Debunking The Myths About Anorexia: Personal Experience

Dean Rouseberg Author: Dean Rouseberg Time for reading: ~10 minutes Last Updated: November 28, 2022
Debunking The Myths About Anorexia: Personal Experience

The 22-year-old author of the article shares her personal experience of successfully fighting anorexia for several years. In his article, the author debunks 10 myths about anorexia.

McKenzie Maxon, a writer for Greatist, thought she was fine until she was 19. In fact, she has been suffering from anorexia for three years. The girl shares her experience in the fight against this mental disorder and debunks 10 myths related to this disease.

I used to think that everything was fine with me: I have many close friends at school, I successfully participate in long-distance cross-country races... The fact that I was sick came as a complete surprise to me. At the age of 16, I already had anorexia nervosa. But doctors have not made a diagnosis yet. For a long time, I denied that I had an eating disorder. I came to my senses at the age of 19.

When I started studying in college, I noticed that there are many people around who are interested in something more important than the number of calories in the food they eat. They looked happy, but I was definitely not happy. I need time to get rid of anorexia. True, I still cannot say that I have completely coped with this ailment.

I had one of the eating disorders. Doctors distinguish the following types of it:

  • anorexia nervosa;
  • bulimia nervosa;
  • psychogenic overeating;
  • orthorexia nervosa.

Now I'm 22 and I understand that struggling with anorexia is normal. But ignoring this condition is not normal. Eating disorders are a serious matter. I have never been physically sick like others, but my mental health has suffered. After I learned enough about anorexia and started to recover, I want to share with you the information I learned. I will tell you the most famous myths about anorexia and try to debunk them.

MYTH 1. If a person has anorexia, then he is very thin

Livestock can be a sign of anorexia. But lack of weight is a mandatory symptom if bulimia, psychogenic overeating or orthorexia nervosa are observed.

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder when there is a deliberate loss of weight. The patient himself causes this condition in order to lose weight or avoid excess weight in the future.

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder with bouts of overeating and excessive preoccupation with weight control. Psychogenic overeating: overeating that leads to excess weight and is a reaction to a psychotraumatic situation. May follow the loss of loved ones, accidents, surgeries, and emotional distress, especially in individuals prone to obesity. Orthorexia nervosa is called an obsessive desire to eat properly and eat only healthy food. How to avoid orthorexia? Do not push the idea to the point of absurdity.

In fact, physiological manifestations are not the essence of the problem with an eating disorder. Mental state is much more important. You can weigh a lot or little, be tall or short, muscular or thin. But this does not in any way indicate your attitude to food, sports or your body.

When anorexia took a threatening turn, my body was still functioning, I didn't look sick, but I was just very thin. Now I'm healthy, but most people still call me skinny. On the other hand, not everything was in order with my head: I went crazy counting calories, ran more and more, weighed less and less.

MYTH 2. Someone who achieves a lot will not get anorexia

On the other hand, I was quite successful in life: at school, with friends, in the team. And then I suddenly fell ill. But if you look back, you could see that my success became my problem.

Risk factors for the development of an eating disorder:

  • perfectionism;
  • negative thinking (the opposite of positive thinking, the tendency to dwell on shortcomings).

I just had all this present. I had to put pressure on myself to succeed and become "perfect", and it was tons of effort and control. And subconsciously I felt the need to control my body too.

MYTH 3. Anorexia appears only in people with complexes

I never considered myself fat or ugly. I did not suffer particularly from low self-esteem, and I had no complexes about my appearance. But I was very afraid to admit to someone that I had anorexia, because I was afraid of looking stupid. I thought that just because I had a lean body, it was perfect proof that I was successfully avoiding food. But now I realize that my obsession with calorie counting and exercise was just a way to de-stress my heightened anxiety. I was worried because not everything was under my control.

Even when anorexia manifested itself in full force and when I weighed very little, I did not think that I looked good, I wanted to become even slimmer. Although I perfectly understood that I was terribly thin. The real disease was in my head: I thought that since I could starve, then I was better and stronger than others. I have never felt hatred for my body or appearance. And when I began to recover, I thanked my body all the time for the fact that it was able to withstand everything that I created with it.

The real disease was in my head: I thought that since I could starve, then I was better and stronger than others.

MYTH 4. Anorexia can be ignored

No. Anorexia requires your attention every second and affects every aspect of your life. I planned my study time immediately after sports so that there was no time to eat. I avoided lunches with friends so that they would not notice that I had thrown away the food. One day, when my mother invited me to the dinner table, I burst into tears and sobbed until she allowed me to stay in her room. Now it's even hard for me to believe that I missed a lot of events that were somehow related to food, because I was just afraid of food.

