National Eating Disorders Association

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Two steps forward one step back

This is my first post and I actually just joined. I have been struggling with body image and an eating disorder for over a year now. It got pretty bad at one point, and the only reason I stopped purging was because I started to notice some side effects that really really scared me (mainly really short/irregular periods, but also irregular breathing, etc.). I don't really have anyone else to talk with. My friends don't understand and most of them don't know about my poor self image - some of the latter even joke about making themselves sick after eating. Like I said, I stopped purging, and I have been eating better and exercising. I feel like if I eat one bad meal or skip one day at the gym, though, that I will gain so much weight. I am also 6 ft tall and I hate it - I always feel gigantic. And people will use "big" synonymously with "tall". Somedays I feel really good and I'm like "to heck with my body image. I am who I am and I should love me for me." but then other days I'm like "no one will ever want to be with this. I am disgusting." I just don't know how to make those latter days fewer and far between. I did have a slip up last night. I just turned 21 and I'm afraid that drinking will make me gain a lot of weight. Not to mention alcohol and good decisions and positive self-image don't tend to go well together. Is anyone out there struggling with this? I just feel like I'm disgusting sometimes... I don't want to feel that way. I want to work my way towards recovery but somedays it feels like these feelings are never going to leave me alone. Does anyone have any suggestions? Or can anyone just relate? No one else seems to understand and I feel embarassed and ashamed talking about it because I am a Pre-med student and I know all the bad things that can happen from these unhealthy behaviors. But I can't help those feelings....

I guess I just want to know

I guess I just want to know how you commit to recovery when those feelings of disgust just seem like they will never leave you alone. I don't understand why some of my friends can eat whatever they want and never work out. I work my butt off and think I look disgusting. I just don't know how to go about changing the thoughts that just seem so ingrained and permanent at this point

HI there, I just recently

HI there, I just recently joined, too. Are you seeing a therapist or other professional for your struggles? It sounds like that could help a lot. From your post I think some sort of cognitive therapy could be really helpful. Learning to treat yourself more nicely takes a lot of practice. I would suggest that every time you catch yourself saying mean things to yourself, you metaphorically put a big STOP sign in your head. Then challenge that thought, replacing it with a more realistic and kind message to yourself. Would you call anyone else "disgusting"? That is harsh. And btw, lots of people would love to be tall. I guess the grass is always greener. I think it is great you have eased off on the purging. I hope you can continue to fight the behaviors and thoughts that could well potentially interfere with your studies and dreams.


Hi! Thank you for your response. I have tried seeing a few therapists, but none have really made a big difference, and they are also really expensive. I don't have the money to pay for them right now. I also get tired of having to retell my story over and over and over again. For a long time I was really hung up in the past, and I feel like I'm finally ready to put all my focus on the present and the future - I am afraid that going to someone new will cause me to relive things that I finally feel like I'm getting over. One did tell me that I don't celebrate any of the good things that I do and just beat myself up twice as much about every single one of the bad things. She said I need to see even the smallest things as a victory, like just getting to class on time or getting a good grade or not purging even if it's just for one meal. I did it for a while and then moved away from it but I will try and make a more conscious effort. The stop sign is a good idea! And you are right, I would absolutely never say that to a friend. I don't know why I am so much harder on myself than I would be on anyone else, but I've been this way ever since I can remember. I was the type of kid that would send myself to my room over a B on a test or put myself in time out for saying something mean. I also know a lot of people would like to be tall, and I suppose it does have it's advantages, but it's really hard to find a guy that is taller and it makes me feel unappealing sometimes. It just makes me feel less girly :-/

Thank you so much for listening, and for your support/encouragement! :-)

Perhaps if you can afford it,

Perhaps if you can afford it, a more here and now type therapy would help. Something like CBT or DBT primarily focus on present day thoughts and behaviors.
I think as for why to commit to recovery, that is a personal one. You have already identified the scary symptoms you have had bc of purging. What other reasons are there to be well and ED-free? My health suffered tremendously and permanently due to my eating disorder. My own list would also include things like the freedom from worry and shame, the cost (of binging) and the physical relief of not either starving or binging (more energy, etc.).
Before you worry or get into a serious relationship, I think it would be great to focus on yourself for a while. Having an eating disorder and a relationship at the same time is a challenge to say the least.

