Eating Disorder First-Hand Stories
Letters of Hope
I don't exactly have one eating disorder. I have bulimic and anorexic tendencies. I don't know how common that is, but it's what my current situation is. I've had it since I was about 12. So, it's been 3 years now.
I was overweight for awhile when I was younger. Then I leveled off and when I entered junior high, I started putting on weight again. In junior high, it's a fate worse than death to be fat. So I began to diet. I went from a size 14 to a size 8, and then began to take diet pills. I then went from an 8 to a 1.
Only 2 people know about my eating disorder. My mom and one of my best friends. They are very understanding, but I don't think they fully understand what I'm going through. Sometimes they try to make me eat, which always results in a round of yelling and fuming.
Actually, what made me decide to get outside help was the story a Concerned Counseling friend of mine told me about her eating disorder experience. It was an eye opening experience and scared me.
I have tried therapy, but I have had bad experiences with most therapists and nutritionists. Concerned Counseling has been the one place where I have a good experience with a therapist. I am getting ready to seek help outside of Concerned Counseling, and it's kind of scary to me, but I'm willing to try.
I don't think I'll ever be fully recovered from my eating disorder. An eating disorder is something that's with you for life. I think I'm going to have to stay committed to it in a way. I'll always have to fight it, but it's a fight I'm willing to do.
I am a recovering anorexic and bulimic who, for at least eight years, has lived with the monster of ED (eating disorder). Those years were not always complete hell, but often, they were. Anyone who spent extended periods of time with me would attest to this without question or hesitation.
I was in denial most of the time, but part of me always knew something was wrong -- or at least different. After suffering quietly for about four years, I eventually got into eating disorder therapy with a psychologist and a psychiatrist. In addition, I have been hospitalized and have spent time in a residential eating disorder treatment center.
It was really helpful for me to be in the accepting and caring environment of the center. It provided me with a kind of rebirth to be with others in similar situations and the opportunity to share a mutual understanding of what we were fighting daily; suddenly my eating disorder didn't seem so powerful, knowing that we were all in on the battle and preoccupation together.
On the other hand, I hated the hospital because I felt even more alone, helpless, and hopeless there. Even though it probably saved my life at the time, it nevertheless was not beneficial for long-term help with the disease.
I continue to be in therapy and on medication. While I am working against this deadly enemy, I've experienced relapses. However, I now know that there is hope out there and that instead of ED killing me, I can kill ED.
With this in mind, I have learned to take not only one day, but one thing, at a time and to make the most of whatever I am presented with. Easier said than done, I often remind myself of what Emily Dickinson wrote:
"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without words,
And never stops at all."
I'm 33 years old now, and I've had my eating disorder for around half my life, since I was 17 or 18, and in college. I was a slender girl in high school and able to eat all I wanted. All of a sudden, I gained 15 pounds my freshman year and 10 my sophomore year.
Funny thing is, compared to now, I wasn't really that fat then. In fact, I'm still not obese. I'm about 20 pounds overweight.
Back then, I tried to diet and started to binge. I would go to three different vending machines to get junk food, then sneak it into the library. For awhile, I alternated between dieting a few days and all out binges. Then, I descended into bulimia. I discovered laxatives could make me feel "clean" again after my binges.
Until I was 22, I binged once, sometimes twice a day, using 10-15 correctols at a time. I remember visiting a professor and having dizzy spells; I almost fainted. After a few more near-misses, I realized the laxatives were taking their toll. Through student health (I was in a graduate program), I went through some eating disorder group therapy. It enabled me to quit using laxatives, but the binges were still there. I relapsed into laxative use for a brief stressful time, but overall since then I have managed to stay off them with only a few one-time use lapses a year.
When I began therapy, I was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder, or manic depression. I started to see the first of quite a few psychiatrists and to take medication. For a while, the binges lifted to maybe one a week, and then they'd come back. I find it interesting that my moods don't really coincide with my binges. I could feel happy and still binge, and be depressed and not. I have had periodic remissions of the binge eating for a few months at different times over the years, and I don't know why.
The most recent thing I tried was a Breaking Free workshop by Geneen Roth. It worked for awhile. What I have come to realize is that sometimes the binge eating is useful and it helps me get through the day. Sometimes I allow it to exist. Other times I want to fight. I find that the chat room at this site has helped me resist binges. Someday I will beat this thing, I just need to keep trying different ways.
