(un)healthy thoughts at any size.

There is something that has been bothering me lately. I haven’t thought about it for a long time, so of course my brain would start getting all philosophic and deep (and slightly confusing) when I am trying to finish 42 pages of AP notes in 3 days because I procrastinated all summer. No kidding, last night I sent my friend a 4 page long text ranting about “how sexist it was of our founding fathers to create a country led by a (ahem MALE) president, because it meant Walt Disney had no material to work with to give America a Disney Princess. Therefore we have American Girl. Is there an american girl land though? Nope. Disneyland, filled with castles. Of lies” See, that didn’t even make sense. I need sleep…anyway onto my most recent deep thoughts… 

this post does go into a slight bit of numbers, habits, etc. so if you are sensitive to that please disregard. Go to my last post about an ice cream sundae contest!

You don’t have to be underweight to have an eating disorder.

In my case, I was caught ‘early’ enough for it not to have gone that far.

Does the fact that my BMI never fell below the ‘healthy’ range make the thoughts I had (and occasionally still have) any less disordered? No. My lowest mentally was not my lowest physically. I was tired, constantly cold (in the summer), I sometimes had heart pains. I was confronted about what I was doing, I saw counselors, I ate more and some of those problems went away. The thoughts were less rampant but still there and I still lost weight. At my lowest weight I was omitted to an outpatient (not inpatient) program. Does the fact that I wasn’t in full day treatment mean my thoughts were any quieter? No, it just hadn’t gone far enough for that to be completely necessary. I was asked by the intake specialist if I really thought I had an eating disorder. Yes, I said, I think I do. No, I know I do. I had read online the ‘symptoms’ and I identified with most of them. No, I’m not drastically underweight. But if I don’t get help, I might get there. Just the same, gaining weight doesn’t make the thoughts go away.

When I finally told my friends (just a few) that the reason I was always busy after school was because I was in an outpatient program being treated for anorexia, they didn’t believe me. “But you eat(do you actually see what I eat? an apple and a slice of bread?) “But you look healthy.” (read: But you aren’t emaciated enough to be anorexic. You don’t fall into society’s standards for an eating disorder). So thats what its come to. Not only are there unrealistic standards for what women and girls should look like, but there are standards for an eating disorder. If you aren’t noticeably underweight, If you actually eat (however little), if you don’t “act” anorexic, then apparently to the rest of the oblivious world, you aren’t.

But to be truthful, there aren’t any ‘rules’ of what is considered an eating disorder. Imagine two people, if you will, A and B. A was originally at a healthy weight, but developed an eating disorder, lost 20 pounds, and is now underweight. CALL THE AUTHORITIES she now has a flashing sign over her head that says ED. On the other hand, B was originally considered overweight, then developed an eating disorder, lost 50 pounds (unhealthily) and is told by friends how great she looks, how healthy she must be, how jealous they are. Fuel to the fire my friends. She may have even had the ED longer than A, but nobody would believe that upon looking at her simply because she is not underweight.

Truth be known, an eating disorder is not a competition. At least, not one that I want any part of. Going into it, however, I never believed that I really had one. I didn’t think I was “worthy” of that label. I wasn’t thin enough to be anorexic. I was thin, but not “thin enough”. I also don’t think I was solely anorexic. In the beginning, I had a mild case of Binge ED (when I began to rapidly gain weight with mindless, sometimes emotional, definitely uncontrollable eating. If you put a plate of cookies in front of me, I couldn’t stop. All I could think about were those cookies). With initial weight loss came a diagnoses of ‘pre-anorexia’, which later turned into a diagnoses of anorexia, which I believe was (is) really a blend of that plus orthorexic tendencies, exercise bulimia, and EDNOS. Yet the whole time I was considered to be in a ‘healthy weight range’. At 5’1”, my highest was 130, my lowest (at a doctors, not at home in the morning) was 100. Yes, this was a large weight loss, over the course of a year and a half. But it was always a “healthy” weight range. And yet, over the course of the two years I have had an eating disorder, between gains and losses, gaining back and losing again, my weigh has fluctuated a total of over 64 pounds. That is not healthy.

