Causes of Eating Disorders

6 Apr

Warning: this post is not going to have pictures & it is not particularly positive. Sorry in advance for rambling, and feel free to ignore this one if ya want 🙂 I will not be offended


Something that I have recently become interested (obviously because of my ed) in is how eating disorders start. If someone were to ask me this question months ago, I probably would simply say that my eating disorder was a result of wanting to be the “best” and as “beautiful” as the women on ads and on tv. However, the more I think about it and the more i’ve talked it out with therapists, the more I am starting to think that there is a deeper cause. Sure, I simply wanted to lose a few pounds, but why wasn’t I satisfied with myself as I was? I was not overweight.

Another question I have been playing with in my head is if things like eating disorder are inevitable to certain people and/or personality types. Meaning, are they just waiting to emerge by some unknown trigger? I’m not sure. I do tend to go with the saying that “everything happens for a reason” & I do believe my eating disorder served a purpose, but exploring the trigger has been pretty revealing and fascinating to me.

I want to share something with you that I believe has contributed to shaping my eating disorder. This is something personal and it is something that I really do not feel comfortable going into detail about (i’m sorry, I will not answer questions about it on e-mail most likely) so a huge blank is going to be involved in this story but I truly believe this could be the trigger to my eating disorder and it is something I want to share.

I had attended the same private school since second grade. This school was everything to me- it was where my best friends were, it was where I learned to write cursive, multiply and divide, play field hockey, make friends, and even kiss boys. But for a reason I will not share, I was forced to switch schools for my senior year of high school and enter a public school that was much different from the school I had grown up at.

I was always a very confident person. I knew who my friends were at school (or so I thought), I tried hard in school and valued my grades, and I was involved in sports. I didn’t doubt my place or myself. I approached my new school with open arms, but I certainly felt out of my element. There was no field hockey team and so I made friends by being close with a girl who I had known from my temple (she reads my blog :] ). I am so lucky that I had her because she truly helped me survive that year. Thanks Leslie, you have no clue how much that meant to me. Despite this, I just wasn’t me.

I went through the year, maintaining a long distance relationship with Gardner, and though I felt happy at the time with my situation, I was really struggling. I slowly lost contact with almost all of my friends from my old school. People who I thought were my best friends seemed to be making little-to-no effort to stay in touch with me (i was only 10 minutes away) and they all seemed so happy.

They were doing all of the things that I had looked forward to for so long (literally since 2nd grade).

They had kindergarten buddies. They got to leave campus for lunch. They got to occupy the senior lounge. They got to have senior night for their sporting events. They went on senior trip. They had senior project. They graduated in beautiful white dresses.

& I had to just watch.

I tried to go on with my life and I convinced myself that I was ok. I convinced myself that I didn’t need those people and that I was happy at my new school. The truth was, I was hurting badly.

In the meantime, I decided I wanted to lose some weight to look better/feel better/whatever. & you know how that goes.

I don’t know for sure if these two things are related whatsoever but I do know that I felt much more unsure about who I was around the time I started toying with the idea of weight loss.

Writing this is hard for me. The whole experience of switching schools (for reasons I wish I felt comfortable sharing) took a huge toll on my family (my sister switched too) and I know that I put them through a lot. To be honest, truly thinking about this experience still puts tears in my eyes and fills me with resentment and anger but the fact of the matter is, I believe everything happens for a reason.

Despite what people at my old school may have thought of me and my family (or still think of us), I know I am an intelligent, friendly, caring, genuine, and dedicated person and so are my family members. I know that we are good enough.

I don’t know if I would have gotten into my dream school (Wisconsin) if it wasn’t for the switch of schools. I don’t know if I would have had an eating disorder (and that is ok- because like I said, I have learned a lot from it). I don’t know if I’d be the person who I was today. I don’t know where I’d be, and that is ok.

Even though I resent my eating disorder, it has taught me so much about myself. I wouldn’t change anything in my past and though it pains me to think of these past experiences, I will never regret anything and I will never let my resentment and bitterness rule my life again.

Do you believe something triggered your eating disorder if you have had one?

Do you think that certain people are predisposed to getting eating disorders?

If you read this, thank you so much for your time. This felt really good to get out. I urge you to think harder about what may have triggered your ed (if you have one) because sometimes knowing the source of a problem is just what it takes to fix it.

HAVE A GREAT REST OF YOUR WEEK!! i’ll have another post soon enough 🙂 love you all to pieces, you make my day!




65 Responses to “Causes of Eating Disorders”

  1. theemptynutjar April 6, 2010 at 8:37 pm #

    it is interesting how u comment that when a person does not know who one is…issues can arise. i think that might be true.
    u r a trooper shelley and u are strong.

  2. Lily @ Lily's Health Pad April 6, 2010 at 8:41 pm #

    Yes, I believe people are predisposed to eating disorders, although a predisposition does not mean it’s certain to happen.

