Interview

‘No one noticed I was ill’

Eating disorder not other specified (EDNOS) is the most common eating disorder in the world and as deadly as anorexia and bulimia. Still there isn’t a lot knowledge about this eating disorder and the media doesn’t really cover this issue. 21-year-old Rixt suffered from EDNOS for 11 years. Fortunately, she’s been doing well for over a year and recently she fully recovered from her eating disorder.

What was your eating disorder like?
‘’When I was suffering from my eating disorder I had periods of bulimia and periods of anorexia. During my periods of bulimia, I didn’t have enough moments of binge eating and purging. During my anorexia periods I wasn’t underweighted enough to get the anorexia diagnosis. I had weird habits towards food, but at that moment I thought everything was normal. No one noticed I was ill.’’

You told me you’ve done weird things, you thought were normal. What did you do?
‘’I had periods of hardly eating anything followed by periods of ‘normal’ eating. I thought it was normal to deal with food like that and think about food 24/7. What can I eat, what should I avoid, what’s healthy and what’s unhealthy? Beside eating I was constantly thinking about compensating. I had the urge to move all the time and I forced myself to walk after I ate something, training my abs and when my stomach was full, I made myself puke.

Did you feel lonely in those days?
‘’Yes, I felt lonely. I didn’t realize I had an eating disorder till the age of seventeen and before that I didn’t talk about it with anybody. Until the age of sixteen I didn’t really have friends who were so close that I felt like sharing everything. I only had one friend who’s been in my life since kindergarten, but we weren’t going to the same high school and we didn’t talk on a weekly base. I didn’t have a lot of connection with the people who surrounded me. I’ve always been different.’’

 

What was the image you had of eating disorders before realizing you had one yourself?
‘’I thought about someone with anorexia. Therefore, I thought I didn’t have an eating disorder because I wasn’t underweighted. I didn’t know anything about EDNOS and because of that I’ve been suffering from an eating disorder too long.’’

How did you find out you had an eating disorder?
‘’When I was 17 I was on one of my anorexia episodes and one of my friends asked me if I didn’t have an eating disorder. I denied because I was still eating. I was convinced that people who were suffering from an eating disorder didn’t eat at all. I thought my behavior torwards food was totally normal. But the comment of my friend made me think about myself and I decided to talk to the social worker at school. She sent me to the doctor and I ended up at GGZ Leeuwarden for therapy.’’

Did your therapy help?
‘’No The treatment was focused on my eating habits and didn’t focus on the problems that caused my eating disorder. They thought, when you have healthy eating habits, you’re fully recovered. It doesn’t work that way. When you’re suffering from an eating disorder you know there are other problems that cause you’re unhealthy eating habits, but you just don’t know which problems. That’s why it’s so important to take a look at those problems and solve those instead of the bad eating habits.’’

Did you hope seeing anorexic girls would motivate you to lose weight?
‘’Yes, I’ve had moments where I thought skinny girls could motivate me. During my anorexic episodes I thought that I would get diagnosed with anorexia if I just lost some extra weight. Anorexia is well known and you feel like it would be so much easier if you have that diagnoses as well. People finally see you and realize how sick you are. Those thoughts just prove you’re just as sick, it just took some time before I started realizing that.’’

EDNOS is quite an unknown eating disorder, do you think it would have helped you if there was more attention for this disease?
‘’I think I would have felt more accepted and understood if EDNOS was just as known as anorexia and bulimia. To this moment EDNOS gives you the feeling you’re stuck in the middle and not ill enough to get diagnosed. I think it would be a good thing if all eating disorders were getting the same amount of attention like that I would have known about mine way before. Believe me, it took a while before I realized I needed help.’’
How are you doing at the moment?
‘’I am doing good. I am lucky to have amazing people in my life who are really close to me and give me the feeling I can share everything with them. I haven’t had any eating problems for about a year and a half and I don’t think I will ever fall back. Back in the days I saw my sensitivity as something negative, now I realize it’s a gift. Life is so much better without an eating disorder.’’ •

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