It can happen so quickly. One comment can shoot you right down out of the sky. That happened to me today at the gym. I was down stairs lifting weights, feeling pretty good, and a woman that I see there on a regular basis came up to me and proceeds to tell me that, according to her, she thinks I look much healthier now. She says for a while I had been too thin and looked peaked and sickly. Yes, she says, I look much better now. I realize she meant to pay me a compliment and how could she know that I’m recovering from an eating disorder. However, even with knowing this, I suddenly felt fat and ugly and disgusting. There are some things you should never say to someone with an eating disorder, and that includes commenting on weight and appearance. It surprised me just how much her comments affected me. I immediately started thinking I was gaining weight which made me depressed. What an irrational conclusion based on an innocent comment! But my thoughts didn’t get any better. My knee jerk reaction was to over exercise and to start restricting to lose weight again. But I did neither. I exercised my two hours, had snack on the elliptical machine, and left. And in spite of my feelings, I adhered to my meal plan for dinner. Dinner is never easy, as it is the last meal of the day, but tonight’s dinner was incredibly hard. But I did it. Recently I have been feeling good about my recovery. I’ve kept on my meal plan, been attending my EDA (Eating Disorders Anonymous) meetings, and stayed off the scale. But even now, hours after the comment, I feel like a failure. All my successes pale in comparison to the reminder that I’m not as skinny as I used to be. It’s amazing the power that even an innocent comment can yield over someone. There’s a saying that goes “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I’m in hell because of her good intentions. I hope this will pass soon and let me start feeling good about my recovery again.
I’ve listed a few web-sites that list the dos and don’ts of what to say to those with an eating disorder. They are really insightful and helpful to friends and family of someone with an eating disorder.