    I’m sorry to read about your senior year experience. 😦

  3. Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine April 6, 2010 at 8:42 pm #

    Shelley, you are so brave for sharing this. I’m sorry you dealt with so much stress your senior year- mine wasn’t peachy either, but I’m glad we both came out on top 🙂

    I think certain personality types are absolutely more likely to develop ED. Perfectionism definitely plays a huge role in it…I was happy before I started losing weight, but never felt good enough. I really hate to say this because I know my mom loves me, but I truly believe that she was the biggest trigger in my self-consciousness. I wasn’t fat, but I wasn’t skinny, and she constantly made comments about how I should start eating less and exercising more in order to “whittle my middle.” Interestingly, my mom has admitted to starving herself in college- she used to fast on Diet Cokes and saltines for a few days, usually until she was forced to eat a meal after passing out. People say there’s also a genetic factor to ED, and I don’t doubt that for this reason. It’s just strange to me that she put pressure on me even after suffering herself. We’re not super close, so I don’t want to ask her about it, but it’s something I never want to subject my own daughter to.

    I lost a lot of friends my senior year of high school too, because of some circumstances that made me not really “myself.” It’s clear from this blog that you are an absolutely beautiful person, and that anyone who doesn’t want to be in your life, doesn’t deserve to be. I’ve read this blog since you started it, and the confidence you’re redevelopped since ED is truly amazing. You’re an inspiration, girl!! xoxo

  4. Lauren April 6, 2010 at 8:44 pm #

    There is a definite relation between our pasts and ED’s. I sometimes try to examine and uncover the exact reasoning behind my past and if it lead me to the decisions I made or did not make; however, I think if we spend too much time dwelling on the why, we forget to realize any positive outcomes of the situation. For example, look at the person you have become because of the experiences you endured. You are not only stronger, healthier and wise, you are more beautiful than ever, inside and out and you have the unique ability to relate to others who are suffering now.

    Take care sweetheart!

  5. Katey April 6, 2010 at 8:45 pm #

    Shelley my story is actually almost identical to yours.. I didn’t have to switch schools, but I was shunned from my group of friends. I know exactly how it feels. I’m so sorry that this happened to you, you are such a wonderful, inspiring person. Although I was never diagnosed w/ an ED.. I definitely had very ED behaviors… and I think a lot of that stems from my “everything needs to be perfect” personality.. my life was very structured from the start.. (my dad is disabled.. so it had to be that way) But yes, I agree that some people are more likely to get ED’s than others. I believe my issues with friends in school caused my eating problems.. It all started when I had no friends.. It seemed that I had nothing, I know that’s wrong now.. but that’s what I felt then. If you ever need to talk to anyone about this.. I’m here for you.

    My email is :


  6. adrienmelaine April 6, 2010 at 8:47 pm #

    You have been through hell and are coming back- I love that you have the strength to post this.

    I think that some people are predisposed to eating disorders, and I also believe that genetics play a part in that as well.

    I know for me, it wasn’t one event that created my eating disorder- it was a series of events that I didn’t have the proper skills to process and deal with- so instead of talking, I worked out and counted calories. That to me was easier then talking about what I was really struggling with. Control was huge for me in my eating disorder and it’s sad, but also true that food is the easiest thing to control (until it eventually controls you).

    Keep up the amazing work you’ve been doing on your recovery- love you girl!

  7. Stacy April 6, 2010 at 8:49 pm #

    As much as people want to blame the media for eating disorders it just isn’t the cause – that’s not to say that it doesn’t provide a great scapegoat – but it’s not the cause. It could be the reason way over 60% of Americans are on a diet – but only 3-4% of Americans ever develop an eating disorder — so something else must be going on there. Those 3-4% use dieting as a means of coping and there enters ED. For me there were a bunch of triggers from an early age – my parents were always on a diet and everything was weigh centric and I learned that gaining weight = misery. At the time my ED developed my father completely shut off from everyone and he was the person I was closest to so my ED was a way to revert back to my childhood and try and hold onto the past. Later on in HS it was a way to deal with a sexually abusive boyfriend and take back control of my body. And along the way every time I got to my goal weight my life would click into place so for me losing weight was a way to control what was going on in my life and if things were shitty it ‘magically’ made it all better, an unfortunate coincidence. This took me a couple years to figure out – when I first started the weight loss process in 6th grade my excuse was because I was auditioning a lot for musicals and commercials and I had to lose weight to be an actress.

  8. Gina April 6, 2010 at 8:50 pm #

    Yes, I totally agree that there is more to an eating disorder than just wanting to lose some weight. I’ve thought about for what reasons my eating disorder developed, and it really has been an eye-opening experience and I’ve learned a lot about who I am. I also agree that eating disorders tend to develop in people who have certain “perfectionistic” personalities. I think it’s great that you are thinking about what is behind your eating disorder, because I think that it will make it much easier to recover mentally when you know why it started in the first place. Thank-you so much for your blog- your strength in beating this thing is so inspiring!

  9. Amanda @ . seek . April 6, 2010 at 9:16 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your story with us, Shelley. I know how hard it is to look back and remember bad times, and I admire you for doing so.

    I definitely believe that what triggered my ED was a need to regain control in my life. All of a sudden I found myself in a position where everything I had planned for the future went up in flames, and I couldn’t handle the anxiety that came along with feeling out of control. So, to get back the sense of control, I began to control my diet/weight and it eventually turned into an ED.

    I do tend to believe that certain people and personality types are predisposed to developing an ED. If you look at the people who have an ED, a lot of common traits run among them. Perfectionists. High achievers. OCD tendencies. Highly anxious. It seems like the seed of an ED is planted in certain people, waiting for something to trigger it and make it start growing.

