Amy's story of Ednos: you don't have to be underweight or appear 'unhealthy' to be suffering
I remember searching online for the term and reading through every bullet point. Suddenly it hit me that I had actually been suffering from a real condition for so long, as I realised I could relate to every single symptom.
Ednos refers to eating disorders that display some of the characteristics of other disorders, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, but the behaviours of which do not fit the full criteria of these conditions.
Ednos stands for 'eating disorder not otherwise specified' and it is also now referred to as OSFED (other specified feeding and eating disorder).
Symptoms of Ednos
Ednos consists of cycles of restricting food, then bingeing, followed by purging after feelings of shame and guilt. An obsessive nature and over awareness is common surrounding food, weight, and calorie control, where restricting and avoiding meals is another of the many symptoms.
Someone living with Ednos may have certain rules about the types of food they can or can't eat and at what times they believe they are allowed to eat. Behaviours such as using laxatives, vomiting, or over exercising are often expressed as a way of compensating for eating. Bingeing on large quantities of food is common, followed by a period of restrictive or purging behaviours. Ednos is massively under reported in the media but makes up for a large percentage of eating disorders worldwide.
How it manifested
For nine years on and off I spent each day in fear of being overweight; getting 'fat' always terrified me. I don't think I can remember a time I was ever happy with my body although slowly but surely I am learning to now. I was always overweight growing up and when I reached age 13 I had massive insecurities.
I was bullied for most of my childhood, mainly over my weight, and I hated the way I looked with a passion. I began to restrict my eating to the bare minimum and weight shed off me. The thought of eating made me feel sick and at times I would make myself vomit. Over time my thick lovely hair fell out and I was left with thin hair (which I still have to this day) and a big bald patch on the back of my head.
I managed to slip out of this initial eating disorder a year or so later without much thought to it, and the weight piled back on me, as my metabolism had dissolved into virtually nothing.
A never-ending cycle
At age 18, Ednos returned at full force after I managed to break free from a manipulative and emotionally abusive relationship, where my self-esteem had plummeted. My addictive behaviours surrounding calorie counting and starving myself began again.
I was obsessed with being thin and wouldn’t stop until I was. But I was never happy - the less I ate, the less I weighed - it was never ending. It didn't matter how thin I got because I never believed I was. I was fighting a losing battle. A never-ending cycle. Restrict, binge, purge and repeat. It was a thought that became a behaviour, which turned into a habit, which ended up second nature, until finally Ednos was all I was.
A day in the life of Ednos
Each morning started the same. I would wake up and feel my stomach without even thinking about it. If I couldn't feel my hip bones as prominently as I could the morning before, then an overwhelming feeling of misery and guilt would kick in, as I would plan out my 'daily allowance' for the day.
If I'd binged the day before or eaten what I thought was too much then I would constantly beat myself up and spend the day in disgust with myself for being so 'greedy'. Of course it made no difference if I did believe I could feel my bones more, or that my stomach seemed flatter, because once again I would plan out what I could or couldn't have that day so that the next day I woke up feeling even more thin.
I weighed myself daily, sometimes several times a day, and I could go for days on just liquids, often followed by a binge. At times I would make myself sick if I thought I'd eaten too much. I would spend most of the day daydreaming of food, obsessing over what I could and could not eat, where I would decide what I was allowed to consume to make sure I would weigh less and feel 'better' the next day.
Comparing and judging
I constantly compared myself to other girls no matter where I was, and I judged my self worth on how much thinner they were than me. I would then feel so low that at times that I had to leave wherever I was just to escape my thoughts. I would count every calorie that entered my mouth and throughout the day I'd do several mental recaps to ensure the total number of calories I'd consumed didn't go beyond my set limit.
Of course my metabolism was basically non existent so the longer this went on, the less and less I ate, the harder it became to lose weight and feel thinner, as my body clung on to any food I was giving it as I had entered starvation mode.
I spent four more years trapped in this vicious cycle of Ednos, lying to my wonderful partner of 3 years, denying my loved ones and myself the truth. It had become so hard to hide my behaviours from my partner as we moved in together and it had become overwhelming. One drunken evening last year he caught me making myself sick and honesty came flooding out. I told him everything and the next day I saw a dietician who diagnosed me with Ednos.
Journey of recovery
Since then I have been working on my journey of recovery over the past nine months, sticking to a meal plan, and having regular sessions of CBT. I've had slip ups at times but by speaking to my partner and my therapist I've managed to get myself back on track. It is the hardest thing I have ever had to do but with every step that I make I am growing into a more positive and fulfilled person. I write blogs on my website and I have social media accounts to promote recovery as I defeat Ednos for good.
I hope to use my story to motivate others to do the same and I want to spread awareness of Ednos. I believe there are many others out there suffering that don’t believe they have an eating disorder, like I once believed, because they are not aware of this condition.
If I'd have known Ednos existed years ago I might have realised sooner I had a real disorder. I thought because I wasn't making myself sick all the time I didn't have bulimia, and I believed I wasn't thin or ill enough to have anorexia. That's the danger of stereotypes and eating disorders: they are about much more than just weight. Ednos exists.
If you've been effected by this article or would like support and want to talk to someone, Beat are on hand every day of the year. Their helplines are open 365 days a year from 3pm-10pm. Adult Helpline: 0808 801 0677 / Youthline: 0808 801 0711