The face of a disorder

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – What does somebody with an eating disorder look like? What does an eating disorder look like? A lot of people think of a teenage female frantically jogging in place as she stands in front of the mirror measuring her waist…and boy, is that far from the truth.

I have been living with an eating disorder for years now, seven years to be exact. And I am just beginning to take the steps to recovery. It all started when I was younger and I could never keep up with the other kids in my class. According to the label on my pants, I was husky, though that wasn’t the word they would use to describe me. Fatty, tub of lard, McDonalds and big belly are just a few nicknames that come to mind. Due to all of the constant bullying, I began to think that nobody wanted to be my friend because of the way I looked.

So that’s when my hatred towards food began. I began to skip out on lunch, or push food around my plate. I started to develop strange and horrible ways to hide the fact that I wasn’t eating. I began to run a lot and randomly do push-ups until I felt light headed throughout the day. I lost 40 pounds in one summer and I didn’t stop there.

The problem with eating disorders is that they build upon themselves and feed off of the positive compliments one receives. Everybody around me was telling me how proud they were, and how I looked so great. Because of this, those with eating disorders tend to suffer when nobody is looking, the struggle is invisible and it stays that way until we make a decision to get help. We live in a society where weight loss is often glamorized. This can be blamed on the media, on the fact that these “beautifully skinny model” stereotypes and “ripped action hero” idealisms are pushed upon us regularly through film, advertisements, etc.

To look at yourself and truly hate what you see is a horrible feeling that nobody should have to live with. I knew that if I kept doing the things I was doing, I would become increasingly sick, and I knew I had to make a change. I never got better, I just got “smarter.” I became obsessive with nutrition, I designed meals so that I only got the bare essentials, and I still worked out every day, getting to a point where running seven plus miles after school was a regular task. This is a newly diagnosed disorder that is being referred to as orthorexia. Though it was much safer than the alternative, I was still depriving my body of the nutrition and more importantly the love it not only needed, but deserved.

I am currently in recovery. I eat three-ish meals a day and I try to workout when I can. I go to class, I study hard, I hang out with friends and go on adventures. Everyday brings a new challenge, and everyday brings a new sense of pride when I overcome that obstacle which constantly hangs over my head. What does someone with an eating disorder look like? Well, being a 20 year old male… I think it’s safe to say, you never really know who else is struggling.

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