Am I 'Sick Enough' to Get Help for My Eating Disorder?

“You don’t look like you have an eating disorder.”

I felt a surge of shame run through my body. Shame for asking for help. Shame at the thought of suggesting to someone that my body looked a certain way. What she really did was look me up and down and say, “I see you eat all the time.” But from my long past with this “ED” character, I knew exactly what that meant.

And I almost believed it. I almost believed this message we receive that you cannot ask for help until you’re “sick enough.” Instead of listening to my gut instinct telling me, “Hey, these urges and thoughts are getting to be a little much. It’s time to reach out for back-up,” I almost chose the sharp voice that said, “See, this is normal. You don’t have a problem. What a joke. Look at you.”

I’ve been down this path before, and it took so many things from me. My eating disorder took time and relationships and teeth and joints and running and sports. It drained the color from my world and blocked out connection and love from other people. In hindsight, the path I was headed down was painfully obvious, but I had to get to the point of so much loss before I started to get better.

It doesn’t have to be this way. It doesn’t make sense that we wait until people are at their worst point to get help. It doesn’t make sense that we wait until people are at their worst point to believe them when they ask for help.

We know the earlier we offer people support the better. Whether it’s an eating disorder or depression or anxiety or anything, we need to stop telling people they must be something “enough” before we will help them. You do not have to pass a threshold to be worthy of support and love and services that might help you.

If someone says they are struggling and want support, believe them. If you are struggling and want support, please do not wait to reach out. You do not have to look or feel or think “enough” of something to be having a valid experience. The earlier we act, the better.

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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