May 16, 2016, 9:24 p.m.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard the words “Just Eat More” thrown at me- well, I might not quite be a millionaire, but I’d certainly have a lump sum saved for a rainy day. Those words would come from all sorts of people around me - my parents (initially), my friends, and the people I’d come to meet routinely at the gym when I told them about my eating concerns. Time and time again, I would be ‘advised’ to simply order more, or to grab an extra piece; or worst of all, a friend at a dinner party would do it for me and give me this look of victory, as if they had accomplished some sort of dignifying act of intervention. Thanks, but it doesn’t quite work like that.
Which is why I’m writing this now, as a sort of PSA. Do you know someone who has opened up to you about their eating disorder? Or maybe it hasn’t happened yet, but someone you care about may do so in the future. If, or when they do, just keep this in mind: don’t ever tell them to just eat more, and don’t ever, ever force it upon them.
The thing is: it’s never quite that simple. Restriction may be a factor of concern, perhaps the most critical to some. However, I believe that the true monster of eating disorders is something that is in the mind which can never be seen, and most importantly, can only be fought against by none other than the person affected by the eating disorder - when that person is ready. Case in point: on the occasion when my friend did order me my extra ‘rescue slice’ of pizza (and me having felt the pressure from my peers to consume it gratefully), I went through the next two days restricting. Little did they know how much of a fight and victory it had already been for me to have had that first slice, let alone the impact that their second ‘offering’ would have on me after I had eaten it. To them, I was a winner that night. But inside, being pushed beyond my own level of readiness towards recovery had taken its toll.
Today, that second slice wouldn’t mean anything to me. Heck, maybe I’d even go for my third. But the feeling of what it was like- to have those eyes pushing me eagerly towards those last few bites while I screamed inside- that is something that is still very much engrained in my memories. So remember this: let people recover at their own pace. When they’re ready, they can be the ones that can guide themselves through a battle that only they can fully understand - because it’s never, ever about just eating more.
Asaka is a recent BA Sociology graduate from the University of British Columbia, where she pursued her interests in Gender Relations and Feminist Theory. She currently lives in North Vancouver, BC, and is well into recovery after spending many of her years as a student affected by eating disorders. Having struggled largely in silence, she has now found her passion in sharing and reflecting on her personal experiences with EDs, and hopes that her recollections will provide a source of comfort and support for those who continue to fight.