5 Major Lessons I Learned from Having an Eating Disorder

August 7, 2015

5 Things I Learned from Having an Eating Disorder24 million people  (yes, not just women and girls are affected) in the U.S. suffer from an eating disorder.  Many who are not affected directly, wave off the problem like it is not a big deal, but the truth is, it is. Those who are affected, normally have emotional problems below the surface that manifest into eating problems. It is not merely a “vain person’s disease” as many attribute it to be. These problems also affect family, friends, and loved ones, making for very difficult months or even years.

I was lucky. I got help when I needed it and had a strong group of friends who backed me up the entire step of the way. The height of my problems was definitely not the highlight of my college years, but it shaped me into the person that I am today and taught me many valuable life lessons.

Your True Friends Will Stick With You No Matter What 

People get uncomfortable when you tell them what is going on in your life. Some will stare. Some will run away screaming and flailing their arms, not wanting to deal with the problem. I was lucky. I had friends who stood by me at my lowest point and were there every step of the way. I also had friends who stopped talking to me. If I couldn’t count on them to be there at my lowest point why would I want them in my life anyway? Friends should be support you, not make you feel worse.

People Will Try To “One-Up” You, Belittle You, and Write You Off

When I came back from an extended absence, many people that I had been close to had no idea why I was gone and had questions. These were peers, coworkers, professors, and even the barista I visited every day. I told very select people what my circumstances had been. Very few actually supported me. The rest tried to tell me about that “one time they dieted,” how it was stupid what I had done, or just merely shrugged. People in life won’t always get you and will try to make you feel bad. You need to move on and find people who understand and won’t be a dick about it.

You don’t need to excessively justify yourself to everyone

This one is self-explanatory. At the height of my disorder, I felt that everyone was on to me and I always felt the need to make up these elaborate justifications (or lies, depending on how you look at it) for my actions. This carried on even after I started getting better. You don’t need to justify yourself to anyone. Seriously. There will always be someone out there who will try and tear you apart and make you feel bad, making you feel the need to justify your actions. You don’t. That person just sucks.

People will think that you are vain, narcissistic or vying for attention–so stop caring

Although I already somewhat mentioned this, if my past comes up in conversation, many people subtly mention that I must really want to look a certain way and am into myself (ahem, subtle jab at me being a narcissist) or that I just did all of this for attention. At first these comments made me angry. Extremely angry. Then I realized, that these comments come from ignorance and that I am my own person and can either let these ignorant people affect me, or just move on with my life. I choose the latter.

You only need to worry about yourself when making decisions on what’s best for YOU

SO many people tried to get into my head when I make decisions that will ultimately affect me and not the people giving me the useless advice. Of course, there were certain people that I did want opinions from, but many that I didn’t want them from. I was already confused about a lot of things, and these comments from people just made it worse. Ultimately, it is your decision to do what is best for you. The decision may not make everyone happy, but it will make YOU happy in the long run.

I’d love to know if there’s anything you’d like to add! 

Related: What I Learned from Eating Disorder Recovery

7 Hidden Warning Signs of an Eating Disorder


Photo: Julia Caesar via Unsplash


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Peaceful Dumpling is used for articles written by staff writers and freelance contributors who wish to remain unidentified.


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