Lost My Youth to Eating Disorder

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I’m a male, 23 years old, and I suffered from anorexia nervosa for over 6 years. I recovered at 21 years old without any professional or family help and it wasn’t until i was 22 that i told family and friends that i once had the disorder. They were both angry and not surprised.

I’m terrified of what my life turned into during that stage in life. I became so completely consumed with by the disorder, enveloping myself with these figments of imaginary fat on my body while I completely forgot to grow up, to be responsible, to be social. I’m only now graduating college. I went part time through much of my college career due to health issues or cancellation of courses by the university.

I feel like a huge part of me froze, the part that was to develop into this young man. Instead, after recovering, i see how stunted I am. Physically I look 18, emotionally I am not ready for any kind of relationship, I just recently learned to drive, and have yet to begin my career. I feel like anorexia took a huge chunk of my life that i can’t even remember.

I work, have a large circle of friends, currently finishing up my final semester at the university, doing multiple internships, and trying so hard not to feel hatred for what I’ve become. I have this intense need to play “catch up” with my life, to be the perfect whatever, to make up for lost time. And to always remember not to overdo it with the dieting.

I’ve been taking initiative these past 2 years but…at 23 years old I already feel like I lost my youth.

A. It is an insightful observation that your emotional and psychological growth may have been stunted by your eating disorder. The unfortunate results of that observation, however, are your feelings of self-hatred. Those are difficult feelings to live with. Because of your unhappiness, I would recommend counseling.

Many people enter counseling when they are unhappy with their lives. To find the best therapist, begin the process by calling at least five to 10. Be detailed about what specifically you would like help with. Ask them about the type of treatment they would offer. You may feel a connection to one or several of therapists on the phone. Choose several promising therapists and visit them in person. Continue this process until you find a therapist with whom you feel the most comfortable. That process should help you find your best match.

Once you begin therapy, you should quickly begin to feel progress, though it may be slight. You should feel a little better after each session. Each session should leave you with something to think about. Therapy is not always an easy process but it is worth the effort.

I also want to congratulate you on overcoming a very serious mental health condition. I’m sure that was not easy and your story is an inspiration to others. You should be proud of your major life achievement. It would be a mistake to minimize that successful aspect of your life. I wish you the best. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Jan 2012

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2012). Lost My Youth to Eating Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/01/27/lost-my-youth-to-eating-disorder/