  10. Eleanor April 6, 2010 at 9:21 pm #

    Shelley, this was absolutely amazing to read. Thank you for sharing this – it is hard to revisit sad and dark places, but you were very brave to have done so and you did incredibly well.

    I don’t know where I stand on the trigger thing. It might be genetic, it might be a social influence, it might be an honest attempt at losing weight that goes wrong… It could be anything, but whatever causes it and however it comes about, it will always be a different story for everyone.

    It’s shocking just how big an impact such a small thing can have on us. We have no idea what’s going to affect us; it’s really just chance and circumstance.

    However this E.D. came about for you, and for whatever reason, it’s served a purpose in your life. You’ve learnt a lot, you’ve experienced a side of life that other people you know will never experience, you’ve grown stronger and wiser and braver.

    Again, thank you so much for sharing this.
    You really are an amazing girl.


  11. Maggie @ Fit.Fun.Food April 6, 2010 at 9:21 pm #

    I think I was uncomfortable with my curvy body since I was 7 or 8, even though I hid it well and seemed like a happy, carefree girl with a lot of friends and a lot of life in her. Then I was going through a period of change in my freshman year of college and I also decided to “lose a couple pounds” just to “see if I could.” Then it slowly became a way to ignore the fact that I didn’t know who I was or who my friends were.
    I think it was partly my situation and also my Type A personality. I like challenging myself and working hard. But that can be taken to unhealthy extremes.

    Thanks for this post, girl! You truly are a role model!

  12. Jenna April 6, 2010 at 9:23 pm #

    What a great post Shelley! As bad as an eating disorder is I have learned soo much about myself!!
    Jenna xo

  13. whydeprive April 6, 2010 at 9:57 pm #

    Ive known pretty much since the beginning what triggered my eating disorder. My therapist confirmed it, but I knew all along.
    For me, it was a method of coping. Yes, I wanted to lose weight, but I was losing weight in a healthy way already. So the ED was like my outlet.
    There was this boy, and I loved him (I will always love him, but that doesnt mean I want him back).

    He was supposed to be with me, and then one day he chose my friend instead. Just all of a sudden, out of the blue. To say I was devastated would be an understatement.

    I did a lot of horrible, horrible things to try and get him back, and I just couldnt handle it all anymore. I had struggled a little with my ED before that, but thought I had it under control. And I did, until then. It was the only thing in my life that was mine. It was the only thing I could control, and it gave me something else to focus on.
    I did not care what I looked like to other people, I did not care what the media said was beautiful. That had nothing to do with it in my case. It was just my way of coping with all the other things that I couldnt handle.

  14. Danielle April 6, 2010 at 9:59 pm #

    I definitely think there’s a predisposition to an eating disorder. I guess maybe a personality trait where people like to be in control…

    Thanks for sharing your story Shelley. It does feel good to get stuff out & you’re stronger because of it 🙂

  15. Gabriela (froyolover) April 6, 2010 at 10:14 pm #

    Wow, Shelley….
    I never thought about it this way.
    You know, you could be 100% right!
    But I´m sure of one thing – ED causes are always deep. They´re never too superficial.
    Well-done, girl!
    I hope you´re doing fine 🙂
    Have a wonderful week!
    Brazilian XOXO´s,

  16. Marcy Leeman April 6, 2010 at 10:15 pm #

    Wow, you have no idea how coincidental this is…….Love you!

  17. jqlee April 6, 2010 at 10:15 pm #

    Hey Shelley. Thanks for sharing your story. I think you are right in thinking that the switch from schools may have triggered your ED. When people are put into strange settings where they don’t feel comfortable then they turn to something that they can find comfort or control in. I think that’s what happened with me too. I am a total city girl so I dreaded come back to school for the Fall semester. Since I had taken the previous spring semester off to do an internship, I lost touch with a lot of people. So when I came back in Fall, I didn’t have those connections plus I hated being in the “country.” I occupied myself with food and exercise and I think that’s really what happened to me.

    In addition, I am a total type “A” so I am always seeking for what I think is “perfection.” Sadly, that meant being as thin as celebrities.

  18. Mandiee April 6, 2010 at 10:20 pm #

    I agree with you that everything happens for a reason, as did my weight loss (not ED related, but hard, especially the situation that caused it, none the less). It’s great that you are able to have a positive outlook looking back at situations that were difficult at the time. You have learned a lot and have obviously matured a lot from all of these situations. Thank you for being courageous in sharing such a personal journey with us.

    Have a lovely day!

