National Eating Disorders Association

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Where Do I Start???

Hi, my name is Zoe, I am a college student, and I suffer from anorexia nervosa. I have struggled with various forms of ED since puberty, but within the past year I have become very sick. My clothes that used to fit tight are falling off me. I am dizzy and tired and cold all the time. I finally admitted to my therapist two weeks ago that I have a problem because I have noticed that I am bruising very easily and having menstrual problems. Since none of my family or friends know I have an eating disorder, she told me I should join an online forum and talk to some other people who know what I am going through.
I don't know where to start with this whole "recovery" thing. I want to get better, but at the same time, I am really scared to let go. I don't know what else to say. I am worried about how my family, friends, and boyfriend will react. I am horrified of gaining any weight, but I don't want to die or have serious medical complications. If I lose any more weight I am going to have to go to the doctor's once a week to be weighed. But they won't be allowed to tell me how much I weigh, they will just report it to my therapist. Next week, I have my first doctor's appointment in about a year. I am scared of what they are going to tell me. What if I'm more sick than I thought? Will they tell me how much I weigh?
Part of me is ready to be the healthy, fun-loving, active, carefree person I once was. But I start crying anytime I think about eating again. My therapist had me create a "recovery journal", full of pictures of my friends and family, inspirational quotes, and pictures of me when I was happy at a healthy weight. It's been a fun project and I think it will be good to inspire me when I am having rough days with recovery. But right now, recovery just seems like a fantasy or dream for my future, something that I want, but is just not an attainable goal.
If anyone has any advice for beginning recovery or wants to share their personal story of their recovery, please share. I need some inspiration right now. Lots of love to you all.


Hi and welcome to the forum. It takes a lot of courage to post on a forum like this and I admire your courage. I am sorry for your suffering. I know it well. I will tell you a little about my story. When I was sixteen, I was first hospitalized for anorexia. I had to go through this twenty seven times over the next thirty plus years. I started engaging in self harm, and that was another reason for my hospitalizations. I was scared so much of the time and so stuck in the disorders. I also developed bulimia and overeating. I thought I was safe in my world of sickness. Thought it would keep me from growing up and facing the big bad world. Only now do I realize that this isn't true. It only made my life painful and limited me from living a life most people my age lived. I am therefore turning 51 next month and am socially behind. Many people are doctors, teachers, mothers, you name it. I am on disability and work part time as a home health aide. I love my job and love the elderly, but I am fearful of working any other job. Part of the reason is I have memory problems and it makes it near impossible to work someplace else. I know I need to work on this as it hold me back. From being able to branch out. But I am doing things I never thought I could before. I am hosting a Bible study at my house, and work thirteen hours a week and really do do a lot of normal things for my age. Okay, rabbit trail. I always said I wanted to get better but didn't want to gain weight. The two can not coexist. We have to come to accept that recovery from anorexia means giving up the control we have over food, and what we eat and what we weigh. It means getting rid of clothes that don't fit that are a size we will not fit into as we gain weight. Some people don't want to get rid of these clothes because they may fit into them again one day. This is a recipe for disaster because if we are really wanting recovery we aren't going to want to fit back into what are called sick clothes. I went through periods of bulimia and almost died from both the anorexia and the bulimia. It is because of my faith in Jesus and the love of my parents that I am alive today. My user name, I want to live, iwanttolive, is indicative of how much I have changed. I wanted to die so much and hoped the eating disorder would cause it. And it can. Almost did. Several times. Under the section for parents here I wrote for mothers. I spoke of how the eating disorder affected my mother. To make a very long story shorter, I was able to be open to my therapist and share things I never thought I could or would, acknowledged that even though I said I wanted to get better, I really didn't. When I was really ready to get better, I was able to and Jesus was a big part of how that happened. I surrendered my fears to Him, asked Him for His help, and I used the skills taught to me from therapy and the Bible. As long as I had the eating disorder, I never thought I could get better, but I did. I have been in recovery from the anorexia for around three years and it has been five months from the overeating and self harm. But it is real. I am different. I am not afraid of food. I used to be afraid to eat one small item. I do not scrutinize what I am served and what I eat. I have freedom. I am enjoying my life, even though there are a lot of stressful things I face each day. I deal with anxiety and some depression but know that one day these too will be gone. For now I get help to deal with these. Recovery is possible. Having support, being honest, especially to yourself, and not giving up when it gets difficult will help you so much on your journey. And it is just that. A journey. Mine was a long one. It doesn't have to be that way for everyone. I hope it isn't for you. There will be a lot of ups and downs in recovery. But I call it a recovery muscle. The more we say no to behaviors or wanting to restrict or binge or whatever, the stronger our recovery muscle will get. Then it gets easier to say no. And to say yes. Those are important words. No and yes. No to the bad, yes to the good.

