: 1-800-931-2237