MYTH 5. Anorexia goes away when you accept your body

In each case of an eating disorder, there is almost always a personal life situation that you should talk to someone about. Now I can tell you exactly what my problem was. I desperately wanted to keep everything under control. And I felt bad when I thought about things I could not influence.


After watching loved ones, seeing their trials (divorce, unhappy marriages, severe mental illness, financial instability), happiness seemed to me something unattainable. It didn't matter how hard I tried, I still couldn't reach my goal.


I'm tired of being helpless around my loved ones. I watched them struggle and in the end they still couldn't do anything and were miserable. That's why I tried to control at least something in my life: it was nutrition and physical activity. It occurred to me only when I began to recover. If I had understood earlier, if I had talked to someone about my problem at that time, everything would have been different.


MYTH 6. No one can see that you have anorexia

I considered myself cunning. But it wasn't like that. My friends ignored my behavior only because they knew I would snap if they dared to say anything. My mother follows a policy of non-intervention in terms of upbringing. Either way, she definitely knew something was up with me. My trainer noticed that I was losing weight. Since I was still running fast, he didn't say anything to me. I was proud of the fact that no one could tell me about my problem. Although yes, I understood that many people suspected me of anorexia.

When I finally came to my senses, I told my new college friend from freshman year about everything. My hands were shaking: I was afraid that he would not take my words seriously. This guy had only known me for a few months and he wasn't surprised to hear about everything. He listened to me with a very serious expression on his face, then he wiped away my tears and told me that everything would be okay. And over time, everything really got better. What do I regret? That it took me a long time to admit the problem and open up to other people.

MYTH 7. Asking for help shows weakness

I was afraid of this the most in the world. This is the most stupid myth I have ever believed. But you know what else? No one thinks, cool, this person won't admit they have a problem! In fact, when you open up to other people, they just think of you as Human. And therefore everything that arises thanks to such interaction between people is real and sincere.

Trying to deal with an eating disorder alone, whether it's anorexia or bulimia, will only distance you from others. For me, isolation became one of the worst side effects of anorexia. I thought that no one understood me, that my friends did not know the real me, that I was the only person who had ever experienced such a phenomenon (which is far from the case). Not only was I struggling with anorexia, but I was also struggling with a sense of alienation from the world.

MYTH 8. No one will understand you

You'd be surprised how many people actually want to help you. No, not everyone will understand exactly what you are going through right now. But every person at one time struggled with something. And if loved ones love you, they will do everything possible to help and sympathize. Part of the reason I never told anyone what I was going through was because I thought they wouldn't understand. Since then, I have learned how strange and beautiful people can be.

MYTH 9. Anorexia affects only you

It was very difficult for me to write about it. Problems do not exist only in your own world. My younger sister, whom I love more than anyone else, definitely noticed that something was wrong with me. In childhood, we went through difficult trials together. And instead of turning to her for help, I went into myself.

I could not even imagine that my actions would affect my sister in such a way. Perhaps I was subconsciously demonstrating my actions as the only correct way to go through pain. Maybe this happened because anorexia has not only psychological aspects, it is also genetically determined. Anyway, my sister refused to eat, didn't talk to anyone, and slept most of the day. This went on for a whole year.

Fortunately, she is now healthy, full of strength and back to herself. My sister experienced the terrible example I showed her. These difficult circumstances taught me to be aware of how my actions affect others, even if I do not intend to do so myself.

MYTH 10. You will get rid of anorexia forever

It took me so long to learn how to balance! At the same time, I still don't really understand how to do it. If I go to dinner and everyone is having drinks, I feel uneasy and start looking for answers to the question: what if I don't want a glass of wine? It is easier for me not to eat at all than to eat little by little. If I want to eat a little bit of chocolate, I end up eating a whole bar. In fact, moderation takes a lot of effort.

What did I have to put up with? With the fact that there are no correct solutions. In the process of struggling with morbid obesity, I had to learn to listen to my body and not just try to force myself to be someone I'm not.

Echoes of anorexia accompany me throughout my life. I keep in mind the information about how many calories and macronutrients are in the products. And I can't get it out of my head. When I choose something in the store, first of all I look at the number of calories and what this product consists of. If I haven't exercised, a small voice inside insists that I don't deserve dessert. Sometimes I still internally panic if my friends have made a spontaneous decision to go get ice cream or hamburgers.


Don't get me wrong: I'm much better now. But at the subconscious level there are still deep-rooted habits. For example, I can't forget how many calories are in a chocolate chip cookie or how many calories I can burn while jogging. Simply put, it is impossible to completely get rid of eating disorders. All you can do is get healthier every day.



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