I have had a hard few weeks. For reasons both under and outside of my control, September knocked the wind out of me. There were days where all I wanted to do was stay in my room, ignore my responsibilities, and shut out the world. There were days when I did.
As you all know, I am no stranger to sadness. Though I am grateful for the many, many times in which my life has come up roses, there have been hard times, too. There have been times when I wanted to throw in the towel and quit. There have been times when, dealing with disordered eating, bodily injury, or family issues, I asked God how, and why.
How is this fair? Why does this happen? Why is it all so difficult?
As I’ve shared here before, I lived with the eating disorder EDNOS for three years in high school. As a part of my recovery process, I saw a therapist for most of my senior year and part of my gap year. Therapy was an incredibly healing and helpful process for me; it helped me come to terms with my struggles and learn to treat myself well again. At the same time, it was also very difficult, especially because of the stigma attached to counseling and because I didn’t know what to expect.
This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.
Those of you who know me well, or have been reading this blog for a while, know that I had EDNOS in high school. EDNOS, or Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (sometimes called OSFED, for Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder), and is a blanket term for disordered eating that does not meet all the requirements of anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder. That does not make it any less serious, or any less severe, than eating disorders that are mentioned more often.
- 60% of adults with eating disorders have EDNOS. (source)
- The mortality rate of EDNOS is 5.2%. (source)
- The risks of EDNOS include kidney failure, osteoporosis, and chance of infertility. (source)
I lived with EDNOS for about three years in high school, and I have been in recovery for four and half years. If you’d like to read more about my experiences, you can do so here, here, and here. Because I’ve shared my story already, I wanted today’s post to be something different. After thinking about it for a while, I decide to write about how to help a friend with an eating disorder.
I’ve had a few good moments with blogging. The first time someone shared my blog on Facebook was pretty cool. The first time I got more than 1,000 blog hits in a week was really exciting. But the best blogging moment I’ve ever had was after I wrote Breadth: Thoughts on Being Big, about my eating disorder and recovery. I got a message on Facebook from someone else in recovery, saying that my post encouraged her to start counseling after she had been avoiding it for months. That was an honor I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
Her words come back to me every once in a while. I remember what it was like to fear therapy so much that I would do almost anything to avoid it. When people talk about recovery, they never talk about how hard it is. Eating disorder narratives make it sound like this: you realized you had a problem, you started therapy, and then everything was fine. They don’t mention how harrowing, and discouraging, and sometimes impossible it feels; especially when you’re not even sure you want to get better. When life with an eating disorder is all you’ve known for the last few years, it becomes comforting. It can give you a feeling of power and safety, even when, in reality, you’re out of control.
I have good days and bad days. There are days when I get up, look in the mirror, and think, “wow, I am so lucky to be alive.” And then there are days where I look in the mirror and think, “Yuck. I am…”
Not pretty enough.
Not wealthy enough.
Not well-dressed enough.
Not smart enough.
Not successful enough.
Not good enough.