  19. Bri April 6, 2010 at 10:23 pm #

    Thanks so much for sharing Shelley, your such a strong women. I don’t know if I would ever have the guts to share something that personal with anyone. I think your changing schools probably acted as trigger as did switching to college triggered all my body image issues. Your on a good track now so keep on it girl! I’m so proud of your progress 🙂

  20. Chelsea April 6, 2010 at 10:38 pm #

    I have obviously been exploring what may have triggered my ED with my therapist for quite some time. What I believe happened is that I had to witness the loves of lives, my parents, fight. We had always led this “perfect-family life” and it pained me to hear the words they shared to one another and the tenseness that was present in our home and still go out in the public and pretend everything was okay. Then I went off to college (which I think can be a huge trigger for people with ED because it is such a big change) and I was lonely and struggling to leave my friends behind and make new friends. I had grown so accustomed to having my group of friends that I had known for years to having to make new friends. I had forgotten how. And knowing that my family was not there with me was really hard. Food kept me company and food obsession and exercise kept my mind occupied so I wouldn’t have to dwell on my loneliness. I think it is good for us to explore our past hardships and learn from them. Like my therapist said, “An eating disorder is one of the hardest things to go through but when you recover you will know yourself so much better.”

  21. Marina April 6, 2010 at 10:54 pm #

    Thank you for telling us this.
    I don’t know what the main reason for my disorder is, but, I was never satisfied with myself, or confident.Since elementary school, I felt ugly and stupid. That continued in highschool too, but I did became for confident there. However, my best friend was anorexic, and that the loss of my father…it all took its toll on me.
    I guess I channel my other problems towards problems with food, which I think is pretty often in people struggling with eating disorders.

  22. imaginenamaste April 6, 2010 at 11:07 pm #

    I can’t tell you the one reason all this has gone on….I was always the awkward kid. Always.

    Thanks for sharing your story! I very much believe that everything in our life shapes up, whether that me positive or negative and those things that teach us.

  23. Salah April 6, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

    There was a point in my life where I had a drinking problem, and when I decided to cut the drinking out I stopped eating, then I couldn’t stand not eating anymore so I just binged all the time. It had nothing to do with the way I looked whatsoever….it had EVERYTHING to do with the fact that I was raped. This is something that I don’t tell a lot of people but your post really touched me and I wanted to share that with you. I have learned a lot (just like you have with your ed) from the rape and the whole drinking/eating issues and now I am trying to educate young women on self defense and taking care of their bodies.

    Thank you for your post. You really are an amazing girl!

  24. julia April 7, 2010 at 1:53 am #

    Hey lovely girl!
    I recognize this so much, because one of the triggers for me was going to a different school too. Not that it was totally bad or horrible, but like you…I just wasn’t myself and if I look back…I was insecure.
    I also believe there’re triggers and that some persons fall into an ED, while others stop after dieting for a while. I believe that has something to do with genetics. So bad luck: genetics, triggers, circumstances…and that’s it.
    But like you…I’ve learned so much and I came out so much stronger.

    Thanks for sharing. Thanks for making me recognize myself in your story:)

    xxx Julia (Taste of Living)

  25. Sara K April 7, 2010 at 2:50 am #

    Shelley, this was a very important post- I’m glad you took the time to write it. I personally believe that certain people are predisposed to eating disorders (though starvation resulting from other circumstances like war or poverty could trigger ED-like symptoms due to the malnourishment.) I also believe that with these predisposed people, that it’s just a matter of time that something “triggers” the ED…I suppose it’s my way of not regretting what anorexia put me through.
    Mine was triggered by not knowing how to deal with my emotions/being unhappy with how i looked and thus focusing on obsessing about weight loss.

  26. tatiannalives April 7, 2010 at 5:29 am #

    This is beautiful Shelley 🙂 Even if you don’t feel comfortable disclosing the entire situation, it’s a great thing that you are able to analyze yourself and express it to us in this way.

    Personally, I think we have some type of gene that needs to be triggered for an eating disorder to develop. Even though I was overweight when I started dieting, I wasn’t remotely unhappy with my body. The feelings of insecurities I had were spurred on by the dieting – not the other way around.

    I know what triggered my eating disorder – it was a bunch of things that really affected my self-esteem. A relationship with my best friend in the world ended abruptly, and I was left all alone in the midst of an already obsessive diet. There were also some other incidents leading up to this that contributed as well – being bullied by my sister all throughout my childhood, and having my riding coach betray me by selling my horse behind my back.

    All of these things caused me to turn to dieting because it was the only thing I felt in control of. It was like everything was spinning so fast around me, and it was the only thing I could grab on to.

    You are so strong Shelley, and not a day goes by where I don’t admire you, and think about the amazing feat that you have overcome. I have told you so many times hoe much you have already helped me – you seriously saved my life 🙂

    ❤ Tat

  27. The Candid RD April 7, 2010 at 6:34 am #

    Fantastic post. I have had this same question for several years. I don’t think I will ever know what triggered my eating disroder, but oddly my situation was quite similar to yours! I was never overweight, but I just felt like I wanted to be the best at something. I wasn’t the best at anything so I figured I could be the “skinniest” girl, which I definitely was. I had moved from a public school to a private all girls school in high school and it was very tough at first. No softball (my favorite sport!) and no guys (WHAT?!) crazy. It was rough. I had to compare myself to a school FULL Of girls! Ugh.
    I also think my type A personality played a huge role, for sure. If I wanted something, I was and still am always determined to get it!

  28. Lia April 7, 2010 at 6:52 am #

    Yes, I agree that both background and biology contribute to eating disorders. Mine started when my dad was very sick from cancer. I also had a tendency to perfectionism which I’ve since tried to kick…
    Oh, and once I lost my dad, I stopped believing that things happen for a reason. People always say, “Things happen for a reason,” but they never look you in the eye and say, “Your dad died for a reason.”
    Yeah, I’m still working through the bitterness, and I’m so glad that you have conquered yours!!
    I know you said you wouldn’t answer but I still want to know why you switched schools?? Surely the reason you switched was also a stress factor in addition to the actual change?