Letters of Pain
I am a nineteen year old female. I was anorexic when I was fifteen, but I still have to deal with this disease to this day.
At times I have to make myself eat and at other times I just have to decide that I won't listen to people's comments..
People's comments are what triggered this whole disease for me. I have always been skinny, but not as skinny as my older sister. I would look at her and think that I had to be skinnier than her since I was younger. People used to tell me that I was going to be fat when I got older. It was a big joke to a lot of people, but it affected me more than they will ever know. They made stupid comments like," Anna, you are getting so big that soon you won't be able to fit through the double doors."
Of course, I was not gaining weight but I just had to prove to everyone that I was not going to get fat. In the summer before ninth grade, I stopped eating. I tried to see how long I could go without eating anything.
I remember, one time I didn't eat for three weeks. I would chew gum and drink water, but never too much water because I thought that I might gain weight from the water. I liked to let people know that I had not eaten in three weeks and that I was just not hungry.
No one, except my sister, seemed to care that I was not eating. Her boyfriend's mom was a nurse so she talked to me about what I was doing to my body by not eating. I really didn't listen to her at first. Then I realized that by not eating I was not getting the attention that I wanted. I realized that there was other ways to get attention rather than starve myself.
At the beginning of the summer I weighed 105 lbs. By the end of the summer I weighed close to 85 lbs. and yet no one was really concerned about me.
I never had any treatment, but I wish that I had. I still have to make myself eat at times. I try to ignore people's comments. No matter how small they may seem, I know that they will affect me.
At times, I find myself not eating so I force myself to eat. My boyfriend knows all about my problems with eating and he strongly encourages me to eat. He knows when I haven't eaten in awhile and he makes me sit down and eat with him. I have problems eating with a lot of people especially if they are strangers.
Age: 35Compulsive Overeating
I have suffered from an eating disorder for about 8 years now! I am an overeater and a binger. When I get nervous or depressed, I tend to stuff my face with everything in sight until I get sick or diarrhea. Then I look at pictures of when I weighed between 110 and 120 and I go into severe manic depression.
Sometimes I just stay in bed for days and don't answer the phone or the door. When my kids and my husband ask me what is wrong, I just cry and tell them that I am a failure at everything and I wish I was dead! Of course, I then find solace in food or cigarettes. At other times, I go on diet binges and practically starve myself for days. Most times, I hide food from myself and everyone else and late at night I sneak out of bed and gorge. Then the cycle begins again!
I look in the mirror at myself and want to throw up. I am so disgusted with myself. Everyone that knows me says that I am a beautiful giving woman with a heart as big as Texas and that there isn't anything I wouldn't do for the people that I love. I just look at myself and see a butt as big as Texas!
This has caused many problems in my marriage and with our sex life. I won't let my husband even look at me with the lights on and our love making has dwindled down to practically nothing. Then I start thinking that he doesn't love me anymore and wants someone else because this has affected his performance too! He is afraid that if he can't perform, I will start thinking that it's because of my FAT! This is usually a correct statement. Thus, no sex life!
The kids really pussyfoot around me and basically stay out of my way or wait on me hand and foot when I get this way. I know I have a problem. I just don't know how to solve it! I have been to psychiatrists, counselors, doctors, and talk groups. I have tried every diet that has ever come out, even the quick weight loss program designed for patients who need surgery and starvation diets. I have tried exercise programs and walking. I have even tried taking laxatives!
PLEASE HELP me if you can, although at this point I feel there is no help! I am not a rich person and I don't have Richard Simmons helping me like I see all those people getting help on all those talk shows!
My family thinks that I am being silly and that I don't have any reason to feel depressed, so I keep it inside and eat some more.
I am currently afflicted with bulimia. I have been with this disorder for nearly 6 years. This disorder was a cure-all for my excessive weight in college. In fact, at first it wasn't a disorder at all. It was a gift. One that I did not, could not, let go. Now it is a curse, one I own.
I soon discovered this was consuming me and it was taking every essence of my being. I became obsessed with finding all I could about eating disorders. I was one who had control of it, not it of me. I researched for hours, denying myself of friends, of life. When I wasn't reading about it I was acting it out. I became involved with an eating disorder support group at the University of Northern Iowa. Not to get support but to satisfy my own obsession in hearing other people's stories. I could offer advice that would help but never needed any myself.
