Hello everyone, it’s Grace here. We are trying something new here on my blog today: someone approached me about writing a blog about their own struggle with an eating disorder. This person wishes to remain anonymous, so please respect their privacy. I am so grateful to those of you who have reached out to me and started a discussion on mental health. I am excited to see where this project goes in the future!
That’s all from me. Take it away, anonymous:
The Struggle for Those with OSFED
The moment I started to restrict my eating was the most powerful I had felt in my whole life. However, I didn’t realize the extent to which it would take over my thoughts, emotions and my life. Eating disorders are all-consuming mental illnesses that leave lasting physical damage, and correct knowledge surrounding them is limited. Many people think that eating disordered people are only upper class Caucasian women. The image of someone struggling with these disorders are often times viewed as thin and someone who hates food. These are all myths and they are very harmful ones.
People can struggle from an eating disorder at any size, shape, gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background. When I finally went to receive treatment for my “problem with food” I had convinced myself time and again that I wasn’t “thin enough” to have an eating disorder. In my self analysis, I had conveniently overlooked the fact that I had heart palpitations and that my hair was falling out. At the time, I was a normal weight for my height. How could I possibly have an eating disorder?
I was soon diagnosed with OSFED, or Otherwise Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder. If I am being honest, I knew about the OSFED diagnosis and in a sick way I wanted to be considered “sick enough” to meet the criteria for either Bulimia or Anorexia. In the end, I was so tired of the constant worry surrounding food and not being able to go out with my friends because I was so afraid of eating. I have lost almost four years of my life to these behaviors. At my worst, I would have sold my soul to be happy with my body for one day, or even one hour.
My eating disorder started when I was considered medically obese and I had lost a considerable amount of weight through restriction and purging. On the outside I looked “normal”. What my weight didn’t show was that I made myself throw up after every meal I allowed myself— and that wasn’t often. After a while, my body slowed my metabolism because of the abuse I was putting it through and it wouldn’t allow me to lose anymore weight. The fact that I had started from a larger size meant that not only did no one realize how sick I truly was, but they were even asking my advice on how to lose weight! Of course I never let on to what I was doing to myself. In a way I thought I deserved it. And in other ways it helped me cope with everything that was going wrong in my life. Instead of focusing on everything that was hurting me, I redirected those thoughts to something else: my quest for weight loss. In my own mind, my life life would only get better if I were thin. It’s such a lonely way to think. Everything was put on hold until I was ‘thin enough” to deserve to go out with my friends. The problem was that I never felt that I deserved it and I knew that I was never going to.
There are so many people who struggle with their eating habits and many of them never get to a low weight. Just because someone ‘looks okay” doesn’t mean that they are. My story isn’t rare. In fact, many people struggle in the same way I do. Everyone deserves to be taken seriously when they talk about their eating disorder. These are life threatening mental illnesses, but there is hope. Many can go on to have a long and happy life, but it begins with a strong support system based on belief.