06.02.19 // World Eating Disorder Action Day (aka - this shit is still going on?!)

June 2nd is World Eating Disorder Action Day. For the last five years I’ve been struggling from anorexia nervosa. I didn’t want to tell anyone at first because I didn’t want pity, I didn’t want people to think I was stupid, and I didn’t want to be labeled as crazy. I’m at the best place I’ve been in in five years now - but that took an insane amount of work. The idea that eating disorder are something you can just snap out just shows how misunderstood they are. 

I’ve been through 2 inpatient stays, 2 day hospital stays, countless therapy, nutrition, and doctors appointments. I’ve had to leave school twice and leave friends behind to “focus on myself” when my brain was still telling me I was just being dramatic and that I “wasn’t really that sick”. I’ve had my heart rate drop to 35 bpm, I’ve had doctors tell me I can’t run or exercise because my heart may give out. I’ve had to miss out on so many experiences like nights out with friends, dinners with my family, the ability to travel. 

I’m not saying any of this for pity. I’m saying it because people don’t understand how fucking hard it is to recover from an eating disorder. People who I met along my recovery are the strongest people I have ever met in my life. Everyday we’re going against the voice in our head that basically shuts your body down with fear when you’re trying to re-nourish it or make a decision that’ll lead you to a healthier path. 

I’m saying this because eating disorders are serious illnesses that need more attention and funding. I’ve been in the lowest places in my life because of my anorexia - times where I felt like I didn’t even see a point in living anymore because I thought it would be too hard to recover. I felt trapped.

Anorexia nervosa has the highest death rate of any psychiatric illness, without treatment, up to 20% of people with a serious eating disorder die. Eating disorders carry an increased risk for suicide and medical complications. It’s not as simple as, “just eat something”. If it was? We wouldn’t need a day like today.

And yet we still live in a culture that pushes for diet talk, that tells people that eating a cheeseburger is bad and that the only way to be happy is to be 10 pounds lighter. We live in a culture where stereotypes around what “an eating disorder looks like” keep people out of treatment and not asking for help because they don’t feel sick enough. So many people with eating disorder look healthy, but they can be extremely ill. Eating disorder affect all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations - everyone. 

Diets do not work. I can say that losing weight does not make you any happier, it’s just a way to cover up how you’re really feeling by blaming your body instead of facing your emotions. Eating disorders are a combination of biological and physiological factors, it’s not just about being skinny and reducing it to that makes the illness seem superficial. But, you don’t need to have an eating disorder to know that there is something extremely fucked up about the way we talk about our bodies and food. 

Today and everyday I’m working with millions of other people toward recovery, I’m the happiest I’ve been in five years now but that took an insane amount of work. So many more people than you realize are suffering from eating disorders and mental illness in general. 

To those people - you are not the only one and you are not alone. The thoughts you think are fucked up? I know for a fact that other people have thought them. You’ll never be sick enough for treatment and you don’t have to be at rock bottom to ask for help. The strongest thing someone can do is reach out and ask for help - it’s not weak at all. (And anyone who says it is please go into inpatient for 4 months and see how that goes). 

Eating disorders are not choices - but the choice to recover and provide more support for people recovering is ours. I rant about my struggles because I know there are other people going through it and hearing someone else share their story makes us feel less alone - and it also shows recovery is totally possible. 

Oh and of course, fuck eating disorders. :)

Kate Farrell