Have a friend with an eating disorder? Be open-minded and supportive. They need your support and positivity. As a sufferer I can tell you we’re already overflowing with negativity. We are our own worst enemies and the voices in our heads are constantly treating us like crap. I put together a list of ways you can avoid being a dick to your eating disordered friends. Obviously no sufferer is the same, and I’m speaking entirely from my own point of view, so if you have an ED and have different opinions or things to add, feel free to share!
1. Don’t tell them about a diet you’re on.
They’ve probably already tried it, twice. But you really shouldn’t be telling us how to eat. Chances are, the ED sufferer knows all about what works, but that’s not going to stop them bingeing/purging.
2. Don’t interrogate them on their eating habits.
It’s extremely humiliating for us, and we’re probably not going to be 100% honest with you, because we fear you will judge us. Which brings me to my next point.
3. Do NOT make us feel ashamed of ourselves by telling us to “Stop eating crap”.
We’re already ashamed of it, more than you could ever imagine. We don’t want to confess that we binge eat, and then be hit with the most condescending comments telling us what we already know. In fact, it makes me want to kill myself. Sorry for another mention of suicide, but this shit is REALLY damaging.
4. Don’t tell us we’re lazy.
We’re not lazy, we have a compulsion. Usually it’s because we can’t deal with intense emotions in an effective way. Bulimics & binge-eaters binge, because we have gotten into the habit of eating when upset. It’s similar to people who shout when they are angry. We are no more lazy than people without an ED.
5. Don’t tell us we’re “not skinny enough” to have an ED.
This is why I hate the medical system. Eating disorders are mental illnesses, not physical. Sure, some people lose weight with an ED, but that’s because they are using certain habits to cope with how they feel. Overweight or underweight, our inner struggle is just the same. The only difference is some of us binge, while others fast & purge. Both are unhealthy. And all we hear is “Not skinny enough”, which puts more pressure on us to lose weight, increasing our self hatred and destructive behaviours.
6. And for God’s sake, don’t tell us we’re fat.
This just makes you look like a dick.
I know fat doesn’t mean ugly, but when a stranger fat shames you on the street you can’t help but feel like shit. If we are fat, we are well aware of the fact, and if we’re not, we’re going to think we are anyway. I am fat, and trying to learn to like myself. But since I fit the stupid inaccurate ‘unfit binge-eating stereotype’, it makes me feel like shit.
So there you have it. I’m sure it was all common knowledge, but I was in a bit of a ranty mood.