This post is part of the mini series ‘Myths vs Realities’, in which I hope to explore some of the misconceptions around mental illness and right some of the wrongs.
This first post is about eating disorders as it is Eating Disorders Awareness Week. I’ve written about eating disorders before, talking about how it feels to have anorexia and OSFED, what a day with anorexia is like, why recovery is worthwhile and challenging stereotypes.
Myth: You must be underweight to have an eating disorder.
Fact: Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes and anorexia is actually the least common. Most people are likely to be a healthy weight and some are even overweight. You cannot tell if somebody has an eating disorder by looking at them.
Myth: Only girls get eating disorders.
Fact: Eating disorders do not discriminate and year on year more men are being affected. They can affect anybody of any gender, race, age or sexuality.
Myth: Eating disorders mean you don’t like/aren’t interested in food.
Fact: When you have an eating disorder it is likely that it’s all you think about. I spent hours reading recipes, watching cooking shows, baking foods that I would either never eat or eat all in one go in secret. People with eating disorders are often very anxious about food, but it doesn’t mean they don’t like it.
Myth: Eating disorders are attention seeking.
Fact: Eating disorders are more often than not incredibly secretive illnesses. Personally the last thing I wanted was for other people to find out and I was horrified when they did, and I know other people feel this way too.
Myth: Eating disorders are a choice.
Fact: Whilst it is true that the physical decision to eat or not eat something is ours, the thoughts and feelings that arise as a result are not. Often, it’s just doesn’t feel worth the trade off to eat but then experience all those terrible thoughts and feelings afterwards. They are horrible, torturous illness and nobody would make the choice to go through one.
I hope this has helped clear up some of the common misconceptions, and if you have any questions please do ask me! I’m always happy to raise any awareness where I can.
Do you have a mental health problem and want to challenge the stereotypes? Contact me and let me know if you want to contribute to the series.