There's nothing my eating disorder (ED) detests more than this season of indulgence - drinking, eating and partying to excess. And not a lot of exercising.
Most people's heaven, but my hell.
So please don't make it any worse for us folk recovering/suffering from an eating disorder by saying these common phrases...
(I know you mean well, but here's what my warped head has thought over the past 17 years when you uttered these words):
1. "You're looking healthy" or "You look so much better now you've put weight on."
First things first, EDs are extremely irrational and illogical.
My heart knows you mean well but my ED head says: "I don't want to be healthy. I don't want to gain weight.
"Healthy means that I've recovered and I don't want to recover.
"Recovery means I'm a failure.
"Plus by healthy, you're meaning I'm fatter now."
And in fact, most people with eating disorders are overweight. So weight can't really indicate what is going on for a person with an eating disorder.
2. "Go on, try this (insert name of food here), please."
If I've said "no thanks" already, I mean it.
Yes you may be able to force me to eat (said food) just to please/relieve you.
But that mouthful will give me days of anxiety and cause lots of unhelpful behaviours (excess exercise, starvation, purging or bingeing. Or all four.).
So a mouthful of food won't change my mindset, I wish there was such a cure!
3. "You're so lucky, you're so thin."
I know you're trying to compliment me which is nice.
But my weight whether up or down isn't to do with "luck."
My weight is partly due to genetics but also the toll an ED has taken on my body.
And if you knew the dark and disgusting reality of eating disorders, you definitely wouldn't describe me as "lucky."
4. "But you're so pretty and have such a good life (and kids to think about)."
My friend with an ED also gets "But you're from such a good family, how can you have problems?"
OK, so this just makes us feel even more guilty for ruining our lives and unintentionally hurting those around us.
Nice compliments sadly won't cut it, when it comes to getting better.
I'm trapped in a glass box and I can still see all the wonderful things in the world, but I just can't touch them yet.
Mental health isn't selective and you never know what's actually going on for a person.
5. "What diet are you on?"
If I were to answer this honestly, the truth is I'm on a "killing yourself slowly routine."
EDs aren't glam, they're gross. And diets can aid the start of this insidious disease.
6. "You look horrible!" or "Men don't like bones."
Tough love doesn't help when you're so delicate. And don't let my inner feminist respond to the latter.
I may look like a skeleton (or large) but I'm still a human being with feelings and I have heightened emotions from not eating (or eating too much). So shut up.
7. "Why don't you try these (insert name of health products/shakes/diet plans)?"
Yes I'm gullible because my ED is always selecting different diets. But by you criticising what I do eat and drink in a bid to make me "healthier" and encouraging me to buy products, means that, without realising you've added to my list of "no" foods and you've stolen a food group I could've eaten in my "yes" foods list.
So if I tell you I've got or had an ED please don't say anything about good or bad foods/drinks. Let me be. As my head hurts enough as it is.
8. "I'm so glad to see you eating" or "Haven't you eaten enough?" Or "I didn't think you ate."
Whether saying in jest/out of concern/relief or not. I would've died by now if I didn't eat or drink so please don't pick up or mention any of my eating habits because you'll only make me more secretive around food.
And ironically in all this, FOOD is not the issue.
9. "You must be a control freak."
No. my ED was the only thing I could control in my life which is how it all began. But now even that b*****d controls me! So I'm not freaking controlling anything!
10. "At least you can choose to get better, it's not like other illnesses."
Hmmm. I wish. Just read all of the above. EDs aren't a choice.
Thanks to the brave warriors who shared their views with me to help make this article what it is.
Originally posted on MamaMei.co.uk