I finally admitted I more of a problem than I could 'solve' on my own. In the spring of my junior year I decided to go to a counselor. After a few sessions she urged me to go into an inpatient treatment facility. I shied away from this, but eventually entered.
I remained in for 9 weeks. I went through several methods of treatment. Antidepressant medication, psychotherapy and eating disorder group therapy. I came out of treatment with renewed strength and faith. After six months, I relapsed. I was continuing my counseling, but that ceased after a year. I was only getting worse.
My professional life was on the up and only getting better. My personal life was shot! I was becoming my disorder in a severe way. I began stealing food for my disorder. I continue to deteriorate and act out my disorder during any free minute I get. It is a compulsive habit that has become a full blown addiction.
My future? I wish I knew. I can only hope and envision myself becoming strong enough to overcome this. I have serious doubts that this will ever happen. I spend a vast amount of energy planning, covering up and acting out my other persona. I wish I could become a 'normal' person. I don't think that will ever happen.
I suppose I do have an eating disorder. I have been depressed and I don't really know what kind of eating disorder I have.
I used to sort of be bulimic, but now I'm an anorexic overeater. I try to keep it from my friends and family, but it has affected me in a lot of ways. It's very frustrating and hard to deal with.
I do have a psychologist, but, because I am neither under weight or overweight, no one really takes me seriously. Last year and the year before, people thought I was anorexic. Now, everyone thinks everything is okay as long as I'm eating. No one really seems to understand that when I'm overeating, its just as bad as when I'm not eating at all.
I generally try to protect those around me, so I keep it hidden. I've never really figured out why eating is such a problem for me, but I always have a really hard time with food. I hope to someday be able to eat normally, without worrying about calories, or completely binging, but first I need to find the right help.
I'm 33 years old and weigh 87 lbs, and I'm 5'3.
I guess you would say that I'm still in denial about having anorexia. I've had two doctors and one dietician tell me that my problems come from my low weight. When I initially went to the doctor because my heart beats too fast, he told me it was the result of an eating disorder. He put me on heart medication.
I haven't had any treatment for eating disorders. I refused to go because I don't think that's my problem. However, deep down, the more I look at things and talk to people, the more the doctors may be right. It's a fight within yourself, that I don't know who will win.
The crazy thing is: I'm 33 years old, a wife and the mother of two children. I'm a kindergarten teacher who asks the little guys what they eat for breakfast. I teach them that they need good food to grow nice and big and strong. Now they're saying that I'm anorexic.
I am obese. I am 5'4" and weigh from 190 to 242...depending on the week. As a child, my parents were constantly after me to gain weight. As an adult, people feel the need to encourage me to lose weight.
The biggest problem I have is eating large quantities of food until I am sick. I don't want the food. I'm not hungry and it doesn't taste or feel good. I'm not sure why I do it. I have been told it is "self-medicating" to ease emotional pain.
It has GREATLY affected my relationships with others in that I cannot stand for people to touch me or stand close to me. When they do, I feel like I am so ugly and so dirty that it will "rub off" on them. I also feel like no one really wants to touch me or be around me because I am so disgusting. I punish myself physically for eating...cutting, hitting, and burning myself so that I won't eat again.
I guess part of the problem is that I go for days at a time eating nothing and then eat uncontrollably for a day or two, then eat nothing again. I hate myself. I hate how I look. I cry when I see myself in the mirror. I feel like I can never see exactly what I look like and I am constantly measuring and comparing myself to others to see if they are bigger or smaller.
I cannot eat out with others because I have to go to the restroom to throw up and I am afraid someone will hear me. At work, my boss recently asked if I was sick because she noticed an odor in the bathroom. So now, I have had to find another place to throw up so she won't know. Please excuse the graphic nature. I don't know how else to put it.
I want help. When you're low-income, it's hard to get.
Letters from Parents
I found out that my 16 year old daughter was bulimic approximately 2 years ago after I found a journal that she was writing. Actually, in my ignorance at the time, I thought she was just "going through a phase". I didn't believe that she was doing it often, nor did I believe that it would continue very long. These opinions were based on the fact that I never saw or heard her do it and she didn't appear to be losing weight.
