I'm Miserable With my Eating and Myself, but I Don't Think I Have a Real Eating Disorder. Should I Bother an Expert?
anonymous Asks ...
I have been struggling with what I believe to be an eating disorder for many years now, but everything I research about different types of eating disorders doesn't seem to fit me. I am afraid to get help, because I don't know if I actually qualify as having an eating disorder, because I am at a healthy weight. I am now 22 years of age, but I have struggled with my body image and eating habits all my life. When I was younger, I was diagnosed with childhood obesity. Now that I am older I am now at a healthy weight for my height, 5'7 and 140 pounds. However, I struggle every day with my eating habits. I began to make myself purge my food when I was in about 14. I don't have to do it after every meal, its more of if I eat too much, or if I eat unhealthy. Some days I have better control than others, and for a couple of years I was able to stop. For the past year and a half, however, I have started to purge more frequently, and I know the dangers of this behavior, but I can't seem to stop. I don't eat massive amounts of food though either. I try to eat as least as I can, but also as healthy as I can. I feel such a relief after I purge, but I hate that I have to do it or else I feel so guilty and like I can actually feel the fat being added to my body. I can't stand the thought of ever being fat again, and I am so tired of constantly worrying about what I eat and how my body looks and my thoughts constantly being consumed with food. I don't know what to do because I don't know if I would actually be considered as having an eating disorder or not. I know something isn't right, but I just don't know what.
William Anderson Says ...
Don't get hung up on labels.
The names that clinicians come up with for conditions (diagnoses like Eating Disorder, Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder) and made-up names they use to easily communicate the collection of symptoms that a patient has. It's not like a there is a disease that exists called "Bulimia Nervosa" where you "catch it" and then have that disorder, like when you catch the Bird Flu virus and then get Bird Flu. Behavioral or Mental Health Diagnoses are, for the majority of disorders, just ways to describe the type of unpleasant or unhealthy experience the patient has.
In fact, the main feature of any behavior that makes it a disorder is that it causes suffering. If everything were in order, everything would be fine and happy, there would be no suffering. The fact that you are unhappy is enough to talk to somebody about it. You are tormented by your eating behavior and thoughts and feelings about yourself and your body. That's enough to make it very important that you talk to an expert in these things and get some relief from your struggle and suffering. You've had too much already. You don't need an "Eating Disorder" label, though you'll get one, if only to get the insurance to pay for the counseling.
All of the problems you describe are the things that Eating Disorder experts help people with. Find one and get some help. You will be amazed at how much they will know about what you are going through and how much they can help. You do not need to suffer alone another day longer. If you are in a small town, you may have to look in a larger city, but look for counselors or psychotherapists who specialize in Eating Disorders. Call and make an appointment. You'll be feeling better before you know it.
Please do this now. I have lots of experience with these types of problems, and while the outcomes are great when people get help, things often get worse without it. Things never stay exactly as they are. So, take action, call and make an appointment to get some help. Do everything you can to make things change for the better rather than get worse, and have a very Happy New Year!