I will look into those

I will look into those options! I didn't know what they were at first but I looked them up and they sound like they would be really helpful for me. I also was told to try group therapy, have you ever done that? Do you think that would work? I think I am more committed to recovery than I was a couple of months ago for sure. I used to think that I was more comfortable being sad and self-pitying but once I stopped I realized how great it feels to be healthy. It's not a perfect system, there are still bad days but thankfully they are getting fewer and far between. I don't act on those bad thoughts as much as I used to. I did have a bad day when I made the first post but I am happy to say that was the first time in about a month in which I had a "slip-up". I agree with the relationship thing, and I think if I had started anything with anyone in the past year that it wouldn't have been good, but I feel like I am at a point now where I can start to open up to the idea. I am still working on self-image but I am getting a little better everyday. Somedays it just feels like one step forward and two steps back, like that first post, but t I can acknowledge that I have a problem which I think it a step in the right direction. I am sorry to hear about your own struggles, but congratulations on your journey towards recovery too! I think the hardest step is getting to this point and then thinking that a "slip-up" will send you straight back to the bottom. That's how I was feeling yesterday. There's just still some scarey days, even though they are getting fewer and far between like I said before. Sorry I talk so much, I'm just rambling now. It's just nice to be able to talk freely about it all.



You're not rambling at all. There's often a lot inside our heads that just needs to be released. Letting it all out is a lot more positive than holding it all inside. Letting it go is a definite step towards recovery.

I know exactly how you feel. On the bus yesterday, I could find something positive to say about everyone I saw around me (no matter what their shape was), yet I could not apply the same praise to myself. I guess I would say (to myself as much as you) that it's been our habit to think negatively of ourselves for so long that it has become an automatic reaction. Automatic reactions are difficult to change overnight but they can be 'reprogrammed' over time. I like the idea of the STOP sign. Slowing down the thought process helps a lot because it helps you catch the thought before it goes too deep and replace it with a more loving way of self-critique. Asking yourself questions like 'would I say that to my friend?' are very helpful. Another technique I've heard is to find a picture of yourself as a child and ask yourself the same question. Of course, we would never find something harmful to say, so why can't we apply the same loving kindness to ourselves? The truth is, we can! But it takes time.

Some days are scary. Some days I also feel like it takes so much energy to think positively, I want to give up. I can't be bothered. It's just easier to think negatively. Do you feel the same? If you do, just remember that it is tiring now, but think of it as flexing emotional muscles. No pain, no gain, right? The harder we work now, the easier it will be in the future. A future where we are emotionally stronger. Close your eyes and imagine a happier you in a future full of hope where all our dreams have come true. Allow yourself to be buoyed by that feeling. By recognising old habits, you have already started the journey towards these new ways of living. You are doing great already :)

All the same, don't push yourself. As Strong says, this takes practice. We can't get rid of negative patterns instantly in the same way we can't become international weightlifters overnight. It's important to be gentle with yourself. Don't tell yourself off for thinking negatively. Allow those thoughts to come out so you can edit them into something positive. I think you are already doing so well if you can recognise 'good' days and 'bad' days. It shows me that these thoughts are already beginning to un-ingrain themselves. Everyday, whether it is good or bad, brings you to your new you. Remember there is no right or wrong way, there is only your way.

List all the beautiful things you have done at the end of the day and allow yourself to feel good about them. ED makes us think that we are no more than how we appear and even then it doesn't give us room to feel good about that. Our true nature is so much more! You are both so strong and brave to speak about how you feel, and I think it's amazing you are both here. Keep going. We can do this!

Much love, KD.

Wow, thank you so so much KD

Wow, thank you so so much KD for such a thorough, long, and very sweet response!! I definitely do feel that sometimes it does take way too much effort to be positive, but I have also found myself pushing on those days to do something nice for someone else. I will make myself talk to a stranger on the elevator or reach out to someone in a positive way, so that hopefully I can make their day a little better which in turn makes me feel better too. I am very much a people person and am very dedicated to help people, which is why I want to be in medicine. Sometimes the only thing that keeps me positive is the hope that some day I can use my story to save another young person from the kind of pain and harm an ED can bring.

I absolutely do that too, I CONSTANTLY complement other people - the cashier at the grocery store, a random person on the bus, a waitress - and even though it's such a very small gesture (sometimes just as simple as "I like your earrings!") I can tell it really adds a little sparkle to their day. I will try to do that more for myself, picking out at least one good thing every day.

My dad also suggested that I make a list similar to the one you mentioned. He told me when he was going through recovery he made a list of all the things he did well that day and also all the things he could do better. I think right now I should focus on the former, but maybe someday I will be able to pick things out about myself that I could do better but not beat myself up about them. Maybe I can work towards taking those things and turning them into something positive to learn from, just like you said. I don't think we should run away from the bad thoughts but rather let them come out so we can change them into something beautiful.