I did not approach her with my discovery- and at about the same time she began counseling for depression. Her therapist confirmed to me that she was binging and purging.
She lost a classmate to suicide, then her beloved grandfather died suddenly of a heart attack. I know she started making herself throw up as a way of "having control" over her life, and "getting rid of the bad stuff". She never wanted to have me find out because she said that it is disgusting and she was afraid of disappointing me. In fact, it's only within the last few months that she became aware that I know about it.
She has seen a counselor for 2 years, which hasn't helped much. She says he doesn't understand. She took Prozac for 1 1/2 months, then refused to take it anymore-said it didn't make her feel better. She does access your message board and chatrooms which I think has helped her because she is able to talk to people who "understand".
No other members of the family are in counseling at this time. It seems like I am the only other person affected by it. I feel a tremendous amount of guilt! I feel like if I would have tried harder to give her a stronger self-esteem, she wouldn't be trying to hurt herself. I feel like I have failed her in some way. It scares me to think of the long term problems she is subjecting herself to. I also don't understand what would make a person want to do that.
That is why I access your channel, because I am desperately searching for ways to help my daughter before this gets completely out of control. I want to make her feel good about herself, and realize that she is a wonderful person.
Letters of Recovery
Due to an 'on-going' horrendous childhood, I entered my teens with a very low opinion of myself.
I suppose I was around 12 when I first stopped eating. Looking back, I am not certain why? Only that I could, so I did! I think most people then considered it a 'teen' thing and that I would outgrow it. By the time I was 16, my periods had stopped and I weighed 84 pounds. I had full-blown anorexia.
My family doctor had me hospitalized. By then, it was no longer a choice element. The thought of food would bring on immediate nausea. I recall clearly one doctor that came to see me. He told me I was wasting his time and that my parents should 'do something' with me. That incident made me very wary of approaching medical people for a long time.
Over the years, I have received medication on and off, but I have quickly relapsed into my anorexia once support is withdrawn. The real crunch for me came in Spring '95. I collapsed. It was a heart attack. The years of self starvation had damaged my body irreversibly. I was in the hospital for 5 months. This time I received therapy for eating disorders as well as medication.
It has taken the 18 months since to regain my strength. I am now just over 105 pounds. I now do the grocery shopping. I couldn't face that for years. I even cook for my family.
To aid in my recovery, I was given extensive therapy on a one-to-one basis. I have to say that the therapy was the best treatment. The sub-conscious mind is an extraordinarily strong thing and my emotional difficulties needed to be addressed. I still have to use beta-blockers for my heart as I am left with a 'murmur' and morphine-based painkillers on occasion. I no longer though use medication for the anorexia.
Two things that I avoid that help me, weighing scales and mirrors. Both can bring about strong negative responses. It is a little like alcoholism. I will always have the tendency towards anorexia, but by avoiding certain triggers I can live a "normal life".
I will never be able to associate pleasure and food, but through education I can understand the necessity for it. I now acknowledge that eating is a task I must attend to and I've established a daily eating routine.
For me, it has always been about control, never weight. I do worry about relapsing and have never had the opportunity to talk to other people who have experienced this type of illness. Support is paramount and recovery can be tough as I often feel isolated. Few people understand how hard it is living with anorexia.
I hope that one day all kids will receive the help they need before their problem becomes deeply embedded. I now focus on today and worry about tomorrow when it arrives. I thank my husband and my kids for their support and belief in me.
I was 18 years old and off to college. I was overweight when I entered college, but by the end of my sophomore year I had lost over 100 pounds. I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa.
What started as a "FAD DIET", became a compulsion for me. I had gotten so bad at school with my starving, laxatives and diet pills, that I was forever passing out in my dorm room. I was in treatment at school with a psychiatrist at a local hospital that was pushing for hospitalization.
After passing out in my dorm room, ending up in the emergency room with low potassium, I was hospitalized on a general psychiatric unit for one month.
Besides the "fad diet", the big thing that really triggered my eating disorder was being raped at college. After 30 days of continued weight loss, my family was called to take me home to a hospital in New York that specialized in eating disorders.
I suffered from my eating disorder for 8 years with multiple hospitalizations ( I gave up counting after 12). I was tube fed on IV's and miserable. I was placed on antidepressant medications including Anafranil, Disipramine, Prozac and .
