How Sick is “Sick Enough?”

10 pounds made the difference between actually living and simply surviving.  

A year ago, I based my self-worth off the number describing the gravitational pull of my body toward the earth. I felt that my body’s natural hunger cues were signs of weakness.  I believed that if I could only run longer, see a gap between my thighs, or fit into the smallest size, I would finally find happiness. 

Despite these irrational thoughts, I somehow also thought I wasn’t “sick enough” to need help.  It took me nearly two years of struggling with an eating disorder to finally see a therapist. I kept telling myself that I would eventually “snap out of it”, or that this “small problem” would eradicate itself once I achieved the life, and thus the body, I wanted. 

Regardless of my excuse, I always convinced myself that the unhealthy mindset I lived in was an illegitimate problem. My self-invalidation of the struggles I was facing was simply an excuse to remain in the comfort of my eating disorder. I was terrified of the thought of recovery and losing my power over the things I could control. By maintaining my narrative of not truly being “sick enough”, I enabled myself to continue with my unhealthy habits, focused on the impossible task of achieving the unachievable. 

But eventually, I grew tired of living a life of aspiring to be my smallest self. My only motivation was to wake up smaller than the day before. The only feeling of success I could find was in the growling of my stomach.  I was becoming a shell of who I truly was. I didn’t have the energy to pursue my passions, nor the motivation to study, to cook for myself, or the self-confidence to look at myself in the mirror without completely tearing myself apart. I strategized every meal, fought every bite, and held my breath every time I stepped on the scale. 

This was not the life I wanted, yet it was the life I had created.  And I spent too long in the vicious environment of my own disordered thoughts, merely surviving, before I realized I deserved to actually live. I decided I had spent too much of my life wishing to be smaller. 

Eating disorders are not a choice. They are a life-consuming, mentally draining, and physically demanding conflict within ourselves. The path to recovery seems daunting, and it is, but the setbacks and obstacles I have faced are exponentially worth owning a life I now love living. 

There is more to life than simply existing—to live is something greater.  And while I may be 10 pounds heavier, I’m infinitely lighter without the burden of my eating disorder sitting on my shoulders.

I wrote this because I wish someone had written it for me. I wish I had known that there is no required threshold to reach in order to achieve the title of “sick enough.” No matter what you weigh, what you look like, what gender you are, how old you are, what ethnicity you are—no matter who you are, you deserve to get better.  Healthy people do not wonder if they are “sick enough.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, there are numerous resources available to begin the transition from surviving to thriving.  

The NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) Helpline is available Monday-Thursday from 9AM to 9PM ET, and Friday from 9AM to 5PM ET at 1-800-931-2237. 

The author of this blog chose to remain anonymous. 

About the Author

Cameron Gordon Cameron Gordon is a student at the University of California at Santa Barbara pursuing a double major in English and Spanish. Both passionate about writing and promoting the importance of mental health, Gordon aspires to attain a career centered around writing and education.

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