'Exposing & beating the world of the eating disorder'
Posted by flissyb
24th Feb 2015

I have never felt more compelled to write on this subject. The eating disorder is a genuine, hidden and damaging illness and needs to be exposed honestly and sensitively in order to help those struggling and those trying to support. Here is my journey through the world of the eating disorder (support resources to help at the end).

I see the eating disorder as something that Ďpreysí upon a person in pain, suffering, heartache and upset and reaches out a holding hand. All of a sudden life is interesting, fun, gives focus, brings achievement and boosts self-esteem. For weeks and months you can feel wonderful and elated, especially when the heart aching pain you felt not so long ago has seemingly disappeared. In its place there is a bright shining light begging for you to run towards it.

It is wonderful, attractive and picturesque.

You pass beautiful scenery with people admiring you and spurring you on, feeling surprised at how you ever thought you could feel this way. For the first time you actually feel love towards yourself.

However, over time, the bright light dims and everything becomes darker until you canít run anymore. You are now desperate to run to get away but feel pulled back in over and over again. You are being sucked into this new, dark, haunting world.

You are trapped.

It used to be your friend and you feel pressure to stay but at the same time you want to scream and escape. You face the dilemma of turning your back on who was once the one that loved you and gave you back your life. Somehow this new world has invaded your brain and you canít shake it out like you want to. It is overwhelming. It is compelling. And you have no other choice but to try and respond to its non-stop demands. As you attempt your escape you are breathless and you canít find any words. You donít know how to ask for help.

You are alone.

No one could possibly understand how it feels. Any fight to get back to your safe place is quashed. Itís impossible. Soon the blanket of darkness becomes so heavy life no longer matters at all and you consider the thought of making it all stop.

You want peace.

You are locked in a world that lives inside you and around you and you have to conform, you have no other choice. At times the world is nice to you and at times hateful and you are flung between trust and despair. You will be punished or complimented, whatever that world chooses because ultimately, you are imprisoned. You are tangled within the web of love and hate as it confuses you, bullies you and slowly destroys.

You are trapped just like I was trapped.

I was empty.
I felt nothing.
I wanted to die.

But I beat that horrible, hateful world.

Because it tricked me into believing I was safe and that the shards of momentary light were good enough for me. They were not. I was better than that. I was worthy of more. I made a long a journey to find my way out of that world and I did. And do you know what? That booming voice of pleasure and pain was exposed in the same way as in the Wizard of Oz, when the curtain revealed a mere, non-threatening, nobody.
The light in my life is no longer artificial. I see real sunshine and beauty and I feel free. No more tricks, no more lies, no more building you up to tear you down. I beat that eating disorder and so can you.

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified - symptoms of both anorexia and bulimia) in trying to cope with a relationship breakdown, family issues, friendship problems and work stress. I felt lost, grew to hate myself and desperately wanted to feel wanted and accepted. Beating the eating disorder will forever be my biggest conquest. I received professional eating disorder treatment and CBT. I was an expert in my destruction and I had to admit I had a problem before help was effective. It was hard, it took time, but now my life is enriched with goodness and I have re-trained my brain to think differently. Food, body image, diet and exercise no longer rule my thoughts. They are purely important from a health perspective - nothing more and nothing less. My associated feelings and obsessions have dispersed. They were forced out into the open, faced and over time rebuilding the relationship with myself enabled me to resolve the problems in my life.


I feel good enough.
I choose what I do.
I choose what I eat.
My body is healthy.
I avoided the long term health risks associated with the eating disorder.
My periods started again.
I no longer judge on shape or size.
I don't listen to my eating disorder thoughts anymore.

I am able to cope with stresses in life without resorting to restricting my diet, over exercising, bingeing and purging with the belief life would somehow be better and Iíd have achieved something. Itís a lie. I achieve more than ever now writing, volunteering, guest speaking and being an integral and valued part of my family and friends.

Listen to that little voice that sits deep inside....thatís your voice...listen to are in control. Not the eating disorder. But you do need help and you do need support. Don't try to do it silently in your head, by testing yourself, setting goals and limiting yourself because the tricks of the trade will sneak back in and feed the eating disorder. As a result your feelings of control will spiral back out of control and the cycle begins once more. With support it's about breaking the cycle.

Tell someone you trust how you honestly feel and ask for help....
That person could be anyone - a family, friend, GP, teacher..... and ask to see a professional for specialist ED treatment. Visit recommended support websites for information and avoid chat rooms where negative behaviour can be encouraged. You are not alone and you are worthy of more than what the eating disorder tells you.

If you are concerned that someone may have an eating disorder....
Ask them if they are ok. The illness is not about food, it is about control. That person is in distress. Support them sensitively and encourage them to speak to a professional. Donít get frustrated or tell that person what to do. If you take the control away it is highly likely the person struggling will engage even more so in the eating disorder's behaviour. Be patient and understanding and if the person ignores you initially, don't give up - no one wants to expose and untangle the sadness in their life. Be kind, persevere and always make that person feel valued.

I hope this piece increases understanding of what an eating disorder actually feels like and encourages anyone struggling to take the first step to getting help and support.

I'm not going to share any of my photos from when I was poorly because my size is not relevant. What IS important is that in this recent photo there is no hidden pain and I am ok to be me. That will always be good enough.

Donít grin and bear it. Share it.
Support National Eating Disorders Week.

Support resources
Fantastic site providing helplines, online support and a network of UK-wide self-help groups helping adults and young people.
Online CBT support with section ĎIím not good enoughí providing online support to help like yourself again. This can be helpful but professional support is still required.
Masses of information on this brilliant Young Minds charity website with real stories from young people, family members and loads of support material including a parentís helpline number.
The book I wrote building up to my diagnosis of bipolar and my resulting hospital treatment. It includes an honest account of my journey through the eating disorder. Possible trigger so please bear this in mind.

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