EDNOS: My Experience With the Unnoticed Disorder

Author: Lauren S.

DSC_0055EDNOS, also known as ‘Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified,’ is an eating disorder where an individual experiences the dangerous behaviors of eating disorders but does not meet the criteria for bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, or binge eating disorder.

A common misconception with eating disorders is that to have an eating disorder, the individual must be underweight or overweight. This is not true, as many people with EDNOS have an average weight for their height. Because of this, EDNOS often goes unnoticed by many and undiagnosed. 

Growing up, my eating habits weren’t the best. Because my mom and dad were divorced, I would spend weekends with my dad and weekdays with my mom. Because my relationship with my dad was substandard, he used food as a way to make me happy. He fed me all the “junk food” he could get his hands on. My mom, on the other hand, would feed me predominantly “healthy” foods, to ensure I grew up strong. 

Once my mom passed away, I moved in with my dad, who continued to feed me nothing but “junk food”. My weight gradually crept up over the years, causing me to slowly grow insecure about my weight and appearance. 

As a child, I never really cared what people would think if they saw me eating. This blissful state lasted up until seventh grade. Because I was younger, I had nearly no knowledge of eating disorders and how serious and deadly they could be. I was always tremendously insecure about my body – even though I was at a healthy weight -, but during seventh grade, everything went downhill.

All I wanted at the time was to be popular, and I thought that losing weight would make people like me more. I decided to go on a diet so I could lose a few pounds. I searched up “the fastest way to lose weight” on google and came upon a ‘pro-ana’ website that treated eating disorders like they were glamorous. The website instructed that in order to lose weight, you had to drastically lower your calorie intake. Because I was so young and did not know how unhealthy this was, I made the oblivious decision to follow the rules on this website, in hopes to lose weight as fast as I could.

I began watching everything I ate and lowering my calorie intake a little bit each day, slowly approaching my weight goal, which was still in the healthy-weight range. Once I hit my goal, I didn’t see a difference in my body and decided to lose a few more pounds, this time, restricting my calories to far below starvation. At the time, however, I did not know I was starving myself. 

I didn’t think anything was wrong, mainly due to the fact that I didn’t even know what eating disorders were. I didn’t know I was sick. I simply wanted to lose a few pounds, nothing too extreme.

Every time I hit a goal, I continued to see myself as fat, and continued to majorly restrict my calories. Over a short period of time, it became something I lost control over. I thought I was in control when, in reality, my eating disorder was controlling me. I went days without eating anything at all. I barely had the energy to stand up, but I forced myself to workout until I nearly passed out.

A few weeks after these habits started, I experienced my first binge. After weeks of starving myself, I was obviously hungry, and my fear of food had suddenly vanished. I rapidly ate everything in sight. I wanted to stop myself, but I couldn’t.  No matter how sick and full I felt, I continued to eat, causing myself an immense amount of pain, both physically and mentally.

A wave of guilt washed over me, making me feel even more worthless than before. I had gained a vast amount of weight back, which determined me to lose even more weight. I continued restricting, and from that day on, was stuck in a binge-restrict cycle that caused me great agony.

I spent years in this never-ending cycle. Going into freshman year of high school, I had hit an all time low. I went days without eating and nearly passed out on my way home from school, so I went to the doctor a few days later to get tests done, and later found out I was extremely malnourished and my heart rate was slower than normal. I was at risk for organ failure and possibly cardiac arrest.

To me, this was a wake-up call to start recovering. I never was underweight, and I used that as an excuse to keep losing weight for such a long time, but I knew it was time to get rid of my harmful eating habits. I was unable to get professional help around this time, so it was up to me to renourish and make peace with myself.

I finally got myself into the mentality of wanting to recover and worked every day to get my life back. I stopped counting calories and began binging a lot less. I ate three average size meals a day and a healthy snack. When I craved something, I allowed myself to eat it in moderation. 

This way of recovery worked for me, but everyone has it different. No two people recover in the same way or at the same pace, and that is perfectly normal and OK. 

To this day, I still struggle with occasional relapses of my eating disorder, but I continue to work towards recovery every day.

I now know how dangerous eating disorders are. I know that the number on the scale does not show how much I am worth. My weight doesn’t define me. Food is not the enemy. It is an essential part of life.

I am learning to love myself for who I am, and that is a beautiful thing. That goes to you as well: love yourself for who you are, and no matter what, never give up.

-Lauren S.



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