Wow, my heart and my mind feel so much lighter after reading all of your words and putting the rest of my thoughts down too. I really appreciate you taking the time to respond and also for all of your encouragement and support! My dad was also telling me a story about his recovery (from being an alcoholic, btw) in which he made a really really small gesture one time and he went back to AA and everyone cheered and hooted and hollered because they knew it was more about the principle than the actual act itself. Recovery is a life-style not a 9-5 job. He went to his work friends and told them the same story because he was so proud and everyone was like "Uh, yeah dude, anyone would have done that. That's what you're supposed to do." I feel as though during recovery the hardest things are the little, tiny, day-to-day habits and thoughts that we have to change, and I don't think people who haven't been through it realize how monumental it is when you can change even one bad thought into something that might not even be positive about yourself but at least is neutral instead of negative. It just really warms my heart to feel like other people are out there who really understand, relate, and can appreciate all those tiny steps. So thank you again - so so so much!!



I love some of the ideas that Strong & KDekyi:D have suggested, it sounds like it would be helpful to talk with a therapist to develop strategies to change the negative thought/behavior patterns that you are having. You mentioned that you have tried seeing a few people but never quite found the right match. From personal experience I can sympathize, finding a therapist that is a good match is a chore but it is worth the work! From your comments you sound like a wonderful, smart person and you deserve to feel good about yourself.

If you ever need someone to talk to try the NEDA Helpline, the volunteers are not medical professional and can’t replace a therapist but it is really great to have someone to talk to when you are having a hard day.

Monday-Thursday from 9:00 am - 9:00 pm and Friday from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (EST)

You sound like such a

You sound like such a wonderful person. I think it’s so important to be kind to people in recovery. When you’re down it’s so easy for your world to shrink so you think everything is out to get you and nothing will ever get better. Being kind brings us out of the isolation and back into the world, and that’s where we want to be at the end of the day. A lot of people tell me I have to be kind to myself before I can be kind to others, but at this stage I find it works the other way round - that the more I am kind to others, the better I can feel about myself. Like a kind of selfish selflessness. One day positivity will just roll off our tongues without a second thought. Maybe next time I see myself in the mirror I will pretend I am some stranger on the bus and compliment my reflection. Or congratulate myself on something positive I have done. It’s so easy to berate ourselves and so hard to feel good, but it is possible – it’s just a new habit we have to get into.

You have such an amazing motivation to recover and your dad sounds really supportive. It’s great you have someone around who can offer advice directly related to what you’re going through. I have a similar experience in group therapy to him – it’s so wonderful to talk about things in an environment where people understand without explanation or having to apply a logic. We know the logical explanation – that’s not why we’re here. What we need is the support of people who know exactly what we’re going through. And that’s why I know you’ll be a great doctor - because you’ve been there and know what it’s like. Besides you’re already there in that supportive role simply by coming on here. So be proud of that!

The important thing to acknowledge is that we’re not perfect and (sad truth) we never will be. Still, that’s ok and I’m beginning to learn that. Of course there will always be ways we can improve but we shouldn’t be cruel to ourselves about that. That’s just part of life’s adventure and gives us something to work for in the future. But you’re right: first focus on the positive in the here and now, and take the negative and give it a rewrite. With both of them under our belt we are already writing a brighter future.

Aww thank you so much. You

Aww thank you so much. You sound like such a smart, kind-hearted person KD and I know you can get through this. I think you will really help someone with your experiences, just as you have been helping me. I wasn't feeling so great about myself when I came back to this post again today, and reading your response really turned me around. Sometimes it's hard to catch myself saying those mean things and I just let them swell inside until they quickly become all I see. Instead of going to sleep with those bad thoughts now, I have replaced them with positive ones. You are right, we are so beautiful! And we are writing a brighter future every time we can admit that to ourselves. Regardless of what you look like, I can tell my your writing that you are truly a beautiful person. At the end of the day, that is what truly matters.

I think I will look into group therapy. It is much easier to talk about it with people who can recognize the things, like you said, that aren't exactly rooted in logic. Everyone has their own reality, just because something is "logical" in someone else's reality doesn't mean it holds the same truth in ours. Instead of beating ourselves up about why our realities are the way the are, we should focus more energy on changing how we react to it. As always, it is much easier said than done! But I take comfort in the fact that I'm not the only one and that other people are cheering me on. We got this!

Hey girl

I am the same age, in college, also super tall (5'10") always called big, I struggle with the same exact things you do. I worry about drinking but I find myself missing out on a lot of social events because I am not willing to drink those calories. My best friend asked me if I was okay and I told her honestly what was going on and she did not remotely understand. I can completely relate to everything you are going through. We have to stick together! You are definitely not alone.

Hi hottytoddy9, thank you for

Hi hottytoddy9, thank you for your post! It's always comforting to know I am not alone, and I think the height thing especially is something that people don't tend to understand. I worked in a research lab last summer and the first thing my mentor said when she met me was "Wow, I didn't know they were sending me a big person, I'll have to order XL gloves." It was such a rude comment and even though I don't think she meant it cruelly, people just associated height with a general sense of being big. All of my friends are significantly shorter than I am and don't understand. They think it's so awesome to be tall. It's something I've really struggled with a lot, especially lately. I feel like even if I lost a lot of weight I would still be big. But I know that there is beauty in height and I just have to accept that this is the way I was made. As far as the drinking goes, I am so with you. I didn't used to drink at all, but I felt like I missed out on a lot. There are a lot of low calorie drinks out there that I am finding. It is a difficult age, college. But we can get through this! We are tall and beautiful gosh darn it!