Its not about the weight you are. If it was, I wouldn’t have struggled, and I wouldn’t still struggle. Its about the ugly thoughts in your head. The disordered thinking. Please, if you are struggling with unhealthy thoughts, don’t disregard them simply because you or others can’t ‘see’ the eating disorder. I think (and this is not meant in any offensive way whatsoever, please don’t take it as such) that an eating disorder is like a cancer. You can’t see it until after its already taken hold, caused damage that is so deeply rooted that overcoming it is no easy task.

Thoughts are still thoughts. Struggles are still struggles, and disordered thinking is still vicious and harming at any weight.

You are not alone. You are never alone.

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8 thoughts on “(un)healthy thoughts at any size.

  1. I SO agree with you here,Lacey! It is so ridiculous to doubt someone’s struggles only because of his/ her weight. Sadly,a lot of people think you’re only anorexic if you eat nothing,exercise 24/7 and look like a ghost… In the face of their superficial information and rumors out there,they can’t see how absolutely complicated dianosing an Eating Disorder can be and that it is neither about weight nor about food in the end but about feelings and emotions and thoughts. I guess that is something only *we* can understand,no matter how hard we try to make outstanding people understand…

    • Yeah, it stinks. The problem is that people won’t understand unless they are given the right information! I have the notion to propose a ‘spirit week’ during NEDA week at my school. We have awareness weeks for bullying, even AIDS, so why isn’t there an awareness week at schools for the (more rampant than often thought) eating disorders? I imagine bracelets that say “be-YOU-tiful”, and a ‘all natural’ (no makeup) embrace yourself day…

      • EDs are sort of a “taboo-subject”,I think. They teach children at school about Aids and bullying because these are,well,problems that can be solved,or at least prevented… If you are affected by an ED,though,and don’t want the others to know,awareness weeks would be super “revealing” and scary for you,probably,and that’s what they want to avoid.

      • thats true…I guess I just wish that there was at least a day focused on making girls feel beautiful no matter what, with no judgement or anything. To let them know that they are not alone. Even if its not directly an ED thing, but an “everyone is beautiful” thing. Unfortunately, it is high school and there is that whole “judgement on you, Im too cool for spirit days” thing.

  2. BEAUTIFUL Lacey. First, I can TOTALLY relate with the AP stuff. UGH. After six packets and TWO essays for AP US History, I STILL have to finish two books, annotate and analyze an excerpt, and write an essay for AP English. GAH. And as for the ED thing, I know what you mean! I always had disordered eating habits and there were some days where I thought that just being ‘skinny’ was healthy, because everyone keeps complaining about ‘fat’ people being unhealthy right? Uhm.. no Britt. There were days where I convinced myself not to eat anything because I thought it was the right thing to do and hey, I wasn’t underweight so it wasn’t an issue. Man was I wrong!!! So glad I found this blog. LOVE it 🙂

    • Aww thank you! Yeah, I think I’ve pretty much learned my lesson with the procrastination thing, I hope… It can be hard when society tells you one thing, your brain tells you another, your physical body says something else, and the people you are around say something completely different! It all just ends up getting really confusing as far as ‘the right’ thing to do. And thanks! That just totally made my day 🙂

  3. Such a true post! I love that you wrote about this– I am one of those people that struggled with an ED (and still am) but was never underweight either. I “looked” healthy but my mind was cluttered with disgusting and obsessive thoughts about food and exercise constantly. The only person I’ve told about my struggles is my mom and she always says something along the lines of “well, you look healthy”. She doesn’t (and I don’t think most people do) understand that you can have an eating disorder and not be dangerously underweight. You can indeed have one and have a normal BMI, it’s all about those stupid thoughts in your head. Thank you for writing this post 🙂

    • Thank you! and thank you for sharing your struggle, I understand how hard it is, when people just don’t get it. It stinks but its often the case. Your comment was awesome and made my day!!

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