- Claire McKenna
In my blogs, I have talked about how people’s comments can be so dangerous for those suffering with eating disorders and other forms of mental health difficulties.
The most distressing comments I endure that have the biggest effect on me is on the lines of ‘you don’t look like you have anorexia’, ‘you’d never think by looking at you… you eat enough though don’t you…?”
Yes. You may have seen me eat and it may not have been just a plate of lettuce leaves. You might look at me and be aware that I don’t look malnourished or emaciated anymore.
But, you don’t see the constant battle inside that is happening every day of my life.
You don’t see the struggle and anxiety I feel before facing a meal and how much my head is telling me not to eat it.
You don’t see my terrified thoughts and how daunted I am to put that food near my mouth.
You can’t see anorexia screaming so loudly at me to not eat, telling me I am fat and this next meal is going to make me even bigger and how everyone thinks I am greedy.
You don’t see me after meals hating myself for what I’ve just put inside me, or trying to fight the urge to get rid of it and feel ‘empty’ again.
You don’t see me standing in front of the mirror, hardly able to open my eyes because I’m so mortified, distressed and repulsed by what stands in front of me!
You can’t see how alone and inadequate I feel or my desperation to get rid of the excess fat from every part of my body.
You don’t see me when I feel obese and can’t allow myself to sit down because I know you burn more calories standing rather than sitting or lying down.
This is because anorexia is a MENTAL illness not a physical illness, just like you can’t tell by looking at someone if they have depression, PTSD, OCD, Bipolar etc.
Being told you don’t look like you have an eating disorder just sends the message that one needs to do more to lose weight or that they are ‘not ill enough’ to have an eating disorder or receive treatment/support.
Each time I hear the words ‘you don’t look anorexic’, my instinct is to plan how from that moment on what meals I will skip, how much extra exercise I should do. I can’t put my finger on why it does this, but it just does. That one comment can put a halt in my recovery and send me backwards, upsetting all the hard work I’ve done to get where I am now. This is because eating disorders are fatal mind games.
Therefore, it is so important that people are aware of how comments can create distress and trigger individuals. The only way people will understand this is by being educated on the matter, in which I have created this blog.
Hi, I'm Claire. I have recently just graduated with a first class honours in BA Education at the University of Birmingham. I currently write my own blog to try and raise awareness of mental health and remove the unhelpful stigmas that are often attached. I wanted to share some of these blogs and write for Student Minds as I have been suffering with Anorexia and depression for over 8 years.
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, there is help and support out there. Visit the Student Minds support page where you can find more information and places to go for help.
Visit support page here.