I'm sure you feel big and

I'm sure you feel big and tall but really the taller you are the slimmer you look! It's such a blessing! Your friends I'm sure are so envious of you. You should really consider finding someone you can relate with. When I did that it made me feel less crazy! People think you're self conscious just like other girls but they don't realize how much it consumes our lives day to day. Don't let those people make you feel silly or crazy! You're definitely not alone and this isn't a joke. Hope you are having a good day today

Group therapy has been the

Group therapy has been the best part of this recovery process. Finally, I can sit in a group of people, say what I think and everyone knows exactly what I’m talking about. Even just listening to other people’s successes can be so inspirational. It makes me realise how much is possible. So I’d highly recommend it if it’s available in your area.

I think it’s difficult to be kind to ourselves because we don’t have an example to follow. It seems everyone I know shies away from a compliment while being quick to criticise themselves about the smallest thing. It’s a sad truth but I find it far from depressing. In fact, it makes me more determined to be the one to set the example. So now I allow myself to accept the compliments I receive safe in the knowledge that I am so much more than the ED which controlled me for so long. Thank you for making me feel beautiful :) you are beautiful for doing so.

And hottytoddy9, I think it’s great that you opened up to your friend. They might not understand now, but maybe they will later. In any case, just because they don’t understand doesn’t mean they can’t help you :) Until then, keep coming on here. The more people on your side the better. What is it they say? United we stand, divided we fall. So let’s stick together and see what magic the future can bring.

Hottytoddy9 - that is so

Hottytoddy9 - that is so completely true! My friends do the same thing, they say everyone has insecurities but I don't think they understand how much I really think about it. It really is all consuming at times. But you are right - being tall is a blessing, it does even things out! I will definitely try to find someone I can open up to. I have opened up to my dad a little but he doesn't really follow up with me. The only time we talk about it is if I bring it up. It still feels like a secret and something that's "off-limits" to talk about. I know that it's just a lot to process and he has never had to deal with it before, especially from his daughter so i try to be understanding. My mom kind of just acts like it's not a problem. I think she is still in the denial phase. I wish they were a little more proactive in trying to get me help, any time I have gone to therapy I have had to pay for it and I've had to call, schedule, and find transportation. I know it is ultimately my responsibility to do all of those things, but I just wish I could get a little push every now and again.

KDekyi:D - that sounds wonderful, I really want to find a group that I can go too. That sounds like such a safe, comforting, and inspiring environment and I think it would really be a turning point in my recovery if I could get into one of those. You are so right, there is no example for how to be nice to ourselves, we are all raised to be kind to others but no one really thinks to teach us to be nice to ourselves. I met a girl the other day who said that when she was growing up her mom made her stand in front of the mirror every day and tell her one thing she saw that was beautiful. I thought that was such a beautiful sentiment and I really want to do that when I have kids some day. It's really important to teach us how to do those things, and the earlier in life the better! Aww, you ARE beautiful! But I know I could tell you 10 times a week and twice on Sunday and it wouldn't matter unless you believed it yourself. So I hope you are starting to! I think you were saying in another post that you seem all positive on here because you imagine you are talking to yourself, and I do the exact same thing. Sometimes I feel hypocritical for being so supportive and encouraging to others but not to myself, but we are learning and I think we are doing a darn fine job. We are bringing the magic already! Let's keep it up :-D Thank you guys so much for listening. I really feel like a weight has been lifted off of me the past few days. Whenever I feel like I want to make myself sick or thing negative things about myself, I refer back to your posts and it really lifts me up :-)

This thread has been so

This thread has been so inspiring, and I’m so incredibly happy that you have all been able to share your feelings and feel understood and supported. Please remember that the NEDA Helpline is available at 1-800-931-2237 (Monday-Thursday, 9am-9pm and Friday, 9am-5pm), and the trained volunteers who work the helpline are available for additional support, as well as to point you in the direction of various resources in your area.

Stay strong, and please keep posting!

Thank you torib23, I am so

Thank you torib23, I am so glad it has inspired you!! I really wish I had found this website a year ago, but I am just happy that I have found it now. It has really been therapeutic for me the past few days. Instead of acting on the negative thoughts I am having, like I would usually do, I come on here and write instead. I tend to feel embarassed about talking so much and I know people stop listening after a while but every one here is so receptive and responsive. It has really lifted my heart this week and I am so so appreciative!!

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