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Eating disorders are not a lifestyle choice

Thursday, 29 November 2012 Georgina

Georgina blogs about the misconceptions she has faced around her eating disorder.

This blog originally appeared on the Time to Change blog. Time to Change was a national campaign to end the stigma surrounding mental health. It closed on 31st March 2021.

"Why don't you just eat that? It's only one bite. Seriously. What's your problem?"

"Stop wasting food and money. You're just flushing it down the drain- literally."

"So you're not coming out cause you're going to the gym- AGAIN. Get a life."

"No point in asking you to come for dinner- you'll just drink water and be on another diet."

"Cancelling again because you don't feel up to it. There's always a problem with you, isn't there."

"No, you don't look fat. Stop staring in the mirror. You look fine."

"People don't seem to understand that it isn't a lifestyle choice."

These are just a few examples of the comments that have been thrown my way over the past 10 years of my battle with anorexia/ bulimia. People don't seem to understand that it isn't a lifestyle choice. An eating disorder is portrayed as a desire to be the thinnest person in the world for vanity purposes.

It's ridiculous how far removed from the truth that is. In actual fact, it has very little to do with body image and much more to do with emotional control and distress. I've had my illness for a long time, and I've experienced many waves of the disorder. I suffer from depression and anxiety in relation to my eating disorder, and it is suspected that I also have borderline personality disorder too.

"My eating disorder has damaged my life immensely."

My eating disorder has damaged my life immensely. It has caused relationships to come crashing down around me and I've had to leave jobs as I was too weak to even climb the stairs. I was often told I was being selfish or that it was self inflicted behaviour and that all I needed to do was eat. When it comes down to it there is an element of truth to the 'just eat' thing. However it wasn't that simple for me.

Food was like poison to me. It resembled all the negativity in my life. It made me feel weighed down by impurity, dirtiness, ugliness and selfishness. My body shape made me miserable and I spent all day everyday thinking about how great life would be if I was skinny. The problem was that I was never skinny. Not in my head at least.

I was on death’s door with my skeleton on show and I still wasn't skinny in my mind. It was a path of self destruction. My self esteem and self worth all tangled up in the idea of being the ideal woman, ultimately the ideal woman in my head was a corpse, only I couldn't see it that way.

"The ones who love me stood by me"

People would tell me that I looked great as the weight dropped off but they didn't have a clue about the thoughts in my head. I lost 10 years of my life. Everywhere I went and everything I did- I wasn't really there at all. My body was there but my head was wrapped up in when I next had to eat and how I could get rid of it so I got thinner. It went on for years. The anger and anxiety around food and being social got out of hand and I shied away from the world. Nobody understood. I lost friends. People abandoned and gave up on me. They thought I was a loner, a freak, a weirdo, a chore and an inconvenience.

I fought my way into recovery with help and treatment from professionals. I relapsed a fair few times. Now I'm on the up though and I will not let anyone bring me down. The ones who love me stood by me and those who left me were naïve and uneducated on mental health and the seriousness of it. Today I am in recovery from my eating disorder and I'm looking to the future.

I hope one day people will see that negative comments and misunderstanding of mental health causes more damage to people living with mental health problems. Having a mental illness doesn't make me weak or any less of a woman than anybody else. If anything I feel my illness has taught me to be understanding, empathic, considerate and open minded.

Eating disorders can feel like they're taking over your life, but there is support available. Take a look at our information on eating problems for self-care tips,  to see what kind of treatments are available and what organisations can help.

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