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13 Comments About Anorexia That Have Been Unhelpful to My Recovery

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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.

You assume my eating disorder is all about weight, size and numbers — and nothing else. If my eating disorder was about my weight and size and the mirror and my image, wouldn’t I be out with friends? Wouldn’t I be better by now? Wouldn’t I be satisfied with all of it by now? It’s more than any of those things. The pain is deeper than any starving day could take away.

Here are a list of things I was told after I confessed I struggle with anorexia that have been unhelpful for my recovery:

1. “She can’t have anorexia. She looks perfect.”

2. “It’s just a phase.”

3. “Alyssa stop trying to get attention!” I wasn’t trying to get attention, I was trying to make myself invisible. When I was in school, the invisible didn’t get attention.

4. “Here Alyssa, try this dress on.” Even though I hated it and I hated my body. “You are going to wear this one because I’m paying for it.” Because not only did that dress contain a price tag, but so did I.

5. “Just keep starving yourself. Keep throwing up. I don’t care.”

6. Each day when you try on an outfit, I hear comments like, “I look so fat and disgusting.” While I’m in my room trying to change multiple different tops and bottoms because there’s not enough loose fabric.

7. “Look at you in this photo. You look too thin. Can you crop out your legs because they’re too tiny?”

8. I come home and nobody speaks about anything ever again. I hear silence.

9. “After all we’ve done for you!…”

10. Let me tell you about how your anorexia is all about me and not the fact that it’s a disease — or that it has anything to do with you.

11. “Alyssa, I know your eating disorder crap is back. You better not be thinking bad thoughts about weight and stuff.” And in the same day, “You can go to the gym and then you’ll stop hating yourself,” or, “Skinny doesn’t run in our genes.”

12. “You’re getting awfully skinny again. I wish I was skinny.”

13. “Alyssa, you see yourself as the girl with anorexia, not as just a human.” But, “If you eat, you must not be anorexic.”

Each time I’ve gone to treatment has been in the hopes that others will change, not just myself. I can’t control or change other people, only myself. This is my battle. This is my recovery. The list above goes on and on. It’s so long that you might want to stop reading, because who knew that words that seem like just sentences could pierce and fill a hole in your being with such hatred.

These words became a frame in every photo, every half-eaten bowl of oatmeal, every smile, every self-destructive behavior, every whisper and every therapy session. They became the blood in my veins, the flutter in my stomach, the stinging in my throat, the burning in my eyes and the crevices of my palms.

People often see my anorexia as a fragile soul instead of fragile bones. As empty instead of full of pain, suffering, shame, guilt, hate, fear and death. As crop tops and high waisted shorts instead of blankets covering every part of me because I don’t care to move. As beautiful, when every tooth I own is either broken or rotted. As organized, when so far, all I’ve organized is the box of granola bars I’ll probably never eat.

This is my battle. This is my recovery. This is not about anyone but me, regardless of the things that were said to me. They may have been awful and painful, but only I can mend the hole.

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 yngsa

Originally published: July 18, 2017
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