In my own words: real life experiences of an eating disorder

It can be very worrying having an eating disorder and you may feel alone. However, a large number of people are affected by an eating disorder – so you are most definitely not alone.

Many of our clients tell us it can be helpful reading about some real life experiences of having an eating disorder and receiving treatment.

Here Rebecca and Megan share their personal experiences of having an eating disorder.

Q. What is it like having an eating disorder?

Having an eating disorder is difficult. It’s exhausting, lonely, depressing and scary. It distances you from everybody and can turn normal everyday things, like just getting out of bed, into an enormous struggle.

It’s not about ‘not eating’ or ‘wanting to be thin’; it’s a psychological problem with physical side effects.

Q. How do I explain to my friends that I have an eating disorder?


Just remember you don’t have to tell your friends if you don’t want to. Who you decide to share it with is completely up to you.

Sometimes, however, it helps to share it, because even if they don’t make it go away, they can help you through it.

Never underestimate the benefits of having someone to talk to, or to take your mind off it by getting out and socialising; trying to live your life as you should.

When explaining to a friend what an eating disorder is, it’s important to tell them it’s not a choice. It’s a disease that affects you in many different ways, physically and mentally. It’s not just a phase, and you can’t just snap out of it, but you are trying your best and you’re still the same person you were before they found out you had an eating disorder.

Q. Can talking to someone/going to therapy help?

Most people find it helpful. At first it’s really scary and intimidating as you may feel like you’re going to be judged, when in reality everyone just wants to help.

While the professionals are very experienced, everyone is an individual - so being as open and honest as you can helps them to offer you the best support.

You just have to be ready to want to get better and accept the help - sometimes this can be the hardest part.

Q. Does having an eating disorder make you a bad person?

Absolutely not - you didn’t choose this; having an eating disorder is not a choice.

When people seem to be frustrated, it’s not with you - it’s with the eating disorder. You will get better and when you do, you will be much stronger.

Recovery means re-discovering the real you and achieving all the things that you want to do.

Nothing is harder than battling your own mind every single day; it’s very brave recovering from an eating disorder.

Q. Does it get easier?

Yes it does. But it takes a lot of hard work, courage and determination.

Some days you will feel like giving up and you have to battle through these days. Tell yourself that tomorrow will be better, and even if it’s not, say it again the next day. Because you will get there eventually, you will get better!

Q. Can I still have an eating disorder even if I don’t look like I have one?

An eating disorder is a mental illness that affects more than just the way you look. You can’t tell how much someone is suffering by looking at them.

An eating disorder takes over your mind and it can be mental torture; you can’t see that by looking at someone.

Q. What can I say to help someone who is struggling with eating difficulties?

A few kind words and being there for someone can help much more than you think. Just being there is enough. However, here are some suggestions of things that have been said to us that helped:

  • “I’m here, I’m not going anywhere.”
  • “I think you’re really strong.”
  • “I won’t give up on you.”
  • “Take as long as you need.”
  • “This is not your fault.”
  • “Is there anything I can do?”

Q. Is recovery worth it?

Recovery is the hardest thing you will ever do, but it’s worth fighting for. The days that break you are the days that make you. It’s scary, but it’s not as scary as having to live with an eating disorder.

Q. How to deal with guilty feelings after eating

Remember that eating is an achievement not a lack of will power. You are not eating excessively you are eating enough to be healthy. Remember guilt is just a feeling and it will pass, try to use distraction activities after eating to help keep your mind focused on something more positive.

Q. How to find out more

If you have any questions, or are worried about yourself or someone else, there are lots of people and organisations that can help.

The team from the Community Eating Disorders Service are always there to help you. You can contact them in the following ways:

Community Eating Disorder Service (CEDS)
Grosvenor House
High Street

Telephone: 0161 716 4060


You can also visit:

Other sources of help: