About Anorexia Nervosa

The medical definition of anorexia is “a lack or loss of appetite for food.” For example, when my cat was ill, she had anorexia.

Anorexia nervosa, a psychological disorder, is a very different thing.

Someone with anorexia nervosa has not lost her appetite for food. She is deliberately starving herself. Of course, it doesn’t feel at all that effortlessly in your control. Someone kindly stating “just eat” doesn’t understand the disorder at all and will likely leave you feeling more hopeless and distant.

The need to starve is, on the outside, a drive for thinness. Originally stirred by a first diet or society or family pressure to be thin, the disorder takes on a life of its own. Extreme weight loss becomes the ever reaching goal; obsession really. Your life gets taken over by it.

At first, you may receive praise from family and friends on how great you look. The eating disorder gets bigger and louder. It works! You get positive attention; you feel good about yourself. The drive continues. You lose more weight. You get more positive attention. This feels great. You have control and you can do things no one else can do… starve yourself. You have power that no one else has. It feels so good. You are good.

Continuing down this path, your body thins more and more. Your thoughts of food increase. You may lose control and eat more than you want. So you restrict once again; stricter this time. Your shame at having lost control drives your new determination to restrict and to punish yourself.

Your family and friends start to show concern at your ever decreasing body. You wave them away because you feel great. Perhaps you write off their comments as jealousy; anything to keep going and losing weight.

But before you know it, you a completely obsessed with food and your weight! It’ all you think about and no one understands you. You may even realize a little bit what’s happening but your drive for thinness is ever increasing and you must persist!

At this point, you probably know this is not normal. After all, you may feel isolated and alone, ashamed and afraid.

As someone with anorexia, you may be more distant from your emotions and a desire to get help than any other eating disorder type. Anorexia robs you of being in touch with yourself and your emotions. You likely don’t feel the pain of what you’re doing. You’re just masked with the ever increased need to be thin no matter the cost. And there is a cost.. a big one!