I wanted to talk about how it feels to experience different mental health problems, so I decided to do a little series where I’ll be talking about depression, mania, anorexia and OSFED. This is the final post in the series from me, where I’m talking about OSFED.
OSFED means Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder, and was previously known as ED-NOS; Eating Disoder Not Otherwise Specified. This essentially encompasses atypical forms of more well known eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, and also some more newly classified disorders like purging disorder.
This is the category I have found myself falling into the most over the course of my eating disorder, having been diagnosed with atypical anorexia and purging disorder at different times. I’d say that I’ve personally found it harder being in this zone than when I’ve fulfilled the criteria for a diagnosis of anorexia. Essentially, this is where I’ve sat when my weight hasn’t met the anorexia threshold yet.
That’s what makes it so hard being in this place. My last post in this series was about anorexia, and everything I said there applies to this post too. However, when you have an OSFED diagnosis, you have the added element of not ticking all the boxes. There’s several problems with this, one of which is that it can present barriers to treatment. This isn’t always the case, and services are getting better at recognising this now, but it’s a sad truth that if you don’t fit the mould, you might miss out. This leads me to the biggest difficulty with this diagnosis – not feeling good enough. It’s true that not feeling good enough is a symptom of all eating disorders. However, fitting into an OSFED diagnosis has all the feelings of inadequacy that go along with anorexia, but they are tenfold. You’re not actually anorexic. You’re genuinely not thin enough. You’re not sick enough. You’re not good enough at being disordered. This is magnified by the fact that services do not always respond to people that don’t meet the thresholds – you’re not sick enough for treatment. I’ve been very fortunate in that when I have had OSFED diagnoses in the past, I’ve been offered therapy; not everyone is so lucky.
Essentially, living with OSFED is truly horrible and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It’s a silent battle because often no one can tell that you’re struggling, and there is a huge amount of shame about sharing that you have an eating disorder without being thin. But all eating disorders are valid. You don’t have to be thin to be sick. Your struggles are yours and actually, most people with an eating disorder fall into the OSFED category. If this is you, please know that you are not alone, and that you are worthy of help, support and most of all, recovery.
This is the last post from me in this series. However, I’m hoping that there might be some guest posts in this series too at some point so that I can share the experiences of other mental health problems with you all.
Thank you all so much for reading, and I hope that this series has helped shed some light on the realities of mental illness.