Imagine waking up every morning, struggling to get out of bed. The room spins. Stumbling over to the mirror, you study and criticize every last inch of your body as the words “fat, ugly, worthless” echo in your head.
You then stagger to the bathroom, using the wall to hold you up. You don’t remember the last time you ate a “normal” meal. Stepping on the scale will determine your mood for the day. If it has decreased since yesterday, you have succeeded; if it has stayed the same, or worse, gone up, those voices inside your head become stronger, telling you how useless you are.
Throughout your day, you skip meals and avoid food at all costs, or binge on whatever food is in sight and secretly purge in bathrooms where nobody can hear you. Or like many women in this country, you flip-flop between both of these behaviors.
For approximately seven million American women, this is their reality. This is the life of a woman with an eating disorder.
“I needed to lose weight…fast,” said 18-year-old Liss of Boston. “So I started counting calories, and then counting meals, and then counting pounds, and then inches. I had lost 20 pounds in one month. Not too shabby I thought to myself. The weight loss became an obsession and it took over.”
Liss’s story is all too common. What begins as a diet to “lose a few pounds” becomes an obsession. Young women across the country become fixated with numbers on the scale, numbers of calories, fat, carbohydrates, inches, etc.
The two most dangerous eating disorders are bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. Bulimia is characterized as a disorder in which a person binges on large amounts of food, well past the point of fullness, and then purge...
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...r because they feel as if their eating disorder defines them; they are nothing without it.
“Ed wants you to think that he is your identity,” Schaefer said. “But that is a lie; you are not your eating disorder. You are [you]. He tells you that he is what makes you special.”
Schaefer admits that she also believed that her eating disorder defined her at one point in her life as well. However, she then went on to learn that all it caused was “excruciating pain.”
“Treating my eating disorder like relationship, not a condition or an illness, really worked for me,” Schaefer said.
Schaefer also suggests journal writing and being surrounded with good supports.
“In recovery, it was difficult to connect with Jenni at first,” Schaefer said. “But with lots of patience and persistence, I eventually found her, and I am thrilled to now be living a life without Ed.”
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