  29. Lindsay April 7, 2010 at 6:54 am #

    Thanks for sharing. I think it takes a lot of confidence to do so and that is amazing! Just realizing what triggered this is huge and a great inspiration to all.

  30. Katie April 7, 2010 at 7:48 am #

    Mine is directly linked to stress/needing control. When life gets out of control food I can still control. I know this and have been battling it for years now. Mine started in middle school because I was not popular, lacked a friend support system, school was hard and I just wasn’t handling it well. I switched some things around and it helped for a bit. Then I went to college hit rock bottom came home and my weight is FINALLY where it should be, but at times (like now!) when I’m stressed and things aren’t in my control I do have a tough time fighting the urge to restrict or over exercise. It’s a slow road isn’t it? I’ve been trying for a year and I know I may never fully heal, but it’s not running my life anymore and that’s a good thing. I started running distance and somedays I eat only because I know if I don’t then my ability to run will be diminished and I don’t want to lose that when I just smashed my Half Marathon PR.

  31. kayla April 7, 2010 at 8:48 am #

    fantastic post.
    truly inspiring to read.
    i hope more of us can get to the “trigger” of our ED’s.

  32. Can You Stay for Dinner April 7, 2010 at 8:59 am #

    This level of introspection and understanding takes most people years to get to. You seem to have really really learned a lot about yourself. And like you said, even though it was hard and so painful, you have gained such strength and self awareness from it. I’m so sorry to hear that you had such a traumatizing experience, it must have been so hard. High school is such a crucial age of cultivating our sense of self and disruptions/changes can be really damaging.
    I do think that certain people are predisposed to eating disorders, just as with all addiction. I believe that obsession can be born from need to escape reality, and that is what I tried to do for most of my life by eating myself to morbid obesity.

    Thanks for sharing, Shell! You are so so amazing. Believe that!
    Love you and your writing

  33. Gina G April 7, 2010 at 9:18 am #

    hey Shelley! i know you have already heard this, but you are such a wonderful person and i want to thankyou for everything you have not only shared with us but what you did for you! You showed us that anything is possible, we all have obstacles but really life is full of them and I believe they were put there only to make us stronger. For me it’s kind of difficult to talk about it with my mom or just anyone in general (i never found the right therapist so i just did it on my own) because my friends all backed out when I needed them most and my mom says the reason I don’t have them anymore is b/c I scared them away. I understand that to a certain point, but I still felt like friends are supposed to be there for you no matter what. I actually think one of the main reasons contributing to my ed was my friends. My friends were going through so much at home and I put there problems on my shoulders. Since I had no way of “fixing” anything for them, I was only able to listen, I took control of the only thing I could (my weight). In the end it backfired by losing the people I was trying to be there for and loved. And in addition I lost my strength to compete in kickboxing/martial arts, which was my passion. I am now starting to gain confidence and be the person i want to be, but i don’t think I could of done it without the support of my family. im so sorry this is a mile long, but thankyou for everything.

  34. Naomi(onefitfoodie) April 7, 2010 at 9:24 am #

    hey lady!

    yes I do thikn that some people are predisposed to eating disorders. I mean that in that enviornment can have a HUGE impact on this. If you grew up in a household wiht parents who withheld food from you or didn’t let you eat certain things, OR only fed you certain things in fear that you would gain weight, this could be a cause right there

    also, the location you grow up. If you grow up where everyone is dressed to the nines and there is lots of pressure at school, with students always pushing to look their best and outbeat the next…this can cause a HUGE problem in terms of eating. I just remember in HS, a certain group of girls were the ‘it’ girls, the popular ones, and during lunch time, they NEVER ate lunch! they just went and socialized, and never ate. It caused a whole slew of girls to do the same thing…its a vicious cycle.

    I am so thrilled to hear about your journey and how well you are doing!

    you are so strong and an inspiration!

  35. MelissaNibbles April 7, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    Thank you for sharing this. I imagine changing schools during your last year was hell. I’m sorry 😦

    I think people are predisposed to eating disorders and all it takes is an outside influence or event to trigger it.

  36. Tori April 7, 2010 at 10:55 am #

    Your story is so much like mine it’s freaky! I moved to a new town my Junior year of High school because my mom remarried. That’s when I started displaying ED symptoms. I think a lot of things triggered my disorder, but moving was a huge part of it, I know. I lost touch with friends, and I just changed all together.

    ❤ Tori

  37. molly b April 7, 2010 at 10:57 am #

    I think finding the “trigger” can be very complex because I think that the cause is multidimensional and related to genetics, family background, trauma, and culture. I know that my ED started immediately after I was raped. But I was already slightly underweight naturally, so why did I cope through an ED? This is where I think biological predispositions, personality traits, and cultural influences come into play.

    But the most important thing is to replace unhealthy coping mechanisms with healthy ones in order to gain life back!

