Eating disorders are complicated diseases – yes diseases – that manifest themselves in dark, shadowy, bizarre ways.
Understand that the person is sick.
Understand that the person may not look like the ‘typical’ sufferer of an eating disorder.
Understand that the person most likely does not process the concepts of their body, hunger and/or food the same as you.
Understand that eating disorders affect both males and females, people of every race, ethnicity and religion, age, sexuality, height, weight, body composition, occupation, class, you name it, they are “the person” embodied in this piece of writing.
"The person" may do things that confuse you.
They may not eat.
They may eat more than what leaves them feeling satiated and comfortable.
They may violently expel food from their body, by methods of forced vomiting or laxatives.
They may run for hours at the gym.
To you, they may be beautiful. Or average. Or, in your opinion, in need of a more ‘harmless method’ of weight loss or alleviation of pain.
Sometimes “the person” may have a number of bizarre habits.
They may panic when their meticulously planned gym schedule is thrown off – even by a minute.
They may eat what you consider to be a “perfectly acceptable” amount of food, and then run off to the bathroom to rid their body of it.
They may develop “tics” such as wrapping their fingers around their wrist to “measure” it’s thinness.
They may love to bake and cook yet when asked to sample their own creation, they decline.
They may only eat certain parts of foods; for example, the crust of bread or hazelnut in a Ferro Rocher.
They may pick through a whole carton of Oreo-cookie studded ice cream, only to pick out the Oreo pieces and ruin the product while doing so.
They may chew food as if to swallow but then discreetly spit it out when they think no one is looking.
They may decline to put any food on their plate, or order anything for themselves, but may consistently ask for a bit of whatever it is you are eating.
They may be perfectly fine eating some foods, but when they eat a specific one, they vomit it all up.
They may drink 4 litres of water every time they consume a food item, as to flush away the guilt.
When they vomit they may accidentally leave flecks of it on the toilet.
Blood vessels may burst under their eyes.
Their bones may begin to protrude.
They may disappear for hours on end while they attempt to sweat out every last ounce of offending fat, real or imagined, on their body.
Understand that “the person” needs, well, understanding.
Understand that understanding comes via education.
Please understand that “the person” does not need to be told that they are gross.
That they are inconsiderate.
That they are disgusting.
That they are crazy.
That they are stupid.
That they are dramatic.
That they are wasteful.
“So skinny!!!! I’m jealous”
“I wish I had your will power”
Understand that recovery is not a continuous upward climb.
It loops, it dips, it peaks, it valleys.
Understand that there is no “magic cure”.
Every person is different.
They do not mean to hurt you.
They probably do so anyways.