At the height of my illness, the eating disorder consumed my entire life. I gave up my friends, isolated myself in the house, dropped out of college (temporarily) and spent 5 days a week at the eating disorders' clinic for nutritional counseling and group therapy. Add to that, medical appointments three times per week. My family didn't understand this. To them, being thin was desirable at ANY COST.
I suffered many relapses and my eating disorder progressed to the point that I wanted to die. I reached that point of death and woke up in the ICU in 1994... that was when my recovery really began. My last hospitalization was in 1995.
I'm currently on Elavil. I'm also in out-patient psychotherapy on a weekly basis with my psychiatrist.
I have great hope for the future. I'm as close to eating disorder free as I think I can get. I refuse to let my eating disorder get out of control.
I went back to school and received my Master's Degree in Social Work. I am a practicing social worker and my intention is to help others fight this battle. My hopes and dreams for the future are to work with a non profit organization here in New York to help people with eating disorders get the treatment they need, even when they can't afford it.
I'm now married. I now have 2 1/2 years free of hospitalizations. Relapses happen with ED's and the media doesn't help at all...it's a never ending battle.
I am a 27 year old female who has been bulimic since I was 11.
I first learned about bulimia during a school orientation. Several of my friends and I tried it and I was the only one who liked it. I liked the fullness and sudden emptiness, the complete high feeling afterwards and also the instant relaxation that comes after throwing up.
I really was not an overweight child. I was very athletic and also never really paid much attention to my body until I began binging and purging. I did it occasionally until the age of 13. That's when I was raped by a family friend.
I then began purging without binging and anorexia. I was anorexic until I was 21. I entered the hospital at age 21 with a ruptured esophagus at 5 feet 6 inches and 100 lbs. I had maintained this weight for several years. I was insistent that I did not have an eating disorder and that I had the flu for several months. They did not believe it and called my parents.
I was out-of-state, going to college, and my mom flew to see me. She gave me an ultimatum, move home or go for treatment. I moved home. It was a mistake. I can see that now, 6 years later. But at the time, I was not ready to admit that I even had an eating disorder much less get treatment for it.
After moving home, I entered counseling for depression. I began to see that I did have an eating disorder and that was the first time I talked about the rape.
Several years later, I left home again after taking a job in my field of study. I had decreased my bulimic behavior to several times a week and also began using prescription drugs and cocaine to substitute for the relief of the bulimic behavior. I had a suicide attempt about 6 months after moving away from home. At that time, I was binging and purging approximately 15-20 times a day and wasn't working and obviously not paying my bills. Actually I wasn't doing anything but being bulimic.
I was committed to a treatment facility for several months. I just could not let go and stop purging. Then the court system forced me into drug treatment. I was told at that time that I was chronic and that I would never get better. I really did not care. I was ready to let bulimia kill me. I went to drug treatment, entered a half way house and attempted suicide again, also binging and purging many times a day and was committed to a state institution.
It was at this time that I took a serious look at my life and decided that I did not want to be bulimic anymore. I just could not seem to stop the behavior. I felt as if I was addicted. I could not maintain a healthy weight and I was severely depressed. Medication did not do much good for me because I was purging so much that it never had an opportunity to get into my system. I spent several months in this state hospital and was released. I moved back near my family with the hopes of working things out and maybe that would "cure me".
I have found that the only cure for me is to be honest about my feelings and to not "throw them up". Bulimia is a way I punish myself. I punish myself for feeling sad, happy, succeeding, failing, not being perfect and for doing a good job. I am learning that life is just one moment at a time and that often I can only say: "okay, for the next 5 minutes I will not binge or purge."
After having serious health problems several months ago with my heart and my kidneys, I faced the ultimatum, was I going to listen to my body or my eating disorder. I have chosen to listen to my body. It is hard and not always what I do. I am finding that the more I do listen to my body, the less my head tells me to binge and purge.
I think the hardest part for me is letting go of what I thought my eating disorder represented in my life: "stability, love, nurturance and acceptance". Trusting myself, and others, to find those things outside of food, and also learning to accept my body, has been very freeing.
I am not at a place where I can honestly say I love my body, but I can accept it for what it does for me and stop punishing it for what it doesn't do. My expectations today of life are: "one day at a time"; and I am finding that at the end of the day, if I slip and purge, I can forgive myself, look at why it happened and know that tomorrow is another chance for me to choose to be healthy.
