I have a confession to make. I have an eating disorder.
I don't have anorexia or bulimia, the ones that are the most well known. But I still have one. It has no obvious name. You can't tell by looking at me that I have one. I'm overweight, I don't bing and purge, and I don't count calories.
What I do is simply not eat. I can eat only a single – reasonable – meal in a day. I can go without eating at all in a day. And I can go with normal eating for days/weeks on end before another bout with my eating disorder rears its ugly head.
Yes, the self starvation is a daily thing. Some days are better than others. Other days it takes Himself reminding me constantly to eat to get me to do anything. I can't always tell I'm hungry because I've trained myself not to recognize being hungry. There are times where I haven't eaten in hours and I don't feel hungry. Not because I'm not, but because I have trained by body to ignore the fact that I haven't eaten.
Eating disorders aren't a joking matter. I've heard some really nasty jokes made about people with eating disorders. I've also heard some less than helpful comments made to those of us with eating disorders that are meant to “help”, but instead cause more problems.
This is the article that sparked the idea for this post. My eating disorder doesn't have a name. But I am no less affected by it than someone with the more recognizable eating disorders.
Part of the situation, for me at least, is control. If I can't control everything in my life I have to control something. And eating is something I can control. It also has to do with self esteem. I'm especially vulnerable to bouts of not eating when I'm feeling unhappy about my weight. I feel that if I stop eating I'll lose weight. Intellectually I know that I'll only lose weight if I eat healthy and exercise more. But there are times where logic loses out to emotions.
The longest I went without food was three days. That was when I was a teenager. Someone noticed and sat with me until I ate a full meal. Then I was watched to make sure I ate. I still skipped meals when I could. Usually I could skip breakfast and lunch while I was in school since my parents never paid attention to breakfast and lunch was easy since no one else around me cared. I was chunky in high school too, and people thought I was smart for skipping lunch because of my weight. I'd only eat dinner because that was the one meal my parents controlled.
Eating disorders are nothing to consider as a passing phase. They can lead to a person's death. You need help. If you know someone who has one, talk to them. Encourage them. Try to give them as much support as you can. If you can, talk them into getting help. Tell them to talk to their doctors. Don't tear them down about their appearance. Don't tell them you wish you were as thin as they were. Don't tell them they're fat and need to lose weight. Just support them as they come to a place where they can resolve their issues.