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How I Am Navigating the Physical Consequences of My Eating Disorder

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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 741741.

I have struggled with body image and eating concerns for the majority of my life. I barely remember a time when I didn’t have problems surrounding my body and food, and I have been clinically diagnosed with multiple eating disorders since 2007. Recently, I was in partial hospitalization for my eating disorders, followed by intensive outpatient and now, outpatient care. I still see my therapist twice a week for my various mental illnesses and I have phone check-ins with her multiple times a week. Throughout my life, I have been in treatment multiple times, but it has only been this recent round of care that I have pledged to take care of my mental and physical health for the first time.

Unfortunately, I am now having to address multiple physical health problems I am experiencing due to years of my eating disorder behaviors — most notably starvation and purging.

Working on addressing my physical health has always been frightening for me, but it has become even more so now.  This is because I am taking charge by advocating for my health to doctors and specialists while openly discussing my eating disorders and behaviors to address the physical health issues I am experiencing. While this does feel empowering in a way, I am also facing fatphobia and body shaming.

During my recent recovery journey, my body has been changing and I find that I am still often uncomfortable with it. I
have worked with a nutritionist and my body has been healing from the starvation and purging that have been a big part of my
eating disorders, and during this process, I have gained weight. While I was in partial hospitalization I worked very hard to fight the negative feelings I have about my body and to at least practice body neutrality, if not body positivity, but as I have begun to focus on my physical health I have found that numerous doctors and specialists have not taken me seriously when I have discussed that I am in recovery from multiple eating disorders because I don’t “look” like someone who has an eating disorder, and their experiences with eating disorders are minimal. Unfortunately, it is because of this that they have chosen to focus on my body size and blame the symptoms I am experiencing on my body weight — despite the fact that I have experienced the same symptoms even when I was thinner.

My body has changed many times throughout my life, and I have always had trouble feeling at home in it. I have been in both a smaller and larger body at many different points in my life, and it has been devastating for me to see how much more care I received when I was thinner compared to where my weight is at right now. Advocating for your physical health is such a huge and crucial step, but it has been increasingly difficult for me to advocate for my health while battling body size bias when I still do not fully accept my body for how it is. I have found that doctors blame my symptoms now on my weight despite the fact that I have struggled with these symptoms at multiple different body sizes. This has been incredibly painful for me because I have felt dismissed, and it has made me feel like giving up with trying to work on my physical health.

However, with the help of my therapist, I have been working on staying strong and continuing to fight for my health. And fortunately, it has begun to pay off.

After emphasizing how difficult my currents symptoms are to manage, I was able to have some testing done, which came back with results that proved my symptoms were real and were not linked to my body weight. Even though I am still having to undergo more tests while managing painful symptoms that affect my day-to-day life, I have found that continuing to persevere has made me feel validated.

During this process, I have convinced myself that my body is worth taking care of, and that it is important that I continue to fight for my health. I respect the opinions of medical professionals and have appreciated their help, but I have also learned that they do not get to dictate how I feel about my body or my conditions. Only I can do that.

If you are also experiencing the daunting task of focusing on your mental and/or physical health and have a history of eating disorders or body shaming in the medical field, I want you to know that you are absolutely worth taking care of and your weight does not determine your worth, or your health. Continue to work to find doctors who will listen to you and respect you. It may not seem like it right now, but they do exist; however, patience is the key. Keep fighting the good fight.

Photo by Alexei Maridashvili on Unsplash

Originally published: September 7, 2021
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