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What it's like to live with an eating disorder from my perspective

“Just eat”, “don’t eat”, “you don’t look like you have an eating disorder”, “you look fine”, “a choice” are all comments often passed by others who don’t understand the illness. But what is it actually like to live with an eating disorder?

To be defined by a number on the scale. Whether it is up, down or the same will determine what you can/can’t do that day and how you will feel about yourself. To never be good enough, a failure, to not be happy in yourself, to want to be loved but unable to accept it, fear of rejection, to allow food to rule your life … things that happen every day for me. And I can tell you it is certainly not a choice! I have no control over these feelings and what I do and do not eat – my ED is too powerful!

It is a constant daily battle, to fight the war and voice in your head. To just be good enough for once, to have a ‘normal’ day … to feel okay – these are all hopes you have. You see people doing things and just wish it could be you, you wish you could change how you feel but it is always in control. It doesn’t want you to tell anyone, you are scared of what people might think, embarrassed, you know people won’t understand (I get that, and that’s okay, as I am only starting to understand ten years on), people will dismiss it as pathetic … when really it effects pretty much every aspect of your life.

Waking up on your birthday and crying because the number on the scale has gone up, not waiting to go out to eat and celebrate, failing because you have given in and eaten. It is what seems an everlasting destructive, vicious circle of self-hate.

On a bad day, someone talking about a diet or how much weight they have lost, or someone saying you look well, can completely push you over the edge.

This year has tested me to my max. I set myself the challenge of trying to recover. So far it has been the hardest thing I have ever had to do and I am not much further on than I was at the start of the year. But my desire to gain a much healthier relationship with food, my body and myself is so strong it keeps putting me back on the ‘road to recovery’, even if it is at the start again. I want to be able to go out for meals, to not have a number define my worth and day, to not cry over eating a packet of biscuits, to not hate the way I look in every photo (and that is the first thing I always look at), to be able to have a relationship, to not turn to food for comfort … and, most of all, to feel good enough and gain some self-belief back.

I want to share this to help raise some understanding of what it is like to live with an eating disorder, how hard things can be and how the simplest of things that people who have a healthy relationship with food take for granted and don’t think twice about can be so incredibly difficult, sometimes impossible for those who struggle with an ED.

My journey - a six-year battle with anorexia and 4 months hospitalisation followed by a continuing four-year battle with BED.

Keep fighting!!!! <3 <3 <3

Contributed by Emma

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