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Eating disorders: When the need for control controls you

You’ve probably heard the stereotypes about people with eating disorders before, about how they eat, what they weigh, and how they act.

However, often these stereotypes are completely incorrect. Every single person who has an eating disorder is affected by it in a different way – and the fact that people genuinely believe stereotypes about these hugely stigmatised illnesses is what leads people to not get the help they deserve.

Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes, and many people genuinely enjoy food. But they’re controlled by an illness that prevents them from being able to have freedom around food, stealing their identity so that food is the main focus in their life.

Many people don’t get the help they need because of the perceptions people have of what makes them “ill” enough – but there is no criteria needed for someone to recover. You are “sick enough” the moment it begins controlling your actions. From that stage onwards it just steals more of your sense of self, controlling more of your identity and life as you begin to listen to it more and try to validate that voice.

You begin to compete with yourself more to please an eating disorder – which is just some disordered thoughts in your head. People tend to base their self-worth on just their body. But every single person in the world is worth so much more than what they look like. Everyone has a life, a personality, and all that can be overshadowed by a desire to please a disordered voice. But you’re not any less valid for not giving in to eating disorder thoughts. It takes real strength to counter an eating disorder.

Eating disorders tend to target people with low self-esteem, and it may give them a sense of control as they know that this is something that they can do. But it’s a false sense of security: the more you give in, the more you lose, and although you may want to be in this “bubble” of losing yourself, you were not put on this earth to just shrink away.

There is so much you can achieve in the world. So many memories waiting to be made. If you are suffering, you don’t need to prove yourself to anyone – especially yourself. You are sick enough and you are needed in the world as yourself. You have so many things to contribute, and getting to a certain weight or restricting your food intake is not one of them. Instead of listening to your head and falling into behaviours that lead to terrible consequences in the future, you deserve to find hobbies you enjoy, or an activity that truly gives you a sense of purpose. Because although you may think that having an eating disorder is just something you have great control over, it becomes the one controlling you. And you really don’t deserve to live a life controlled. A life where you can’t experience what life truly has to offer. Working hard and trying to achieve your goals in life truly will be worth it, I promise you.

Contributed by Adele