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What I Wish People Knew About Eating Disorders And Mental Health

**Trigger warning, this post contains discussions around Eating disorders and mental health which could be triggering or upsetting** 

Eating disorders are being diagnosed more and more these days, especially in the younger generation. I’ve read about children as young as 8 being body conscious. My daughter, aged 11, included. I honestly think a lot of the issue comes from the influence of social media. 

People don’t really understand how Eating disorders and mental health go hand in hand. There is such a stigma that you have to be anorexic to have one which is far from the truth.

Photo by alan KO on Unsplash

Below, I’m going to share what I wish people knew about eating disorders and mental health as a pair.

I’m not a medical expert, so, if you are struggling then please consult your GP. I am here to share my experiences with my own Eating disorder and mental health journey.

My Own Story With Eating Disorders And Mental Health

I’ve always been a chunky girl. Even at my ‘smallest’ size, I was still chunky. I can remember starting to feel self-conscious about my looks when I started comprehensive school, aged 11. 

At that age, everything is considered ‘puppy fat’. If you ever got told that, then you’ll understand the longing inside wishing to grow up so it would go. I think I was around 12 years old when I started my first diet. Or at least I told myself it was a diet. What did I know? I was only 12!! 

I wouldn’t eat breakfast, dinner at school was something I could pick on like sandwiches and fruit, and, the only full meal I’d eat was at tea time.

By 17 I’d become accustomed to a “cold coffee” as we called it and a bag of shredded lettuce being a go-to meal. At this age, I’d become the smallest I’d ever been. But I just didn’t feel like eating a lot. 

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Fast forward to age 29, I’m heavier, definitely more chunky, and guess what?? I still have an awful relationship with food!! I can go most of the day and forget to eat something. Not because I’m trying to lose weight or watching what I eat, I just don’t want anything. Yes, it would be great to be slimmer, but I don’t purposely starve myself to be thin. A Lot of my problem also stems from having a Functional Gut Disorder, so I often don’t want to eat when that’s at its worst. 

I’m not anorexic or bulimic, but I still have an Eating disorder and, here’s why you’re getting it all wrong. 

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Eating disorder assumptions you got wrong

You don’t have to be anorexic to have an Eating disorder 

This is ultimately a mistaken assumption around Eating disorders!! There are thousands of people around the world that are far from anorexic, myself included, and still have an Eating disorder. 

Granted, anorexia is a huge part of an Eating disorder for many along with other symptoms. But everything is always based on the assumption that an Eating disorder stems from people wanting to be skinny. 

Having an Eating disorder doesn’t mean that a person will make themselves sick. Another assumption that frustrates me. There is a separate disorder such as bulimia in which the person will make themselves sick after eating to not store the calories etc. But you can have issues with food without being bulimic. Granted that some people have more than one form of an eating disorder, but this doesn’t include everyone. 

There is more than one single Eating Disorder 

A lot of people think there is only 1 Eating disorder when in fact there are several.
Such as – 

  • Bulimia 
  • Anorexia 
  • Binge Eating 
  • Sever fasting 
  • AFRID 
  • Over Eating 

All of which are just as serious as each other. 

“If you have an Eating disorder it means you want to just be skinny”

Again, wrong!! A lot of people around the world are actually happy and love their bodies no matter what size they are. Others, like myself, have health issues where they either don’t get hungry so just don’t eat,  which leads to a huge lack of calorie intake, or, are always hungry due to medication so intake too many calories. Both of which can not be helped!! But some of us accept our health causes this problem so being overweight/underweight is part of the parcel. 

Having an Eating disorder is a choice 

I can not stress enough how wrong this is. This is not a choice. It may start as a choice for some but, it will soon become uncontrollable and, will be an impulse that is a part of your everyday life. Others, like myself, often don’t even realize that they have one. 

Some people even subconsciously incorporate an Eating disorder into their lives because they struggle with Body Dysmorphia and can’t accept how they look which just goes to show how eating disorders and mental health issues go hand in hand. You can read about my ongoing journey with Body Confidence here

People often unknowingly start having an unhealthy relationship with food as a child and their parents never correct it or find the cause of it. More often than not, parents/family members don’t even realize their child has an eating disorder. So as the child grows into an adult, they think that feeling down/sad means eating something nice to cheer them up. It’s the only coping mechanism they know. 

Conclusion 

After reading this post I would love if you could comment on anything you may have learned or if you can relate to any of the issues I’ve talked about. Eating disorders are very real and, as much as people don’t like to think about it, they can kill. 

Please think before you comment on how little the “skinny” girl in the corner is eating, that bit of lettuce could be the first thing she’s eaten for 2 days. Or the “chunky” kid stuffing her face with chocolate again, she could be feeding her feelings after yet another night of abuse. 

You never really know what is going on in a person’s life just from looking at them. A little comment or snigger to you could be just the thing to push someone over the edge. So please be kind and considerate. 

Thanks for taking the time to read through!! 

Much Love – Rhiannon xx

You May Also Be Interested In Reading –

Chronic Fatigue
Managing Pain Without Meds
The Physical Side Of Mental Health
I’m Not Ignorant I Have Anxiety
Dear Teacher
Helping A Child With Anxiety/Depression
What Is E.D.D

3 thoughts on “Eating Disorders And Mental Health”

  1. Thank you for sharing this — it’s easy to think we understand eating disorders and what that really looks like if we’ve not gone through it ourselves. By not understanding that it exists in other ways we potentially miss opportunities to better support people. I appreciate you sharing your own experiences and taking the time to educate about this.

  2. Thank you for sharing this honest post.

    I think there is a lot of misunderstanding around eating disorders and its people with experience who can teach others what it’s actually like to experience this. This post will help others.

    I feel the same about mental illness. Whilst I know nobody can really, truly, know how I feel, I still think it would be great if people were aware of the types of mental illness and some of the experiences people have had.

    Education is the key to understanding.

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