National Eating Disorders Association

When it comes to treating eating disorders, one of the most important steps is receiving a diagnosis. That diagnosis informs what type of treatment and what level of care (e.g., outpatient, day treatment, hospitalization) are needed to treat the current symptoms. One challenge, however, is that eating disorders often go undetected and people may struggle for years before receiving a diagnosis and specialty treatment.

Leah Stiles is a retired U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer. Since her retirement from the Navy in 2021, she has been raising awareness of eating disorders in the military and the need for insurance coverage and resources for service members, retirees and their family members. Below she discusses her struggle with an eating disorder that began when she was 12 years old and was exacerbated by career and personal demands.

It was only once I recovered from my eating disorder that I began to understand its gravity. I kept some journal entries, various gems left to be uncovered in the margins of my planner, nuggets of wisdom to be siphoned from my notes app of those years. I was in college, but it probably started before that. It’s no coincidence that I don’t actually know what came first: my eating disorder or my queer awakening. I revisited those archives: the journal entries, notes, nuggets, and scrawls, and tied them together into this list.