  38. nattietan April 7, 2010 at 11:17 am #

    I’m glad you know and acknowledge the qualities you possess and as long as you know how wonderful a person you are, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Of course, it’s always easier said than done no matter how true. You’ve come a long way and while you were strong before, you’re even stronger now.

    I’m pretty sure something triggered off my ED, or rather, a build-up of a few different things and like you, I used to think that EDs resultant from a desire to look better, more beautiful. Of course, having had it, I realised that it is far more complicated than just that.

    There are definitely girls, I believe, how consciously restrict solely to lose weight, but on the most part, I think that there are biological predispositions contributing to EDs. However, whether the ED gets triggered off also depends on one’s social environment in my opinion. It’s a really tough question to answer though… makes me brain go all twisted just thinking about it. Lol.

    You’re so brave in sharing what you’ve shared and I want you to know that I think you’re a beautiful person inside and out!

    Nat xoxo

  39. blueeyedheart April 7, 2010 at 1:09 pm #

    I think that there is definitely something that predisposes a person to an ED… the same circumstances might not affect two people in the same way. I’m not 100% sure what triggered mine, to be honest. It’s wonderful that you’re thinking about it, though… even if you’re not going to be in the same situation again (um… repeat high school?! No thanks), it helps to know what caused it.

    ❤ ❤

  40. highonhealthy April 7, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

    Thank you for posting this Shelley. You are incredibly brave and it’s not easy to talk about this stuff – I know because I still CAN’T talk about it. Not really.

    I’m not quite sure what triggered my ED but one of the main things was most likely my depression and general unhappiness with myself and with life. Food was a way for me to cut myself off from the world. It gave me excuses and although it made me spiral into a darker place than before, it helped me find something to focus on. My mom also didn’t help matters. I know she loves me but the way she agreed with me about needing to lose weight when I obviously didn’t need to lose any, and the way she pushed me to keep exercising.. I think that made things worse.

    I’m not sure if certain people are disposed to ED’s, it can definitely happen to anyone, but I think certain situations make them more of a possibility.

  41. one healthy apple April 7, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this story. I have to say that I’m lucky and was able to get myself out of a full conventional eating disorder before I got too deep, but I had a lot of disordered eating.

    I too was dealing with life changes and like many others, it was the only way to maintain some control in my life. Plus, I was tired of carrying around the extra weight, but that because secondary.

    I’m so glad you are doing well and love to hear your progress!

  42. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) April 7, 2010 at 4:18 pm #

    Hi Shelley, from what I understand in all my psychology and research, there is a core element that is just hardwired. And yes, hasn’t it been shown over and over that Type A, goal oriented, (anal) over achiever types are more prone to EDs? I am pretty sure the statistics will bear that out. Anyway though, yes, certain ppl are more inclined and of the ones who are inclined, part of it is genetics, but then i do believe that various environmental triggers happen to bring it on. B/c not everyone who is Type A get an ED.

    Great post, thanks for your honesty and candor and insightful post.

  43. Kelly April 7, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

    Oh Shelley…I will NEVER just ignore what you write. It is so good for you to get your feelings out and really explore. I totally believe that eating disorders stem from a much deeper place than just wanting to be “thin” and I completely believe that there is a trigger. I tend to believe it is about control. I think when someone’s life feels out of control they reach out for something (anything) to control. Some people become workaholics and other people become addicted to exercise. Some people develop eating disorders and they control that part of their life. It is almost like a subconsious feeling of being able to control and maintain something in their life. I am no expert by any means but it seems like when things start to go out of control is when people start trying to control something to make themselves feel more grounded.

  44. Jennifer April 7, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

    I think that this blog has been such a great opportunity for you to share your feelings about your past and your current struggles without actually having to tell someone face to face all the time. One thing that stuck out to me that you said was that you know that you and your family were enough. The word enough is a powerful word. Why do we go out of our way to be better or to be more beautiful or skinner or more rich? Because we first don’t think that ourself as an individual is enough. But we must learn that if we are healthy and happy then we are certainly more than enough for this world.

  45. Emily April 7, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

    thank you for sharing this with us. in a way, you are lucky to know a big source of the cause to your eating disorder. as with me, it took a lot of thought and therapy to figure it all out. there was never a big event that simply triggered it, it was a whole mess of things put together.

    and yes, I do believe there is somewhat of a predisposition to eating disorders. it is in my genes, so maybe that had something to do with it. and also, those “type” personalities can play a big role.

  46. Megan April 7, 2010 at 5:34 pm #

    Heck yes I believe that something “triggered” by eating disorder. There always is that one thing that sets something in side of you off. For me actually, I believe there were a couple things that set it off that all happened kind of at once. What helped form or shape my eating disorder though are things that happened to me in my child hood.

    Honestly, I think there are certain personality types that are predisposed to developing an eating disorder. It’s just all how a person manages and uses their personality type that determines whether or not they’ll it develop negative outcomes I guess. I’m a perfectionist and I believe that this helped facilitate my ED. I love competition as well and I feel that with being a perfectionist, I always have to strive to be the best at everything that I do. I’m very critical… of myself and of others as well. And when I see one little thing wrong, I have to go go go and fix fix fix until it is PERFECT. Even if that is my weight.. or the number on the scale… or the eliptical…

    Ugh.. it’s such an aweful circle.

