Living with an Eating Disorder

Lyzz, a 19 year old college student, has struggled with issues of weight, and ultimately with self-love, since childhood. Growing up, she watched her mother struggle with anorexia and endure multiple hospitalizations, feeding tubes, and seemingly endless suffering. She didn’t want to end up this way, and promised herself she would never have an eating disorder. Despite her best intention, she developed Bulimia by the time she was a teenager. With her mother as a role model, she had no idea how to have a healthy relationships with food and her body. She didn’t know how to love herself.

But most of us struggle with issues of weight, even when we have had healthy role models. The pressure to be thin in our culture is enormous, especially for girls. Thin is considered better, and eating disorders are pervasive. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 10 million people in the U.S. have an eating disorder, and 90% of these are women. Approximately 4.5% of all American high school students reported in a recent survey that they’d vomited or used laxatives as a means to lose weight in the past 30 days, and approximately 4% of college-aged females have bulimia. According to the 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 35% of adolescent girls believed they were overweight, 60% were trying to lose weight. The vast majority of eating disorders go untreated.

The numbers don’t tell the whole story. To truly understand, we have to listen to those who have been directly effected. In Lyzz’s words, “To fully grasp that terror of an eating disorder would take much more than an hour long interview. The struggle for perfection is destructive and unbearable. Not only is this goal an impossible one, but the process is crippling and fatal. An eating disorder needs you to feel imperfect, unworthy, ugly, fat, disgusting, wrong, horrible. It strips you of your health, your self worth, your life, your soul. It blames you for everything that goes wrong and berates you if you can’t fix it. You do not need to fix everything. It is not your fault. You don’t need to be perfect. You just need to be the best you can be and not be afraid of who you are. That is true beauty.”

Story first appeared on WBUR’s CommonHealth blog on February 3, 2011:


To learn more about eating disorders, visit

For support as well as information about treatment options, go to

630-577-1330 is the ANAD Eating Disorder Helpline in the United States that is open Monday-Friday 9:00am-5:00pm and provides information about symptoms and contacts for further support and treatment. The email is also available for these resources.

To listen to more stories about personal struggles with eating disorders, visit