What I’ve Learnt About Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders…eh?

So we’re rapidly approaching the end of our Eating Disorder Awareness Week and boy, it’s been great!  It’s been wonderful to see people getting on-board, helping us raise awareness.  As Hannah Brown mentioned in her opening thoughts, I knew next to nothing about eating disorders when we started this week but now…?  Now I’ve learned a few things!

I know, I know…it goes without saying that if you take a subject about which I know nothing, add in experiences of people who know things about it and then give it all a good shake in my head then I’ll learn, but even so!  But what have I learned?  Let’s take a look!

A Difficulty to Comprehend

Before this week, I’ve always found eating disorders difficult to understand.  In my limited understanding of them, I’ve always believed anorexia to involve starving oneself, bulimia to involve eating then bringing it back up.  While aspects of that description are accurate, they’re not completely true.  As our guests Hannah Brown, Elle Rose, Hope Virgo and Cheryl have already told us, there is more to each of them than that.

Still, I always found it difficult to understand.  As someone whose appetite has only started wavering lately with my depression, I’ve never quite understood how people can refuse to eat.  If I don’t eat, I know about it and end up getting quite cranky!  So to think that people could do this to themselves was always a little difficult for me.

Take bulimia now, where people stereotypically binge eat and then bring it back up.  Recently I had some battered fish and chips – something I’ve had plenty of times before – but there was something in it that disagreed with me.  After inducing numerous instances of uncomfortable stomach, I decided I needed to throw up to make myself feel better.  Simply doing that was, unsurprisingly, uncomfortable, and I didn’t understand why people would want to do it to themselves.

Now…I do.

A Different Perspective

As with any mental health condition, eating disorders are complicated.  For some, they fit the mould exactly, as do other conditions.  Others, however, are different.  There are people who would come “on the spectrum” of eating disorders but not really fit the typical aspects.  It’s just as complicated as any other matter of mental health.

A lot of us suffer with body image, perhaps as part of depression or anxiety, or perhaps because of the ridiculous standards that society put on us.  To look at me, you wouldn’t think so but I do have a problem with body image.  I look at the shape of my stomach and I don’t like it.  Most people would argue with me, but I look at it and see the wrong shape.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not an eating disorder (unless an outrageously sweet sweet-tooth counts!!) but it all ties in.  We get our misconceptions about our own bodies and that, in turn, leads to the complications, be it an eating disorder or something else.

Running an eating disorder awareness week has not only engaged plenty of people across the world and brought them more information and understanding about how people cope with eating disorders, what causes them and more…it has given me an insight and opened my eyes to them as well.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Tomorrow, Cheryl and I will be live on our Facebook page to talk about how the week has gone.  Even after this week is over, though, we still want to keep raising awareness for eating disorders.  It’s important that people talk about these more, so that those suffering can get the help they need and the friends and family members supporting them can also get support.

To quote Hope Virgo from her post “You’re A Worthless Fat Girl” in our Eating Disorder Awareness Week:

“Try and remember this, stand strong, keep fighting and don’t ever give up!”

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Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Author: Alex Davies

Alex Davies is the creator and writer for Pushing Back the Shadows. Find out more about his journey here and connect with him on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

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