Why Recovering From Anorexia Isn't As Easy As "Just Eat A Burger"
A lot of people have misconceptions of what it is like to have an eating disorder. An individual is physically, mentally and emotionally scared of food. Each little crumb – bite of food – has a caloric value worth more to them than you can imagine. We don’t see food as something to keep us healthy and alive, we view it as something that slowly kills. Consuming over the amount of food we feel comfortable and safe having, eats away mentally at us. We physically feel it in our bodies – even if it is just an extra piece of an apple or scraping off the little bit of ice cream on top of the lid. We believe that each bite adds weight and fat to our bodies. So much that we limit our intake for the rest of the day and continuously weight ourselves to be sure we didn’t ruin the process of loosing weight.
This brings me to the topic of this post, why “Just Eat” is not anywhere as easy as people without an eating disorder make it out to be. Eating is draining to us; we become overwhelmed with emotions of fear, depression, anger, etc. Physically we feel like crap if we eat more, mentally were holding back a ton of emotions, trying so hard not to lash out and cry in front of others. There have been cases where, personally, I have been at dinner with my family and gotten into a fairly loud argument in front of the entire restaurant. Looking back, it is small things like that, that added to my motivation to recover.
The commonly used, “eat a burger”, has received so much attention and is openly used across all of social media. Obviously eating a burger isn’t going to do much for an individual, but, what people need to realize is that anything they say to you won’t help or cause you to change. It is a ongoing mental game. Those suffering from eating disorders, with regards to restricting food, can compare telling someone to ‘just eat’, to telling someone with a broken foot to ‘just walk’ – it is not that easy.
To sum up this short post, the hardest difficulty for those dealing with loved ones struggling, is to understand and accept that this is not your illness. You cannot fix someone with an eating disorder. An individual must want to attack and overcome this illness on their own. They can be provided with support from family, friends and doctors but it ultimately comes down to the mentality to heal yourself. Many individuals come out of the hospital recovered physically, but emotionally they still are in a bad place, and fall right back into the trap of disordered eating. I am not saying doctors don’t help – they do. They give you a realization into your future (i.e. the ability to have kids, improve relationships with family, avoiding loosing more friends, being able to live in the moment, becoming less obsessive).
In the long run, using force won’t do much for a mental illness. Instead, stand beside them with endless love. During times of temper, tears and fear, be present, comfort and hold them.
An individual never decides to have an eating disorder. But at any time, they can choose to recover.