So, what can YOU do if you know someone has an eating disorder? How can you help? Unfortunately, there is no right answer to that question, but there are several different options you can try. Now, please remember that I am not a professional psychologist – these recommendations are based off others’ research and my personal experience.
Honestly I’m not sure about all of those do nots… My roommates called me out in public. They would try to embarrass me about what I was doing because they knew that I knew, that what I was doing was wrong. We can’t always sugar coat everything and I think the right answer is different for everyone… But because of where I was at in my eating disorder, my roommates trying to help me just made me push them away further. I got better at hiding the purging. You could be in the bathroom stall next to me and not hear me throwing up…
I turned on my best friends, when all they were doing was trying to help me. I put more distance between myself and the people who knew about my eating disorder because I didn’t want MORE people to know. Eating disorders are as much of an addiction as smoking, or caffeine, or gambling. It’s something you have to do. Honestly, sometimes it’s still hard for me to not purge – eating disorders are a lifelong battle..
When you eat too much or when I know I just ate WAY too many calories. It is hard as hell to not fall back into old habits. To this day, I will not get a dessert if I’m the only one eating it, because I know it would be too tempting for my body to throw it all up afterwards. To this day, when I start getting OD in the gym or focused on losing weight, my mom asks me if I’m doing it the “right” way.
There are mountains of statistics on eating disorders and what they do to individuals who have these problems – and it IS a problem. But eating disorders are a problem that abusers won’t admit, and non-abusers don’t want to know about. We can’t keep ignoring these disorders. We idealize weight loss, but don’t care to know if she did it using diuretics. We constantly tell girls, and women, that are too thin that they look great. We are creating a never-ending cycle, and we are all doing it to each other.
In my Uncomfortable: The Other Kind of ED blog, I told you that I studied what eating disorders can do to your body, and yet I still developed one. Let’s discuss some consequences, shall we?? They ain’t pretty folks…
Anorexia consequences include but are not limited to: reduction of bone density, muscle loss and weakness, growth of a downy layer of hair to keep the body warm, as well as an abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure.
Bulimia consequences include but are not limited to: peptic ulcers and pancreatitis, inflammation and possible rupture of the esophagus, and electrolyte imbalances, caused by dehydration, that can lead to irregular heartbeats, heart failure, and possibly death.
IT IS NOT WORTH IT. I know for people who have eating disorders it may seem like it is, but you are destroying your body.
What to look out for (Bulimia Nervosa):
What to look out for (Anorexia Nevosa):
Please, if you see the signs of an eating disorder say something to the person. Say something to someone. You never know if you’re the last drop in the bucket for them to finally get the help, and treatment they need.
Eating disorders are not a comfortable topic to discuss – on either end. But is being comfortable and staying silent, worth risking someone’s life?? Think about that for a minute.
It truly pains me now, to think how helpless the people around me felt – because they couldn’t help, because I wouldn’t allow them too. I can only imagine how angry my roommates must’ve been. It hurts to know I put people I loved in that kind of situation. A situation with no right answer. A situation where I lied and covered up so many different things to hide my eating disorder. Not only do ED’s hurt the individual(s) with them – but they hurt the people surrounding the individual with the disorder, as well.
Let’s get uncomfortable and discuss what we can do to change the shame surround eating disorders.
Let’s get REAL and get to the root of the problem.
If you need help – GET IT!
- Toll free, confidential Helpline at 1-800-931-2237
- For crisis situations, text “NEDA” to 741741 to be connected with a trained volunteer at Crisis Text Line
Bunch, MD T. Jared. “When the Heart Fails: Anorexia’s Hidden Toll.” Rhythm of Life. N.p., 21 Mar. 2014. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.
Jacobi, C., Hayward, C., de Zwaan, M., Kraemer, H. & Agras, W.S. (2004). Coming to terms with risk factors for eating disorders: Application of risk terminology and suggestions for a general taxonomy. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 1, 19-65.
Mayo Clinic Staff Print. “Anorexia Nervosa.” Symptoms and Causes – Anorexia Nervosa – Mayo Clinic. N.p., 28 Jan. 2016. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.
Tracy, Natasha. “Types of Eating Disorders: List of Eating Disorders.” HealthyPlace. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.
“About Anorexia: Signs, Symptoms, Causes & Articles For Treatment Help.” Eating Disorder Hope. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.
“About Bulimia: Symptoms, Signs, Causes & Articles For Treatment Help.” Eating Disorder Hope. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.
“Types & Symptoms of Eating Disorders | National Eating Disorders Association.” Types & Symptoms of Eating Disorders | National Eating Disorders Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2017.