I am forever writing notes on topics God gives me to share with you. It’s not uncommon for me to write these ideas on my hands, gum wrappers, receipts, napkins, and the list goes on! I can be in a movie or at my kitchen table praying for you, and I’ll have to start writing as soon as I can get to my computer so that I can share my heart with you. God means for us to draw near to Him and sometimes “huddle” together and learn in the midst of our problems and trials. We teach one another. I am frequently asked what it’s like to have anorexia and fear the effects of the very sustenance which keeps me alive… the very thing God made for us to nourish ourselves. It is so hard to explain, and I often fumble over my words when trying to describe a meal or day to someone. Though I live it, so many don’t, and they struggle to understand the fact that eating disorders seek to end lives. I’ve never been ‘called’ to convince others that this mental illness exists. I don’t have the energy to, quite honestly. But, I do feel like God has called me to inform you about what I have learned and am living. I am one who knows eating disorder and chemical depression, and I know the path He has me on to healing.
I was recently intrigued me when my youngest daughter showed me a post of things which I believe to be very true about eating disorders. Unfabricated yet not understated truths. I guess I’ve hesitated to continue to share because I never want to over stay my welcome in your life about what I deal with on a daily basis. I know you deal with such important things, my friend, and sometimes there is a gap in understanding when we so badly want to “get” each other. It’s less lonely in our community when we gain knowledge and truth about one another. Having prefaced this information with my heart’s desire, here are “9 Truths About Eating Disorders That May Surprise You”, according to the National Eating Disorder Association from early 2016. “Knowledge is power”, so let’s look at these facts.
Truth No.1: Many people with eating disorders look healthy, yet may be extremely ill.
Truth No.2: Families are not to blame and can be patients’ and providers’ best allies in treatment.
Truth No.3: An eating disorder diagnosis is a health crisis that disrupts personal and family functioning.
Truth No. 4: Eating Disorders are not choices, but serious biologically influenced illnesses.
Truth No. 5: Eating Disorders affect people of all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, body shapes, and weight, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses.
Truth No.6: Eating Disorders carry an increased risk for suicide and medical complications.
Truth No. 7: Genes and environment play important roles in the development of eating disorders
Truth No. 8: Genes alone do not predict who will develop eating disorders.
Truth No. 9: Full recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Early detection and intervention are important.
Without knowledge, it’s so easy to misspeak innocently. We mean to speak in love, so give others the benefit of a doubt and know their heart means well. So, what do we say? None of us fully know the magnitude of another’s struggle, but I can speak to what I’ve been asked frequently concerning one who has been in inpatient eating disorder treatment and inpatient treatment for depression. With both, consider asking how the person is that day. Fighting a battle is one moment, one day at a time…nothing more. More is too much. Tell them how courageous they are for fighting their battle.
With eating issues, try to steer clear of external comments about appearance. It’s too sensitive and the person wants to believe they have more to offer than their appearance, especially when one has had to gain weight and then live in a society that desperately strives to lose weight. Some anorexics and bulimics will never get to exercise again after treatment and the re-feeding process. Moderation just seems impossible, so exercise abuse is common. Therefore, exercise is often not a part of the life of someone with this history. It’s tough! Putting on “nutrition” and feeling like this new body is foreign, then knowing you can’t handle moderate exercise to tone the new body, is stressful at the very least. At times, even limited exercise is one of the reasons for relapse. Sometimes the body has just undergone too much abuse for extensive exercise. This is my reality currently. So again, physical comments to an eating disorder patient, more than not, sends a different message than the friend intends and you as the friend will not be able to dig them out of the emotional spiral that appearance words may trigger. Man. It’s tough, isn’t it? We all mean so well but sickness makes words translate differently. My mind easily gets lost in translation. Be patient! Your words can be like a healing balm with just a little guidance from those God puts in your life, and from God Himself. He always says the right words.
The more common of the two is depression. Words of godly affirmation may seem to not be received well, but I promise you that it helps and it is truly the opposite of what my mind is telling me. You can only do so much, but the biggest word of advice I can give to us, is to not give up on someone who is desperately trying not to give up on himself. Encourage the person to be consistent in getting their professional help so that you can stay in friend status. Example, a lot of my days, a strong hug is so healing. I go through life feeling like I’ve got a bad “sunburn” emotionally, and the depression and anorexia want to steal all God has for me like someone “poking” my sunburn all day. Hugs and words of encouragement about the hope and future God has for me are hopeful and soothing. It takes love and character to handle struggles with courage and integrity and obedience. Recovery isn’t perfect! God chooses to look into and love our hearts, especially when we seek Him. Even in the midst of your own fight, seek to encourage another. This is one reason why I write. It’s just not only about me! I try…most days, to trust that as I reach out to others, that He’s taking care of me and mine. Ask God for His guidance, and reach out. Finally and personally, when a friend says nothing to me, I feel invisible and I don’t need help with that. I’m trying with all the strength God gives me to be present. Remember my verse? It’s a great and bold one to share because it evokes a commitment, “I will not die, but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.”( Psalm 118.17)
Let’s ask God to give us words of hope, and the courage to be in one another’s lives.
Thank you for letting me share my heart. Thank you for hanging with me in this while I qualified the reason behind sharing this writing. I just never want to belittle you as my friends, on whatever path God has you and me on. This format of post is atypical for me, but God wants us to lift each other up as we learn more about one another. We are not ignorant people! We just need some direction to reach out, especially when we have no idea where to start. I sure do! God has had this on my heart… and this is what I wanted you to know.
Love to You!