  47. Molly April 7, 2010 at 7:58 pm #

    Shelley you are such an amazing and beautiful young woman. I know how hard it must have been & slightly uncomfortable to put yourself out there like you did in the post. I am so grateful that you did address this issue though. That must have been so hard your senior year. I am really sorry that happened to you and your family. I bet you are a much stronger & much more confident girl now though. You learn through mishaps sometimes & grow spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

    I have never had an eating disorder but I would say I have had disordered eating periods. I remember in highschool when it all began because the boy I was dating at the time encouraged me verbally to lose weight, etc.. I was not even overweight I was so healthy maybe 5’5” and 126lbs. Silly me listened and basically ran cross country consuming like what nothing but coffees, popcorn, 1 ho ho a day and dinner from my family… then the summer was even worse lifeguarding. Sorry ugh and that is how my big body image issue begun I think.

    Love you pretty girl! Love reading your blog as well :o)

  48. gateauxbellehelene April 8, 2010 at 4:26 am #

    Shelley you are so brave for writing this. Whatever happened at school must have been awful, especially as you can’t speak about it and you had to move schools. it was heartbreaking when you said that you had to watch your friends doing all the things you couldn’t.
    You must be so proud of yourself coming so far with your eating disorder. Keep strong xx

  49. Karin April 8, 2010 at 9:16 am #

    Thanks for sharing your story Shelley. I can completely relate to your story though mine was different. However, there was a trigger too. I’m glad that I didn’t fall too deep into the ED hole but it’s left its mark nevertheless.
    That post is truly amazing and I love your honesty. So thanks again 🙂

  50. lizzyj1305 April 8, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    Hey gorgeous girlie!!
    i heart you and this truely RAW/eye-opening post! It’s hard for me to understand where girlies with eating disorders are coming from, so I definitely try and read posts like these! I am always a little nervous to say something offensive on my blog, or nervous to get a reaction to me posting a pic of myself in a bikini because I know that some girls are in different foodie mind-states than I am. So thank you for these heartfelt words! I hope you’re having a great thursday!

  51. Katherine: What About Summer? April 8, 2010 at 11:01 am #

    Thank you so much for such a thoughtful post. I know it’s difficult because, for me, there was no traumatic event or one thing growing up that I can link the ED to. Exercising just got to be fun and eating lost its appeal and became almost embarrassing for me.
    I’m glad you’re so honest about it and can bring up such a great discussion.


  52. Kylee (Little Hat) April 8, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    Thanks for sharing, Shelley. I’m glad you could (mostly) get this off your chest. I think about these things a lot. There are so many different things that could have been the trigger for me. But I’m really not sure. Maybe we are predisposed? I know there is research that indicates genetics could play a part, and I definitely fit the personality type, and my mom suffered from bulimia in her twenties. Who knows, really? It’s a lot to think about, I try to dissect it in my mind, but I can’t really pinpoint one thing. I think, like you, I was just really unsure of who I was. Take care love! -Kylee

  53. Kate April 8, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    great post and thank you so much for sharing this!

    i’ve been some research for class on the causes of eating disorders and most stuff states that they are caused by deeper emotional issues that manifest themselves in a behaviors involving food. i probably didn’t do all their research justice in my two bit summary but you get the point 🙂

    my issues started when i left a job that i loved for a “promotion” that ended up being crap. i left behind close coworker friends and the 80 children and their parents that i saw each day. this left a huge hole. at the same i had a nasty breakup and a really toxic friend which ripped the hole bigger. to cope, i ate lots of crap and stopped exercising.

    the hole has started filling and the issues have gradually decreased. plus my awareness of my emotions and the things i do to cope has also increased which helps tons.

    again, thank you so much for sharing this!

  54. Janie April 8, 2010 at 5:42 pm #

    Wow. What an honest post. I honestly have so much I want to say in response I don’t know where to begin. I might message you privately over facebook. But for now…. XOOXXOOXXOXO

  55. rustique April 8, 2010 at 6:26 pm #

    I felt so much ring true in this post. I switched private and public schools a bunch of times growing up, and although I was physically still near my old friends, I always felt like I had to abandon that “bubble” and adopt my new one, where it took me a while to get into the swing of things. By the time I got to high school, the only friends I’d ever kept close with were self-destructive partiers because I reasoned my time with them was “more worth it” than the kids I’d known growing up, or making close friends at a new school. I think shutting people out, never letting new friends get too close, definitely contributed to my stuggles.

    But I do believe in a big genetic component to EDs. Starving myself was addicting–I wasn’t dieting, I wasn’t being told I was fat by anyone but ED; I was convinced there would be something very wrong with the world if I didn’t restrict. Some women are able to have a temporary lower-calorie diet and maintain a balanced perspective on food and their bodies after; I will never be able to without spiraling.

  56. northlandrunner April 8, 2010 at 7:04 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve thought about writing about my ED on my blog but I just can’t find the words I guess.

    I have no idea what triggered mine but once it started it was a huge downhill slope that has taken me a long time to overcome. I’m finally at the point where I feel comfortable in my skin and I’m so grateful for that. I have also learned a lot about life from struggling with my eating disorder. Everything truly does happen for a reason, even if we don’t know exactly why.

