Information for Sufferers
Do I have an eating disorder?
Are your eating habits interfering with your everyday life? Are you compromising your health for your eating habits? Are you fixated on weights and numbers? Obsessed with food and nutritional content? Do you feel the need to escape or distract, from problems, other people, life in general, and do you use food to try and achieve this? If the answer to one or more of these questions is yes, then there is the possibility that you have an eating disorder.
Eating disorders manifest in many different ways. Purging, food restriction, fasting, binging, laxative abuse, diet pill abuse, compulsive eating, over exercising, are all examples of eating disordered behaviours.
Which eating disorder do I have?
All too often, eating disorders are split into groups, classified with different acronyms and scary sounding names. Each eating disorder may come with a different set of stigmas associated with it. And what's even more complicated, people are often diagnosed with more than one different type of eating disorder at various stages in their lives, perhaps because the behaviours change, or the sufferer's weight changes, and sometimes it only needs to be a slight change. But here's what we've discovered on the Recovery Boat: it doesn't matter which ED you "technically" have. If you have an eating disorder - be it a binging type, restricting type, purging type or a combination - then you're suffering and deserve a better, happier life.
What are the consequences of eating disorders?
There are distressing physical symptoms which come with eating disorders. Skin problems, hair loss, digestion problems, hormonal problems including decreased sex drive and Amenorrhoea or irregular periods in women, infections, poor circulation, growth of lanugo, dizziness, poor concentration and difficulty sleeping.
But there are also the emotional and psychological problems. Fear of weight gain, fear of food, depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsions, low self esteem, poor and/or distorted body image, mood swings.
Eventually you may find that your life revolves around the eating disorder, because they can be incredibly time consuming. You may find it difficult to concentrate on anything other than food. Eating disorders can cause people to lose their jobs, their social lives, their education.
I have the symptoms of an eating disorder, but I don't feel like I have one...
It is common for people to be in denial about their eating disorders. This may be because they are using it as a protective barrier against something which they feel is worse. It may take time for you to realise that you have a problem, and then even longer to actually accept it. There is, after all, a difference between knowing something and believing it. It is also common for sufferers to be convinced by the disorder that they are in some way superhuman. That it's ok for them not to eat, or to purge or binge. It's easier to try and distract yourself from the truth, to normalise the abnormal.
It may take a series of little steps or realisations for you to get some help, or it may be one big epiphany. And even then, you may still struggle with thoughts of being a fraud, that somehow you're exaggerating your problems. Again this is common for people with eating disorders, and the fact remains that if you are unhappy and struggling with food, then you need to get help. You deserve to get help.
Perhaps you feel you don't fit the stereotype for those suffering with eating disorders. You may be male, or of an ethnic background or age not normally associated with the stereotype of the eating disordered person.
But this is important: eating disorders do not discriminate. There are very few sufferers who actually fit the stereotypes. Anyone can suffer from an eating disorder, regardless of their gender, race, religion, culture, sexuality, location, age or experience. And people suffer for all kinds of different reasons. When it really comes down to it, it's not really about food or weight. And it's an illness like any other. Not a choice or a fad diet, and certainly not something you can just snap out of.
So what now?
For more information on Recovery, click here, join our forum, or check out our links page.
The Recovery Boat is a website and forum which provides peer support for people who suffer with eating disorders, and their carers and loved ones.
No. We are Pro-Recovery.
No. Recovery Boat is designed to help you along the way and provide support, and should be used alongside professional help from your doctor/therapist/counsellor/dietician.
You may never feel completely ready for recovery. Recovery means facing your fears and accepting tough challenges, and who ever feels completely ready for that? But if you know that you can't go on living like this any longer, if you want to be happy and healthy, then it's time.