The emerging blogger series is aimed at community building through giving mental health bloggers who are early in their blogging evolution the opportunity to have their work seen by a wider audience. It’s also a way to introduce you as a reader to some newer members of our community.
This post is by Blurry Thought.
Eating Disorders Are Not A Competition
Eating disorders are complicated things – trust me, I know. They lie, manipulate, steal, and above all else they convince you that their deceptions are reality. It’s easy to write that and remind other people of the fact, but it’s a completely different ballpark when it comes to believing it myself. I wish I could believe it, but I’m currently still battling with the grips of anorexia.
Whether people like to admit it or not, there’s a somewhat unspoken competitiveness to eating disorders. I blame the stigma surrounding mental health for this. We’re told that we have to look a certain way, act a certain way, carry out certain behaviours, and have certain experiences to be able to be deemed as ‘sick’. This, in itself, is wrong. We shouldn’t have to prove ourselves to anybody. If we say we struggle with an eating disorder, then our word alone should be enough. We shouldn’t be made to feel like we’re competing to be the ‘sickest of the bunch’.
I know this because I deal with these thoughts of competition myself. I hear about somebody’s experiences with hospitalisation or the behaviours that they engage in and, no matter what, I feel invalidated. Despite the fact that I’ve been there, I still feel insecure in my disorder. I feel as if I’m not ‘sick enough’ or ‘worthy enough’ of a diagnosis. I feel like a fake – somebody putting on a façade when really I’m completely fine. But I’m not completely fine – I’m not fine at all, and this thought-path just reinforces that fact even further.
Because, if I was fine, then I wouldn’t be feeling the need to prove myself. I wouldn’t want people to think that I look sick to validate my illness. I wouldn’t feel so badly about myself and I wouldn’t care what other people thought. So, no, I’m not fine at all.
Many people throughout the community of eating disorders wear their hospitalisations or their diagnosis as a badge. They’ll brag about how many times they’ve been restrained, or they’ll post photos to showcase their progress. They’ll make it into a competition to see if they can beat out everybody else, because they feel the need to prove to others, and to themselves, that they are, indeed, sick.
This competitivity is dangerous. It is cruel, it is unfair, and it is deadly. The thing is, there is no ‘sick’ enough. We will never be satisfied. We will continue to try and compete with one another until we don’t have breath left in our lungs.
But it shouldn’t be this way. Eating disorders are not a competition – they never have been and they never will be. By making it into a competition, you’re just promoting the disorder itself. It doesn’t matter whether somebody has inpatient experiences or not, it doesn’t matter if they care about macronutrients or not – if they say they’re sick, believe them. If they tell you they’re struggling, believe them.
Society has this warped idea that you have to look a certain way to suffer from an eating disorder, and this isn’t true at all. Any person of any weight, any gender, any personality, can suffer from an eating disorder. It doesn’t matter how we look or how we act or how confident you may think they are within themselves – they could be struggling more than you know.
This competition that we’ve created around eating disorders only ends in death. There is no gold medal. You do not receive praise from trying to prove that you’re ‘sicker’ than the next person. We need to stop treating it like a race and realise that we all need help. All of us! We all need help to fight these disorders as hard as we’re fighting our instincts, and we’re all worthy of that help.
When you stop treating it like a competition and you stop caring about what other people think, you’re going to be able to flourish and really find your footing in life. You’ll be surprised that by living a life that’s true to yourself, you’ll be rewarded with so much more.
BlurryThought is a mental health blog that covers everything from daily mental health issues to related entertainment news. Whether you’re looking for the latest self-care tips or you’d rather read raw diary entries, BlurryThought is a hive of mental health content for you to explore. Aiming to combat the stigma around mental health, BlurryThought consists of real-world experiences, resources, and real words of advice.
You can find more at blurrythought.com.
Thanks so much to Blurry Thought for participating in the emerging blogger series!
You can find a listing of all of the posts in the series here.
Once or twice a week I’ll publish emerging blogger mental health-themed guest post(s) by bloggers who are early on in their mental health blogging evolution, with priority given to those whose blog has less than 50 WordPress followers. The focus is on community-building rather than just a one-off guest post.
If you’re interested in being featured in the emerging blogger series, email me at mentalhealthathome (at) gmail (dot) com with a brief description of what you’d like to write about and your blog name/URL. I’m looking for bloggers who have already had some form of connection with me or my blog, who have blogs that are focused on mental health, and who will contribute posts that are relevant to a broad mental health blogger audience. Although I may make occasional exceptions for bloggers that I have an established relationship with, generally blogs that serve a primarily commercial purpose will not be considered.