Eating Disorders - The Most Overlooked Mental Illness - Bryan's Story

Eating Disorders - The Most Overlooked Mental Illness - Bryan's Story

By Bryan Barclay



You're sitting in class with your stomach audibly rumbling, hoping the kid next to you doesn't hear - he just offered you food and you told him you wern't hungry. You try to focus your attention on the teacher, but it always comes back to your hunger. Your eyes shoot to the clock as you count down the seconds until you can leave this horrible classroom. Your attention goes strictly from the clock to your stomach and back until the bell finally rings. You leave the class in a hurry, grab your lunch out of your locker and head to the lunch room. You eat as discreetly as possible so no one questions your odd eating habits or points out how little you've eaten.

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, eating disorders have the highest death rate of any mental illness, including clinical depression, yet no one talks about eating disorders, and their severity is completely overlooked. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 10 percent of people with anorexia die from its effects. People with anorexia, as well as every other eating disorder, have an intense fear of eating. They can get to the point of malnourishment and can even starve themselves to death.

Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is a newer eating disorder that manifests in children and is the only eating disorder that is more common in boys; it is also the eating disorder I suffer from. I have no issues with my body image; in fact, I'd love to gain weight. I have an immensely small list of foods I consider safe and the rest I am unable to even try, and even if I somehow bring myself to try something, I feel like I'm going to throw up. Food outside my comfort zone is just anxiety in physical form. Any time anyone even brings up food around me, I panic and I hope that no one asks me any questions about it or offers me any.

no eating disorder is a choice. Nobody wants to be scared of eating, just like no one with mental illness wants to feel the way they feel.

I do not blame anyone who doesn't understand my eating disorder, or eating disosrders as a whole. Food is one of the largest social currencies; people talk about food constantly, people plan whole days around going out to get food, food is everywhere and nobody thinks twice about it. So it's hard for them to understand someone who can't bring themselves to eat. To them it seems as easy as "just eat it", but to someone with an eating disorder, it can seem like life and death. 


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