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'Society' Didn't Cause My Eating Disorder, but It Didn't Help

I cannot speak for anyone but myself when I describe what it’s like to be a girl with an eating disorder. I guess I actually mean “what it’s like to be me (with an eating disorder).” Society seems to have a strong habit of blaming the disorder of eating on models, body-shaming and celebrities. While all of these things can play some part in it, I can personally say society is the least of my worries when it comes to my disorder.

Does it help to see an obvious size six be considered a “plus size model?” No, it does not. However, this surely does not throw me over the edge.

I do not drastically deny myself calories and exercise to the point of exhaustion, lightheadedness and physical pain so I can have the physique of Adriana Lima. For some, that is the case. You become so tired of not being the right amount (or lack thereof) of woman, that starvation and over-exhaustion seem like the best (and quickest) response. When it comes down to it, you don’t care about the consequences.

While all of this is true and being complimented for weight loss and the triumph of going down a few jean sizes does feel great, my eating disorder is far more complicated. Sometimes, I wish it was only what meets the magazines, the tabloids and the television screens. I feel my personal recovery would be much easier if this was the case. I wish my expectation of myself was able to change as quickly as the trends in society. The fact of the matter is, it is not and it never will be.

My eating disorder is, for the lack of a better word, a safety net. A very, very, dangerous “safety net.” Life happens. Finances suck. People screw you over. Anxiety hits you like a freight train, and depression takes it upon itself to have a staycation in your home.

The one thing that makes it all seem a little less hectic, if even only for a moment, is my eating disorder. When the world itself seems to be everything but copacetic, my eating disorder gives me control or makes me feel that I have it, at least.

I can’t control the people in my life. I cannot control my current salary. I can’t control the fact that some people clearly do not give a shit about anyone or anything but themselves, but I can control the amount of calories I eat. I can control the amount of miles I force upon myself (even if I happen to faint in the process).

My eating disorder allows me to avoid feeling things I wish so badly to avoid. Not making enough money? Starve. Get screwed over? Starve. Fifth car accident in the last three years? Starve. Sad for no good reason at all? Starve. Scale didn’t show the weight I expected after starving? Starve some more.

Friends, family and doctors, ask me why I do the things I do, and why I have done the things I have done, when each time it lands me in some sort of treatment. It would be much easier to blame my eating disorder on society. It wasn’t until recently that I even had even the slightest idea why I do and have done these things — to control things when everything seems to be falling apart. In reality, I am letting go of every bit of control I had in the first place.

My eating disorder is a seesaw, one end being recovery and the other being relapse. While I spend most days running from one end to the other, I currently reside somewhere in between. I will spend the rest of my life trying to find ways to handle life. Yet, this is better than cutting it short because my body finally gave the last little bit of control it had to the beast I call my safety net.

 If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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