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

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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.

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 via sSplajn.

Originally published: February 21, 2017
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