Eating Disorders Have Nothing to Do With 'Dedication'

In high school, I wrote my college application essay on my eating disorder. It took many drafts and shallow attempts at other topics to bring me to write about it. My English teacher coaxed the story out of me and comforted me when its contents left me collapsed in tears outside of her classroom.

In my original essay, I’d tried to cloak the topic, writing about something completely different and tossing in a mention of my eating disorder at the end. My teacher encouraged me that I was ready to share what I was going through, and I began drafting a version which spoke solely of my battle with my eating disorder.

Once I finished, I knew this would be my final rewrite. I was proud of my work.

Not too long after, an acquaintance showed me his essay and asked to see mine. I hesitated but granted him access to a dark part of myself I hadn’t previously allowed any to see.

After reading my essay, he looked up at me and said, “Wow. I wish I had that kind of dedication.”

I felt crushed. Did he think this was a choice? Did he think I could stop this at any given moment — that this life of suffering and torture was one I’d asked for?

It really gave me a perspective on just how skewed people’s views on mental illness and on eating disorders in particular are. They only see what is presented by the media, and facts become irrelevant.

Let me assure you: the only thing involving dedication with eating disorders is the dedication and extensive effort put forwards to recover.

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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Thinkstock photo by SKunevski

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