This post deals with eating disorders and may be triggering to some readers.
Let’s say you’re recovering from a doozy of an eating disorder, one that saturated a decade of your life and made you contemplate ceasing to exist.
I think we can all agree that it’s understandable that you may have moments of being angry that this happened to you, right? That’s reasonable. What about other folks—complete strangers—being offended that you had an eating disorder? Can you make sense of that?
I can’t. And I was the one with the eating disorder.
Singer Kasey Chambers shares what it’s like to have an eating disorder. Post continues below.
In February of 2019, cloaked in the relative anonymity of the internet, I wrote publicly about my 10 years of disordered eating. As a 13-year-old, I had started using “healthy” diets to disguise my eating disorder not only from my family but from myself.
First, I was a vegetarian and occasional vegan, then I devoted myself to plant-based “clean” eating. A decade of this left me with a long list of mysterious, relentless symptoms (including depression and suicidal ideation) that continued despite dozens of visits to doctors’ offices. It was only with the help of my husband that, starting in late 2016, I slowly found my way out of the dark.
I’d hardly whispered a word about this to anyone aside from the tiniest handful of confidants, yet something propelled me to write about it in detail and send it out into the world. I wrote that story mostly for myself, figuring a few people might find it. Maybe, I hoped, the people who found would be the very people who needed to hear a story like mine. Maybe it would make someone feel less alone. There might be a troll or two, but beyond that, I had few expectations.
As of one year later, that article has been viewed over 14,000 times (a number I can’t really wrap my head around), and I’m constantly surprised by the attention and warmth it’s received. It has reached readers who, like me, have a history of fearing food and felt utterly alone in that experience.
It’s taught other readers what the reality of living with an eating disorder can look like. If the writing of the article was part of my healing process, reading heartfelt comments and seeing the readership count soar is like balm on my bruises, a salve to help my scars fade.
But recovery is never an easy ride. I have also received comments that try to sprinkle salt in the still open wounds and pick at my scabs.
Certainly, I expected some readers to use the comment section on my article to defend vegetarianism, veganism and plant-based eating, and folks delivered. Although my article isn’t anti-vegetarianism or anti-veganism, some commenters choose to take it as such. Generally, they like to tell me I didn’t try hard enough at these diets (I did) or that I’m a failure for going back to being an omnivore (I’m not).