People Question My Diagnosis Because I Don't Look How a Person With Anorexia 'Should'


Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.

Last month, I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital where I was diagnosed with anorexia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Now PTSD was no surprise, as I’ve struggled with it for several years. Anorexia however, caught me off guard.

How could it be a surprise? I never considered myself “sick enough” for an actual diagnosis. I’ve had problems with body image, self esteem, restricting, bingeing, purging and occasional compulsive over-exercising, sure. But it never seemed that serious to me. That is, until I was sat down and told, “they’ve diagnosed you with anorexia.”

Afterwards, I shared with one of the other patients about my diagnosis. Her response was “no you’re not. I’ve seen you eat before.” She meant to comfort me by telling me they were wrong and show me proof of why I couldn’t be anorexic. I know she meant no harm. Anorexia is terrifying. She was trying to help ease my anxiety.

Others though, respond in confusion by saying, “but I’ve seen you eat” or by looking at my body with disbelief.

But what they don’t see is how hard it is for me to eat breakfast in the morning because eating feels like giving up. They don’t see the anxious, terrified thoughts screaming at me to stop eating because I fear anything I eat will make me fatter. They don’t see me bingeing after not eating and then hating myself for it. They don’t see me purging in the bathroom at work, at home or in restaurants. They can’t see that being pale, shaking and about to pass out is easier for me than eating at times. They don’t see me standing in front of the mirror pinching, squeezing and scratching as I try to claw the excess fat from my sides. They didn’t see me when I would weigh myself to decide if I got to eat that day or not.

You may have seen me eat. You can see I am overweight. But what you don’t see is the battle between my disorder and my recovery. Please try to understand. I may not look “dangerously thin,” — I may not even look sick to you — but I am struggling.

MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.

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.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via sSplajn.

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Anorexia Nervosa

Side of woman's face illustration

4 Ways I Deal With Food Sensitivities as Someone in Eating Disorder Recovery

Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741. I’ve been in recovery from an eating disorder for five years now and from my experience, the first months and years are the hardest. It is difficult [...]
Watercolor fashion girl with sunglasses

Learning to Love My 'Recovery Body' in Anorexia Recovery

Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741. I recently passed my year mark of getting admitted to treatment for the last time and accepting my new body is probably the hardest part about recovery. [...]
A woman standing next to a sign that says love

A Day in the Life From Inpatient Treatment for Anorexia

Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741. When I was first told I would be an inpatient, I was tangled in a web of anxieties. I am a woman who likes a sense of certainty. [...]
tissue box with two used tissues beside it

What Getting a Cold Meant to Me in Eating Disorder Recovery

I’m experiencing this weird phenomenon now. I’m not sure many other people can relate. It all started after I recently got “sick” with a cold for the first time in years. I was recently discharged from a lengthy residential stay for the treatment of anorexia nervosa, a relentless demon I have been fighting for the [...]