TW: eating disorders, in-patient treatment, etc.
The topic of the romanticisation of eating disorders in the media has been extensively written about. However, I’ve recently observed another resurgence of this–especially a glorification of mental illnesses in general, and more specifically a normalisation of disordered eating.
I’ve been out of residential eating disorder treatment for almost two years now. For the first few months after my discharge, the memories of my experience remained desperately vivid in my mind. I couldn’t forget about what I had been through for even a moment, no matter how hard I tried. I think that this greatly aided in my recovery, as the genuinely harrowing ordeal I had undergone forced me to grasp the life-or-death reality of the situation. I became irrevocably committed to getting better.
Yet, with distance and time, memories can fade. I will always be aware of the horrors of EDs on a subconscious level, but sometimes I forget the full extent of the damage they are capable of causing. I don’t think this is necessarily an issue–I want to live a happy life free of my ED, and constantly being reminded of a terrible experience doesn’t really aid in that endeavor. But the resurgence of “normalizing” disordered eating is a dangerous place for those in recovery. It physically hurts to see individuals (often impressionable teens) in the comments of social media posts encouraging each other’s ED behaviors or promoting unhealthy comparisons.
People need to be reminded that eating disorders–and mental illnesses in general–are in no way “beautiful”. It pains me to even have to point out such a blatantly obvious fact. Anorexia Nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder, and other EDs are just as dangerous. Being sick is not glamorous, and being in recovery does not make you weak. Quite the contrary: actively choosing to recover is empowering. To be fighting such debilitating disorders makes you one of the strongest individuals in existence.
Eating disorders are a scary thing. They can creep up and alter your perceptions without you even realizing it. I think that everyone needs a reminder–especially in the social media-infused landscape we live in–that EDs are not worth it in the slightest.
DISORDERED EATING IS NOT NORMAL OR OKAY. You deserve help and treatment, regardless of what your inner voice might tell you. Your struggles are valid.