National Eating Disorders Association

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Afraid to ask for help...?

I started seeing a therapist last year and we've been talking about my issues with food for a quite long time, but I feel like they are not getting any better. I am not overweight or underweight, and never was, because I either binge or starve myself. I really couldn't take it anymore, so I told my teacher about it, and she told me I could go to a treatment center, where they are specialized, and where I can also have a nutritionist, so that my body can have everything it needs while I recover. Now, from the moment I decided to talk to my teacher, I keep thinking it's not that bad, I'm not so sick... however, I told my therapist about it, and she said she thinks going to a treatment center wouldn't solve the problem. I don't really know what to do, I keep thinking I don't deserve treatment because my weight is normal, I am not so sick, I'm still physically healthy, apart from irregular periods. And I'm also scared, because I would have to talk to my parents, who don't understand (I already tried talking to them, but they just told me I'm fine because my weight is normal and because I don't purge), and even if they did, they'd probably start controlling what and how much I eat, and it scares me because deep down I want to lose weight. Moreover, I can't imagine how I would be without an eating disorder, it makes me feel somehow sure, because I really feel like a failure at everything, and this is the only thing I could control, and it also distracts me from everything else.
It's like my eating disorder doesn't want me to get better so it tells me I don't need/deserve help, and I'm starting believing it. Is it normal?


Hello and welcome to the forum. I am sorry you have gotten conflicting information. That can be frustrating and confusing. As for not feeling sick enough, this is such a common thought among those suffering with an eating disorder I think it should be part of the criteria, denial or inability to recognize need of help despite the thoughts, beliefs and behaviors being used. Eating disorders are so much more about food and how much one weighs. It doesn't matter if your weight is within "normal" limits. Gaining and losing like you are is very stressful on your body. And the emotional roller coaster it puts you in. The fact that you stated that you "need" the eating disorder because you are good at it and not at anything else is a lie from the eating disorder. It wants you to believe that. It is important to find out things you are good at. And to figure out what purpose the eating disorder is serving. You may have to try new things and investigate different things to find out what you enjoy or like. The eating disorder takes up so much mind space it is difficult to think of anything you might want to try, that is how it was for me. I didn't think I was good at anything. But I am good at working with the elderly. I am taking a risk and taking a class at my local community college. I am scared because I don't think I will pass it, but I am trying. So for you, you may need to take some risks to find out what things you like to do apart from the eating disorder. You don't want to have to deal with the disorder, the mental anguish, the damage it does to your body, even if labs come in normal or your weight is within normal limits. Don't like the word normal. But frequent fluctuations is harmful to your body. The binging and restricting are signs that something else is going on, and that is what your therapist and you need to work on figuring out. You can be someone apart for the eating disorder. I depersonalize the disorder by never saying "my" eating disorder, or "your" eating disorder on purpose to make sure it doesn't take on a personality or its own. You are separate from the eating disorder. It doesn't own you. The more you start becoming independent of the eating disorder the less you will need it. I understand needing to have the eating disorder, and having it define me and who I was. But it was all a lie. I am now free from the eating disorders that plagued my life for thirty years. I am living my life and working through difficult situations and facing some fears that the eating disorder prevented me from facing because while I was using behaviors, I had to talk about those and the real issues never got talked about. So now I am able to talk about the painful stuff that caused me to turn to needing an eating disorder to function, but it nearly took my life.

I say all of this to say that even if your weight is considered in the healthy range, if you are using behaviors, and if you feel you "need" the eating disorder, it will be difficult to recover. You need to get to the point where you don't want it anymore. And this doesn't happen overnight. It is a process. It takes time. And you have to find something to replace it with. My faith in Jesus and involvement with my church helps me. I love dogs and as I said will be trying to take a course at my local community college.

I hope some of what I said was helpful. Please if you want let me know what you think and I am glad you reached out and posted.

Take care,

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