You don’t have to be ‘skinny’ to be suffering from an eating disorder

Weight loss is just a side effect of what happens mentally

Think about a person with an eating disorder. What springs to mind? Is it someone that looks fragile? Someone that looks like the slightest fall could result in a broken wrist or ankle? That’s what I used to think before. Before I realised I was suffering from disordered eating.

Don’t get me wrong, I had lost a lot of weight, but I certainly wasn’t a ‘skin-and-bones’ figure. I just looked normal. In fact, friends and family would compliment me on my weight loss, patting me on the back for my ‘achievement’. They obviously couldn’t see the emotional turmoil below the surface, my constant panic over eating out and the depressive thoughts that plagued me.

You see, the physical changes that happened to my body were only a side effect of what was happening mentally. My bash at ‘clean eating’ swiftly changed into orthorexia, which later  transitioned into bulimia. Another thing to point out is that bulimics don’t have to make themselves throw up in order to still be included under this umbrella term.

Other methods of purging can be water fasting or excessive exercise (which is what I did), and feelings of ‘guilt’ when eating ‘bad’ foods is also a symptom.

I think it’s important to realise, in a world when the media constantly shoves pics of stereotypical ‘victims’ down our throats, that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ type of eating disorder.

Part of the reason I didn’t think I had a problem definitely stems from me not looking like the scary pictures of the women I had seen in magazines. As with other mental and physical illnesses, disordered eating comes in many different shapes and forms, and can affect anyone – regardless of your age, gender or sexuality.

The old saying ‘it’s what’s on the inside that counts’ can be applied to this scenario: just because it’s not reflected in your outer appearance, it doesn’t mean that that you don’t have a problem with food, which is something that both eating disorder sufferers and non-eating disorder sufferers need to comprehend.

Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean that it’s not there.