Fatphobia was a huge obstacle in my ability to receive treatment for my eating disorder. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again; eating disorders do not have a look. It’s a mental illness that may or may not cause physical changes and the severity of the disorder is so much more complex than a BMI or a number on the scale.
Unfortunately, much of my experience in treatment was traumatic and full of weight bias; I was praised by my doctor for not eating at my first inpatient hospitalization at age 14. The treatment that was supposed to help me ended up harming me- especially throughout my teenage years.
I know my story is not unique which is why I chose to get a little more personal for Healthline here. I think this is an important conversation to bring to the table as eating disorder treatment is in need of some serious change. Read my Healthline piece for more on my experience of trying to get help for my eating disorder for the last 15+ years of my life and let me know your thoughts!
I wrote this post four months ago, right before I was miraculously given a scholarship to treatment. At that point I assumed I had no treatment options and my doctor told me I was going to die without treatment. I planned to submit it somewhere anonymously but now that I’ve shared my story, I decided to share it here. TRIGGER WARNING as this discusses weight lost and eating disorder behaviors so please take that into consideration before reading.
Last week I was rejected from an inpatient eating disorder program because I’m not underweight. I’m not underweight and therefore my eating disorder is irrelevant. I shouldn’t be surprised as this has been my experience in my twenty year battle with an eating disorder. But I still felt somewhat disappointed as it was my only option for help with the insurance I have and now I’m currently out of options.Never mind that I lost more than 1/3 of my body weight by starving myself, never mind that I force myself to throw up every single day. Never mind that my pancreas has been starting to show signs of strain or that I had a tear in my esophagus. Never mind that I passed out in the shower after my workout last week. My eating disorder is invisible and my eating disorder is irrelevant because I’m not underweight.
I often have a tough time believing that my eating disorder is problematic. Denial is pretty common in eating disorders but I have treatment centers and insurance confirming that my eating disorder doesn’t warrant additional help. Admission to inpatient and residential treatment centers are largely based on BMI. So someone who was slim to begin with, lost weight due to their eating disorder, and is now underweight can easily be admitted for treatment. Myself on the other hand? I lost 60 lbs in a couple of months and purge 2-6x a day but I only got to an average BMI. My body is always going to be naturally larger due to genetics, PCOS, and years of starving myself.