10 Things This Woman Wishes She'd Known at the Height of Her Eating Disorder
Minna Lee wishes she could show her former self what she knows now.
In case you missed it, today marks the end of NEDA's National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. This year's theme, "Come as You Are," was chosen to spread the message that body-image struggles and eating disorders don't look one certain way, and are valid no matter what.
To add to the conversation, blogger Minna Lee wrote an Instagram caption to her past self. "While I wouldn't wish this upon anyone, I am thankful to be the person I am today who grew stronger and learned so much about herself because of her eating disorder," she wrote. Here, 10 things she knows now that she says she wishes she'd known at the height of her eating disorder.
1. "Your outside appearance has nothing to do with how sick you are."
Eating disorders are mental illnesses and don't always have the same physical effects. They don't affect one specific group, which can be a harmful misconception. For example, men with eating disorders are at a higher risk of dying, as they're often diagnosed later because people associate EDs with women, according to NEDA. Part of the messaging behind the association's "Come As You Are" theme is that not everyone who suffers from an eating disorder looks the same.
2. "People don't see those stretch marks + dimples like you do, and if they do...how does that make your life any worse?"
Answer: It doesn't.
3. "You WILL miss out on being able to fully enjoy your accomplishments + happiness if you keep thinking you're fine when you're not."
In a previous Instagram post, Lee listed out some of the things she missed out on because of her eating disorder and other insecurities. She recalled things like "lunches with friends that are a hazy memory because all I could obsess about was how little or much I was eating," and "standing on the podium after winning a skating competition, unable to celebrate the moment because I could only think about not fainting, having not eaten all day."
4. "More people than you realize struggle with the same things as you."
Chances are more people in your life have dealt with eating disorders than you know. Many cases are hidden or undiagnosed. An estimated 30 million people living in the United States will have an eating disorder at some point in their life, according to NEDA.
5. "You don't need to qualify for an eating disorder-there is no such thing as not sick enough."
Lee points out that you don't have to reach some marker to officially have an eating disorder-and that the category encompasses more than just well-known conditions like anorexia and bulimia.
6. "No, your eating disorder and/or your body getting to where you want it is not going to solve all your problems."
Hitting a measurement or weight isn't the key to happiness. Take it from this woman who spread an important message about transformation photos.
7. "Fitting in those pants literally makes no difference in your life, other than the fact that you fit into some pants you really don't need to be in."
In the same vein, coming to terms with what size you wear, instead of obsessing over trying to hit a smaller number, can be freeing. (Case in point: Iskra Lawrence Shared a Compelling Message About Body Dysmorphia and Disordered Eating)
8. "If food or exercise feels like a reward or punishment, it's time to take care of your mind."
In another Instagram post, Lee shared that the process of changing how she approached food wasn't quick and easy, or finite. "it has taken me 13 years since my ED started for me to really get to this place. 13 years of pain, feeling hopeless, a lot of darkness, therapy, and pure hard ass WORK to get here," she wrote. (Related: I Needed to Give Up Bikram Yoga to Recover from My Eating Disorder)
9. "You deserve to feel absolutely blissful in your own skin-but even feeling neutral is utter freedom from where you are. So start there."
Lee says she would assure her former self that any step in the right direction counts as progress.
10. "You don't have to be at your rock bottom to seek help."
And most importantly, Lee points out that everyone should feel good about prioritizing their well-being, no matter where their mindset and physical health stand.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, NEDA's toll-free, confidential helpline (800-931-2237) is here to help.