Hunger: My Battle With Anorexia

empty plate with note I'M NOT HUNGRY

This piece is part of our Darkest Day series, a collection of stories from people who’ve made it through the worst of their illness and now light the way for others.

It’s 7am and I’ve already burned 1,000 calories on the elliptical. I’m packing up my food for the day. Breakfast is 113 calories for 3 egg whites and 1 cup of grapes. Lunch will be 131 calories for turkey, mustard, lettuce, and baby carrots. I’ve also packed 1 pack of Parliament Lights, 4 Diet Cokes, 1 gallon of water, and 1 brand new pack of bubblemint gum. I’ll have dance class in the afternoon, which takes care of another 300 or so calories. Dinner is always a wild card –– it depends on who’s around and how carefully I’m being watched. I have food saved in my room for later just in case. I am 16 years old and 70 pounds; I am a human calorie counter and numbers genius who, ironically, is also struggling in Pre-Calculus.

Looking back, it’s hard to pinpoint a clear start for all of this. Unlike an alcoholic who can often describe their first drink, there was no concrete “first.” My eating disorder was a physical manifestation of a longtime underlying condition. It was some combination of perfectionism, extreme sensitivity, fear, and ironically enough a hunger –– a hunger for love, acceptance, validation. A hunger for everything. That hunger felt unmanageable so instead of learning how to experience it, I taught myself how to stop it, to cut it off, to starve it out. If you don’t want anything, you can never get hurt, right? Continue reading Hunger: My Battle With Anorexia

How Therapy Subtly Reveals Whether You Have an Eating Disorder

woman client on couch with therapist

As a therapist who specializes in eating disorders and body image issues, I have worked with clients who begin therapy and — as they make progress — show signs of having an eating disorder. This doesn’t happen in an obvious way, though. To make the diagnosis, I analyze what they’re saying and look for subtle signs.

To illustrate this point, I am going to share two different client scenarios below. Each of them may seem like a typical case of anxiety, mild depression and struggles with self-confidence and lack of happiness. With a closer look through the lens of an eating disorder therapist, these two stories take on different meanings. Continue reading How Therapy Subtly Reveals Whether You Have an Eating Disorder

Eating Disorders: A Story of Awareness

asian woman depressed steps

– by Katie Colton

I had the opportunity to work at a clinical research lab with a young woman who suffered from bulimia nervosa. She said no one close to her knew she had an eating disorder because she had an average body weight and only binged or purged when she was alone.

She was happy no one knew about her disorder but simultaneously hoped someone would notice what she was going through and try to help. She felt both proud and ashamed of what she was doing to her body and had trouble admitting she had a problem. Continue reading Eating Disorders: A Story of Awareness