On the topic of eating disorders

Honestly, sometimes I think I write more interesting blog posts when I stop trying to filter.

So what do I have to say?

I'm sick of the way eating disorders are portrayed. OhGodsotragic, how sad, that beautiful wasted face, "She got down to __ lbs before being hospitalized," so extreme and troubled, starving and coughing up blood alone and it's just something I'll have to fight for the rest of my life and never quite get over.

I don't mean to say that pieces of that are never true, but to generalize all of them into this extreme, tragic, scared-straight sort of story is not okay. You can read that sort of thing in novels and even memoirs, but no mental illness transforms you into a tragic heroine, and I daresay the real experience of an eating disorder is not like that for the vast majority of sufferers, not at all.

The reality is more mundane, common and pointless. It's losing dimensions of yourself so that you can't be bothered about animal rights or poetry or intense late-night storytelling with your best friends anymore. It's calling in sick to work just because you are are too insecure to leave the dorm that day. It's stupid things like spending your last three days in Iceland (Iceland!) on the computer because you too busy dieting to suck the marrow out.

No matter what sort of power it might feel like it confers, an eating disorder doesn't take you into some extreme, tragic/scary parallel universe. It just makes your life small and pointless. It worries your mind with stupid things, makes you tired and apathetic. It takes away your courage and strength and creativity and love, keeps you from living beautifully and being remarkable and making the earth shake.

An eating disorder can be physically dangerous, true, but I would venture a guess that for most struggling with one (and I am thinking of how a majority will never be underweight or ill enough to be hospitalized), the main cost is not to their health, but to their lives.

Seriously. Being really alive and having an eating disorder are mutually exclusive.

I recovered from an "official" eating disorder and I know a fair number of people who had or have had significant eating issues. That's all I'm going on. Disregard if you choose.

P.S. Even if you aren't diagnosably disordered, don't think you are immune. I am pretty freaking sure you can still sacrifice your best self to worries about food and weight.


Poppy 9/13/2009 12:12 AM  

From experience, you speak such truth. I spent almost as much time feeling guilty that I "thought" I was sick when I wasn't sick enough to be hospitalised, as I did actually being sick. So much time wasted.

gabi dickinson 9/13/2009 3:36 AM  

This is beautiful, and was my experience too. And I may send this to my friend''Even if you aren't diagnosably disordered, don't think you are immune. I am pretty freaking sure you can still sacrifice your best self to worries about food and weight.'' She is currently struggling with an ED but refuses to face the reality of her life, because she hasn't had an official diagnosis. Sigh.

Sonia. 9/13/2009 3:47 AM  

Very well written and very true.

Q 9/13/2009 7:10 AM  


cuileann 9/13/2009 1:38 PM  

Poppy - Yes, I know exactly what you mean. I felt guilty and fake. Having failed to live up to popular portrayals, it was as if I'd failed even at being eating disordered.

Gabi - Ai. That is a rough place to be, and a rough place to see a loved one stuck. *hugs*

Elise 9/13/2009 1:45 PM  

Hello, I just had to leave you a note because I've so enjoyed reading your posts today. You have the most gorgeously beautiful site - best wishes & thank you ..

Ashley 9/13/2009 3:46 PM  

My eating was very disordered for a while in college. It made me feel terrible physically and it was once experience where I dizzy and unable to get out of bed for 2 days that made me realize I had to make a change. I wasn't going to give up school and all the things that were important to me for the sake of being thin. Things did not get easier right away, but I'm continually amazed at how healthy my thinking is now. In those times, I never could have thought I'd have even a reasonably healthy attitude toward food or my body.

Summermoon 9/13/2009 5:35 PM  

I like the points you make in this. I think it's the same sort of mentality that makes people boast about their illnesses. 'Oh, and I had to get nineteen stitches. NINETEEN! Yeah, they had to perform twenty-hour surgery, just so I could walk again.'

Sarah Louise 9/13/2009 7:33 PM  

I tried and failed earlier to make a comment, so I emailed you instead. This was great.


pinkapplecore 9/14/2009 9:00 PM  

I love food to much to "stop" eating. But I'll be walking past a mirror and see my self and compare myself to this tiny, toned, and glammed she-thing and I can't help think....dang I look horrible. Sometimes I can be so okay with my self, I can accept that there are skinny girls and there are curvy girls and there are fat girls... it's life. ((plus having meat on your bones, makes you comfy to lay on...i've been compared to a care-bear... hahahaha ^. ^ ))

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