I hope that one day there will be a place where people with eating disorders can go to find support, help and love for where they are at at the moment and not for where everyone thinks they should be. That was the hardest part of recovery. Today I am grateful that I have the experiences I have and I look forward to finding out what life is like when I live on life's terms and choose to do that bulimia free.
I had anorexia for about two years. It started as a weight thing. I thought I needed to lose a little weight to look better. Everyone around me and in magazines seemed to be so thin and gorgeous.
I started eating less, maybe one meal a day. Sometimes I would have snacks in between, but soon, that ended, too.
In the beginning, I weighed about 100 lbs. In a few months, I was down to 90. This didn't seem to be enough. I had to lose it quicker. So I started exercising every night, like a maniac. I did about two hundred sit-ups, a hundred leg lifts, and several other small exercises.
I also started eating even less. One day, I would eat maybe half a sandwich, then I wouldn't eat the next. I finally thought I'd reached my goal! 80lbs. But I still thought I was big. To me, though, the problem had changed from wanting to be thin, to an obsession with depriving myself of everything, mainly food.
My parents sent me to a psychiatrist, but it didn't help. So after a few weeks, I was on medication. They changed my medication four times, trying desperately to get me to eat, but nothing worked. I had slowly gone downhill. I was depressed all the time, only thinking about my weight. I was so hungry, but the guilt seemed worse than the starvation, so I continued.
My older brother had always been my hero, but one night, he cut his wrists. He lived, but it left a very vivid picture in my head. I could just kill myself and not have to worry anymore! I tried overdosing on muscle relaxers, but was only sent to the emergency room. A month later, I, too, cut my wrists. Nothing worked.
I ended up going to a hospital for other people with my problem, depression. But when I was in the hospital, I realized that nobody else had the two problems I had, depression and anorexia. I left the hospital after a week, unchanged. The psychiatrist changed my medication again, to Prozac. At this point, I was probably 75lbs. Three weeks passed, and I was slowly eating more, about a sandwich and a half each day. I pulled my weight up to 90 again. When I weighed myself, I started crying. I relapsed and dropped back down to 80lbs.
I cried all the time. Nothing was helping me and there was no way out. Everything seemed hopeless. A voice in my head constantly monitored what I ate, or even drank.
I returned to the hospital and this time listened to everything, and tried to actually learn what was causing this problem and what I could do to get out of the nightmare I had made for myself.
Now, a few months later, I feel somewhat relieved that most of this is over. I can eat more now and only hear the voice, if I let myself. Knowing that you can eat healthy, and stay thin, makes a big difference. You don't have to starve yourself to be that way.
I weigh 105 lbs. now and I feel happy about it. Every once in awhile, the voice will try to creep back in, but I just ignore it and continue trying to stay healthy.
I'm 17, but it seems like I've been through an awful lot. Thanks for asking me to write. I hope you can use it to help anyone that might have the same problems. They have to know, they're not the only ones, that's for sure!
It all started as an obsession with diet pills, but they never worked. So I started to starve myself. When I couldn't do that anymore either, that's when I decided that I can eat all I wanted and get "rid" of it. That's bulimia in a nutshell.
It was really easy at first and I had no problem doing it until I got weak and constantly felt sick. Not to mention the sore throat. In the beginning, I was 116 pounds. I'm 5'4". Now I realize that wasn't bad at all. I got down to 98 pounds and I was even more upset when no one had noticed that I had shed a pound.
I was constantly miserable and everyone around me had noticed. I also had an obsession with laxatives. Sounds gross, but it was another way to lose weight.
In my eyes, I think I still look horrible and I will never be perfect. I'm trying my hardest to stop this and slowly I am.
To most girls it sounds so perfect, but it's not. It's disgusting and painful and I would not want anyone to go though what I have been going through for the last few months.
I know it sounds like I am an old woman preaching this to you, but I'm not. I'm 17 years old and I'm really glad that I'm taking control of my problem before it got too serious.
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Tracy, N. (2008, December 3). Eating Disorder First-Hand Stories, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, June 1 from https://www.healthyplace.com/eating-disorders/articles/eating-disorder-first-hand-stories