What Does It Truly Mean to “Suffer” From an Eating Disorder?

For the longest times I hated saying that I suffer from an eating disorder.

It seems to be the colloquial way people refer to their mental and medical conditions. “I suffer from diabetes… I suffer with anxiety…” I tried to actively avoid saying this when telling people about my eating disorder. “Well, I have an eating disorder” is the way it usually went.

One day a friend was introducing me to someone and shared that “she suffers from an eating disorder.”

I almost jumped in to correct her, but as the word sunk in for a moment, suffering seemed to sum up the eating disorder experience like no other word I could imagine.

Lost.

 

Hopeless.

 

Physical pain.

 

Trapped in my mind.

 

Just me and these obsessive thoughts.

 

A world ruled by numbers.

 

Isolated and alone.

 

Emotional strife.

 

Suffering.

Using any word besides suffering just minimized my experience. It wasn’t until I started explaining it to people that I suffer from an eating disorder, truly suffer, that they understood just how hard my experience with food was day to day, week to week.

Getting up every day, choosing recovery, and choosing to make all my appointments is tough. Overcoming years of suffering and moving to a life of freedom and joy takes so much effort.

The persistence it takes to move through each day was something my friends started acknowledging when I started admitted how bad this eating disorder was affecting me.

Fighter is what my friend calls me each time I have a moment of panic or pain. Warrior is what my colleagues call me when I show up to work ready to take on each day. Courageous is what my treatment providers call me for coming into treatment week after week. Brave what I call myself for acknowledging my suffering from this eating disorder and choosing to not let it rule me.

Suffering: A painful word to describe a painful experience.

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