National Eating Disorders Association

Editor's Note - CW: Physical/Mental Abuse 

I have debated back and forth about writing this because it could be shared with thousands of people. I have always been ashamed of my story but I think it’s now the right time to share it. I hope even a single part of this will spark someone else to own their story as well. 

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I didn’t choose to have an eating disorder, but rather an eating disorder decided to choose me. Years ago, my “innocent” diet crossed a line from disordered eating to a full-blown eating disorder. I didn’t realize that I had a biological predisposition to an eating disorder or that there was a psychological component. As a successful corporate career executive juggling infants/toddlers (with a traveling husband), while also caring for aging parents with significant health issues, my environment made for the perfect storm which led me down a road to anorexia.

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I started believing that I was broken and unworthy as an infant. I wasn't thin enough, I wasn't smart enough, I wasn't attractive enough, I just wasn't enough, period. I developed a full-blown eating disorder when I was 14 years old.  

For most of my life, I let a cold, black and white metal scale dictate my worth. I stepped on and off of the scale throughout my childhood, my adolescence, and my early adulthood. I let an ambiguous number dictate how I felt about myself.   

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Editor's Note: The decision to fast or not is a personal decision between individuals, their medical providers, and spiritual leaders. NEDA recognizes the complexity of this decision and encourages those who celebrate to observe the holiday in the best way for you.

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This blog post is sponsored by The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt.

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One of my professors, on the first day of class, pulled up on the projector a list of 50 words. Authenticity; Justice; Integrity; Inner Harmony; Productivity; Independence; Love; Family.  

Core values. Values that highlight what we stand for, that guide our behaviors and our decisions and our actions. Values that guide our lives.   

“I want you to take a few moments,” my professor said, “and read over these words. Think about them and what they mean to you; what they evoke in you. And then write down your top ten.” 

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I was 22 when I was a diagnosed with an eating disorder, although my eating disorder tendencies began long before then. Like many other courageous individuals, I sought treatment, even though I was in complete denial. Unlike many others, I did not have an abundant circle filled with support; people with whom I could speak openly and candidly about the difficulties, fears, and sorrows of the recovery process. 

And, as I recover, I am learning that my story is different. And that is SO okay. 

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My dad didn’t know what to do to help me with my eating disorder.  

So, he did what he’s really good at and passed along some numbers: (800) 931-2237 (He’s an engineer.) I still have that handwritten piece of paper. Thank you, Dad.  

Calling those ten digits for help was a huge leap of faith. At that point in my life, no one knew I had an eating disorder except for my parents and the boyfriend who made me tell them (Now, I can say thanks to him, too.). 

I am not telling anyone else. 

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Thank you to Eating Recovery Center for sponsoring this blog post in conjunction with Eating Recovery Day on May 7, 2019. 

Dear Me– 

I know, it’s been a while since we’ve talked. I mean, really talked. Not just “What do you want to watch on Netflix?” talk, feelings talk. 

Checking in with yourself” talk.

Remembering your worth” talk. 

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Hi, everyone! My name is Ali, and I’ve been a fat activist for quite a while now. So, what am I doing here, on an eating disorder organization’s blog, talking about fat people stuff?

Well, I think of fat people stuff and eating disorder stuff like chocolate and peanut butter—they just kind of go together. Sure, we can talk about them separately, but why should we? Especially when some people can relate to BOTH.

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