what causes an eating disorder

before i was diagnosed with anorexia, i thought it was a condition for self-obsessed girls who only cared about their looks and social status. i thought it was caused by a need for male attention and a desire to fit into runway clothes. i thought it was something that could be cured by “just eating”.

the harsh reality is that none of that is true. we don’t CHOOSE to have eating disorders. we don’t CHOOSE to starve ourselves close to death. we don’t CHOOSE to look in the mirror and see fat when all that’s left is bones.

that’s something most people don’t understand. they don’t understand that an eating disorder is a disease, not a choice. so naturally that brings up the question: what causes an eating disorder?

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what i learned in treatment is that it’s different for everyone but can be: sexual abuse or rape,  deep seated insecurities, domestic abuse, any kind of traumatic experience, depression, family issues, genetics, weight problems as a child, pressure in sports or a hobby like ballet that emphasizes body shape, or OCD/anxiety.

what is often overlooked is that the eating disorder is not the main problem. usually the eating disorder is simply how we cope with a deeper issue. which is what makes treating eating disorders so difficult. because you have to get to the root of the REAL problem and resolve that before you even begin to fix the damage (both physical and emotional) of the eating disorder. and often, the real problem is a combination of multiple experiences, making it even harder to fix.

i think that was the biggest struggle for me when i first started individual therapy in treatment. i simply assumed they would help me with my eating issues and i’d pass with flying colors, be discharged and live happily ever after.

unfortunately that wasn’t the case as i quickly learned my anorexia was a physical manifestation of bigger things i was struggling with. once we addressed and worked through those, i was able to really start seeing the positive effects of recovery.

it’s important to realize that an eating disorder is not a vain attempt to be hot. it may sometimes seem that way, but 99% of the time there is much more than meets the eye.

so don’t judge the withdrawn girl who can’t “just eat”. don’t judge her for feeling fat. because she is most likely struggling in ways you can’t even imagine and needs only your grace, support and love.

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