What Social Media Doesn’t Show Us About Eating Disorders

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“The month of February will forever hold a special place in my heart due to it being National Eating Disorder Awareness Month.

Over the years, I have become more open and honest about my struggles with my eating disorder but still kept a lot of it private in fear of judgment from others and the shame and guilt I feel when talking about it.

I always say my ED started when I was 15, so almost 8 years ago, but with a lot of work with my therapist and self-discovery, I have realized I have never had a healthy relationship with food or my body.

As a young child, I remember hating my body, comparing myself to other children, wearing big clothing to hide in, eating in secret, and thinking about food 24/7 because, at the time, it was what I turned to for comfort.

I would look in the mirror and at pictures of myself and pick apart every ‘flaw’ and be so critical of myself.

I absolutely despised the way I looked and always had thoughts about how losing weight would make me happy and fix my problems but never acted on them until around 10th grade.

There was so much chaos around me that I found a sense of control in my eating disorder.

It started off slow at first, and I didn’t see anything wrong with what I was doing, but shortly after, I completely lost control and spiraled.

woman standing in the sunflowers being happy
Courtesy of Elisabeth Hamblin

For me, and for a lot of other people with eating disorders, it’s hardly ever about the food; the food part is just the tip of the iceberg and is the only thing everyone sees, but when you look deeper and break it down, there is so much more behind it.

When someone talks about an eating disorder, many people only think about anorexia and the typical stereotype of a thin white woman, but there are many different eating disorders and each one is just as deadly as the other and they affect every size, age, race, gender, and religion.

There are also many different reasons an ED can form including trauma, assault, genetic factors, toxic diet culture/poor body image, other mental illnesses, instability, and so much more.

Unfortunately, this cruel disorder has no preference and anyone can fall victim to it. Over the past 8 years, I have struggled with binge eating, bulimia, and anorexia, and I was absolutely miserable and unhealthy with each one.

I have come a long way in my recovery journey with the help of my amazing support system and professionals, but there are still many areas I struggle in.

Social media tends to glamorize eating disorders, weight loss, diet culture, and toxic/unrealistic beauty standards.

woman in a bikini smiling
Courtesy of Elisabeth Hamblin

What social media doesn’t show is countless nights of crying yourself to sleep because of how miserable you are, not sleeping because of the excruciating hunger pains/stomach pains…

Only being able to think about food or being afraid to fall asleep because your heart is doing weird palpitations and you hope and pray that you wake up the next morning.

Society doesn’t talk about how it affects your everyday life including work and school or about isolation and losing friends, family, interest in everything…

Social life altogether comes with eating disorders due to pushing everyone away just so you can stick to your ED rituals and keep your ED hidden.

Society doesn’t talk about the consuming shame and guilt, the excruciating stomach pain that’s there 24/7, infertility, hair loss, countless doctors appointments, almost blacking out anytime you stand up, heart palpitations, constant crippling anxiety and depression, being too weak to even get out of bed, staying sick 24/7 due to your body not having the proper nutrients and strength to fight off illnesses, constantly being cold and covered in bruises, the constant fatigue, and so much more.

Eating disorders aren’t glamorous, trendy, a choice, something someone can just ‘get over,’ and they’re not just about food.

They are a disease, an addiction, and overall an absolute living hell that will potentially kill you.

Statistics show that MILLIONS of Americans struggle with an eating disorder of some sort but over 70% are unable to receive treatment or are too afraid to reach out for help due to the fear of judgment because of the stigma surrounding eating disorders.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any other mental illness, and yet there is still such a toxic stigma around them which makes people too afraid to reach out for help or makes people think they aren’t ‘sick enough’ for help.

Eating disorders are not weight disorders, and they can affect ANYONE!

Eating disorders need to stop being glamorized, the stigma around them needs to be broken, and awareness needs to be raised of the reality of the negative effects eating disorders cause.

Recovery is hard, messy, and painful, but I truly believe full ED recovery is possible for anyone, but we need to break the stigma, tell diet culture to shove it, show love and compassion to those who are struggling, not be judgmental, offer support, and, most importantly, show kindness.

Freedom is possible, and there’s a much greater life outside of ED.”

woman eating a cookie she made
Courtesy of Elisabeth Hamblin

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Elisabeth Hamblin. You can follow her journey on Facebook. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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