Eating disorders are not beautiful, fragile rays of sunshine floating inside you as you weightlessly take each step, delicately refusing food with a tinkle of laughter, effortlessly avoiding thoughts of calories whilst engaging in a conversation with a friend over a cup of green tea, cigarette in hand, tendrils of smoke drifting above your head, dazzling everyone with your frailty, proudly showing off your bones with a smile on your face.
No, eating disorders are fingers dancing nervously across collarbones and dark circles under your eyelids. Eating disorders are waking up and realising they you have been feeling your hipbones in your sleep. They are the constant and never-ending thoughts of food, weight, exercise, and calories. They are the persistent temptations that you have to work at every second not to give in to. They are insomnia, or sleep plagued with nightmares about binging, anxiety about food, or dreams of being as thin as you wish to be. They are waking up and finding that you are not. They are tidal waves of self-deprecating insults. They are emotional, verbal, and physical abuse, by yourself to yourself. They are bruises appearing with every slight knock. They are glassy-eyed walks to the cupboards, stuffing yourself full with everything that you can find. They are the returning soul, suddenly realising how much you have eaten. They are being bent over the toilet, fingers down throat, spewing vomit into water that gets splashed back into your own face. They are chest pains. They are a raw, burning throat. They are burst blood vessels, and streaming eyes. They are shaking legs. They are having part of you taken away bit by bit until you can enjoy nothing, until there is nothing left to you but numbers and darkness and misery. They are obsession. They are having your relationships destroyed because you are a walking eating disorder who can no longer enjoy or engage in anything else because your mind is too consumed by thoughts to do with food. They are not being able to focus on a conversation because you are either too hungry or you are looking at how your legs look when you are sat down, when they are crossed, when they are apart. They are the development of dissociation, anxiety, obsessive and compulsive tendencies, and depression in one go. They are viewing yourself as fat in every item of clothing that you own. They are daily routines that you cannot and will not change. They are weighing yourself at least every morning and having your mood depend on the number shown. They are weighing out every item of food that you eat so you know the exact calorie content. They are tears and razorblades and despair.
Eating disorders are the idea that you will be able to stop and be happy when you are thin. They are never seeing yourself as that thin even when you are. They are never, ever, being thin enough. They are the wanting to be happy but having the manipulative “Voice” tell you that recovery would mean “getting fat” and being more miserable. They are the not wanting to die but finding it unbearable to live. They are utter hopelessness and self-loathing when you fail at keeping within your calorie limit- and believe me, you will fail, many times over. They are the endless self-punishments. They are dizziness and nausea. They are fainting and falling. They are living like a zombie: barely getting through each day just so you can go back to bed and attempt to sleep again. They are the feeling of worthlessness, and hate, and anger, and misery. They are the fear of each coming day, and of each coming night. They are the looking in the mirror and only seeing a huge, hideous, disgusting, repulsive, large mound of fat – even when bones jut from every part of your body.
Eating disorders are having your hair thin and maybe even fall out in clumps into the shower or when you brush your hair. They can be lanugo; fine, downy hair that covers emaciated bodies in an attempt to keep them warm. They can be heart murmers, or muscle atrophy, tearing of the oesophagus, gastric rupture, reflux, fatigue, low blood pressure, anaemia, kidney infection or even failure, amenorrhoea (loss of periods), gum disease, tooth decay, infertility, constipation, diarrhoea, seizures, malnutrition, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, impaired neuromuscular function, paralysis, and even death – those aren’t even all the risks.
So if you don’t have an eating disorder and you have looked at someone who does and envied them, I hope this has changed your perspective. Eating disorders are not a choice or a lifestyle; they are life-destroying diseases.
However, recovery is possible. It is possible to overcome all of this and reclaim yourself and your life back. If you are suffering from an eating disorder, please seek help. You need and deserve to recover. You are stronger than you know, and you can beat your demons.