I will end here. I hope this helps. If you have more questions please ask. It is difficult to cover a lifetime in a single post. So I tried to cover the basics. I am living free from the eating disorder today and it is really wonderful. One more thing. I do not give the eating disorder a personality. I call it "it" or the but not my or mine. I am not the eating disorder. You are not the eating disorder. You are you, special and created for a reason. You are special. You are important. Believe it!!!



Welcome to the forum and congratulations on reaching out for help and taking the first step towards recovery. I struggled with both bulimia and anorexia for 34 years and have been in recovery for several months now. For me the scariest part of taking the step towards recovery was my fear of gaining weight. I avoided getting well for years because I thought it meant I had to accept being fat and I refused to let go of the control I had over food. I finally reached a point where I was scared because of increasing health problems and decided with the help of my therapist to enlist the advice of a dietitian because I didn't know what a healthy diet looked like anymore. I was given a food plan that scared me because it was three meals a day and I was sure it would make me gain excessive amounts of weight. I don't know why I decided to actually follow the meal plan or how my attitude shifted but I became willing to at least try. The most important part of this was my therapy because I needed help understanding that my struggle wasn't about food or weight. I started to deal with past trauma issues and quit believing that my problems revolved around my weight. I have been dealing with the core issues in my therapy which has helped me let go of my obsessive behaviors around food. As I continued to eat the way the dietitian suggested I had to learn to accept the changes my body was going through. Much to my surprise I did not gain huge amounts of weight and found that my body would stabilize at a healthy weight for me and my metabolism would start to work as it should. I have hard days where I want to restrict and struggle to accept that it's okay to feel full but I always remember that those fears are a smokescreen and most of all that they will pass if I don't react to them. I spent years obsessing about my weight and never imagined that I could find peace with my body and eat normally without worrying about gaining weight. I was at the point where I believed there was no hope for me to find recovery and that I would always have to live with ED behaviors because I was too scared of gaining weight. I took a chance and somehow decided to just try a different way of living and at first I thought I would only give it about a week but that I would restrict again if it was too much. But every week I committed to one more week and time started to go by and I continued to follow the food plan. I did gain weight but have stabilized and I am happy with my body now. I am still working hard in therapy to heal the pain that I avoided by engaging in ED behaviors but the freedom I feel from letting go of the ED is greater than the pain that comes up in therapy. I can stand up without feeling dizzy, my hair isn't falling out, my finger nails actually grow and I'm not freezing all day long. My body has healed at a rapid pace much to my surprise and I can think clearly at work again. I encourage you to get a support team and work with your therapist on the issues that drive your ED to take the focus off of your weight and food because this isn't really about that. Having the support of your family will help so much and maybe you can discuss this with them at some point. The more support you have the better because it doesn't work without the help of others. I tried for years to fix this on my own and wasted many years struggling on my own but it doesn't work. I'm writing this to tell you that there is hope and you can overcome your ED and it doesn't have to involve extreme weight gain like your mind might be telling you. There will be difficult days but it is worth it in the long run and it always gets better. I wish you the best of luck in your search for recovery and hope you will keep posting here for support.

Thank you <3

Thank you both for your comments and sharing your personal stories. It was really hard for me to be open and honest with my therapist about my behaviors but I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders when I did. I’m going to continue talking to her and trying to get to the root of my problems like you said! I do want to talk to my family and friends but I don’t really know how yet. I will probably have my therapist help me tell my dad because we are really close and I know he will have lots of worries and questions and I think having my therapist there to help explain would make it easier on everyone. I don’t think I’m going to get over my fear of gaining weight right away but it really has inspired me knowing that you two have recovered and made peace with your bodies and yourselves at a healthy weight. And I really needed a reminder that the weight gain isn’t really as bad as it seems in my head. I also have problems determining what a normal meal even looks like anymore. Even when I am feeling ambitious and attempt to eat it is just stressful and frustrating because I don’t know how to listen to my own body anymore. I am trying to just take it one step at a time... thank you so so much for taking the time to share your stories with me. I really like what you said about how my eating disorder is not who I am. I feel like I’ve been consumed by it. When I’m not thinking about food and losing weight I feel like I don’t know what to even do anymore. It takes up so much time and space in my head. You are both so strong. I hope that you continue to love and appreciate yourselves in your recovery journey. Thank you for being so kind and welcoming <3

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