    You go to Wisconsin?! I go to UW-La Crosse! I’m going to the Madhatters concert in Madison this weekend actually! 🙂

  57. Hi Shelley. I’m a new reader. I just stumbled across your blog. Thank you so much for sharing this. I know this must have been really hard to write, but take a look above at all of these comments. You definitely touched some lives!

    I also believe there are certain triggers that are guided by some sort of emotional distress.

    Thanks again for this post. 🙂

  58. Kelsey April 9, 2010 at 8:15 am #

    OMG IDENTICAL! The last 3 months of my senior year at private school (went from kindergarden-12).. right before prom and all that jazz… my best friend left me because she couldnt handle my eating disorder.. and after that no one else talked to me at my school. i switched to a public school for those last 3 months and was able to make a couple friends. i know how it feels to be abandoned. i can promise you it makes you stronger. im so happy you shared this and im even happier i can relate with you. check out my blog at / feel free to contact me if u wanna talk. XOXO

    big hug, Kelsey.

  59. ilanalala April 9, 2010 at 12:43 pm #

    Shelley, this is a really beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing. I agree with you that certain events can trigger an eating disorder, and I truly feel it has something to do with feeling a lack of control in determining your destiny. A lot of girls I know struggling with eating disorders feel like they are not in command of their life, thet things are beyond their control, or controlled by someone else, and somehow food is a whole part of it. Personally, I wasn’t anorexic, rather that horrible label of “ED-NOS,” but I felt totally out of control of what was happening in my life and only since actively taking a role in how I actually live have I felt better and have been able to overcome certain eating fears in my mind.
    I *can’t* blame the media solely for eating disorders. Media is a tool of society, and somehow America is the most obese country in the world, but everyone blames the media for why girls of our generation don’t eat? No, no, darling. Eating disorders are just ONE symptom of our crazy, hyper-technological society. We are ALL struggling under the pressure of the new world.

  60. Simply Life April 10, 2010 at 5:21 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  61. Cassandra April 10, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    I think that people can be predisposed to eating disorders but its also I think can be triggered by just one situation, one statement. Whether or not it be true ( the scenario in which a person is put in, or what is said to the person, ex: you could afford to loose a little weight, even though there is nothing wrong with you weight it just takes that one statement, the one person you trusted or is suppose to be there for you, support you, to completely ruin you ( in the moment in time) (purposely or not purposely) it doesn’t matter the damage has been done. I don’t think people realize that they have an E.D.right away, they know what they are doing is wrong, but second guesses and says well maybe not… I’m healthy… it is manifesting itself and will slowly begin, and then take over…
    that is how I feel about it…. and as people we are all very sensitive and self conscious of ourselves as well as our surroundings.

    ( this is just me thinking, hope it doesn’t offend :()

    thank you for sharing shelley ❤
    everything does happen for a reason, whether the time is a struggle and hard one, you do come out a much stronger, and wiser person. It just sucks that we do have to go through the trials of life to get to knowledge and understanding of ourselves as well as others…
    love you!

  62. kaitm April 11, 2010 at 9:32 am #

    Your posts are always so insightful and thought provoking. I think anyone can develop an eating disorder at any time. I can’t say for sure where my ED behaviors came from, but I don’t think it was my family at all. If anything, it may have been my friends and the environment I was in my first two years of college. I am so proud of you and how far you’ve come. I still feel like I have a little ways to go in my own recovery, but you are truly and inspiration to me!

  63. Stef @ moretolifethanlettuce April 11, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    i agree wholeheartedly!! it’s so easy to look back and say that things would have gone one way if we did certain things differently, but the truth is we’ll never know. i resent my ED too but i don’t regret it at all. i’ve learned os much about myself and it forced me to be a lot more mature (esp emotionally) and actually i don’t think i would have gotten into my dream school (cal) without it! lol! kinda twisted, and i’m obviously not advocating EDs as a way to get into schools, i’m just sayin that’s how things worked out for me! whatever the case may be, i’m so glad that you chose recovery shelley…you are too precious to waste away from a stupid disease like ED!

  64. lucieishealthy April 11, 2010 at 6:18 pm #

    Your article is great! I agree with you on many aspects of EDs. I always thought my ED started when I moved to the US and gained weight. I have then realized that I was a binger way before I started to gain some serious weight. I felt lonely, so I ate. I had a lot of amazing friends but my parents were very absent.
    Then again, i have some serious case of EDs running in my family. I have two aunts on each side of my family who are or were anorexic. Maybe my genes predisposed me to having an ED… who knows? The point is to get free from it. Awareness is the first step in the right direction.

  65. Lauren April 12, 2010 at 9:17 am #

    I think that you are so right, eating disorders are about more than losing weight. Mine definitely was. When I first starting losing weight, I wasn’t even thinking about it and I barely noticed. It was more about depression and trauma. I also had some experiences in my life that I believe lead to my eating disorder, and also the feelings of depression and anxiety that came before it.
    I also think there is a genetic factor..and environmental. I’ve read studies about anorexia being linked to genetics, and I also think that if you grow up with a parent who has disordered eating you are more likely to end up with a disorder. My mother had an eating disorder and depression, so I’m not sure if its genetic, environmental, or a combination of both.
    Anyway, thank you for sharing this. I love how open you always are.

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