**Content warning: This is one person’s story. Everyone will have unique experiences on their path to recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and symptoms. Please use your discretion when reading and speak with your support system as needed.
By Ariel Selwyn
Professionals say that an eating disorder is often a combination of genetics and an environmental trigger. At 18 years old, in fall 1997, I broke up with a boyfriend of 1½ years. That breakup was the trigger to an eating disorder that would go on for 22-plus years. At that time, I was very sheltered and I don’t think I even knew what an eating disorder was.
When you are suffering with an eating disorder, you need support. Unfortunately, my mother and stepfather told me the eating disorder was a sin in my life, which caused more guilt and shame because I couldn’t fix it. If it was a sin, why couldn’t I stop? My father and stepmother never spoke to me about it. They obviously saw that I was struggling but never said one word. Not one of my four parents got me professional help, which is what I desperately needed.
If you have a loved one struggling with an eating disorder, it might seem like they have become a completely different person. That’s because their time and energy goes into protecting the eating disorder. Part of their brain is still logical and wants recovery, but part of their brain is overtaken by the eating disorder and is scared to let it go. The eating disorder changed me. I became more rigid and less flexible. The only thing that mattered was the eating disorder and protecting it.