Disordered Eating Doesn’t Always Have A Diagnosis: My Experience With OSFED

From as early as age 10, I remember feeling self-conscious about my weight. I was never as *skinny* as my other friends, + I definitely identified with the 40-70% of girls with poor body image. In high school, my attempts to lose weight [60-90 minute elliptical sessions, joining Weight Watchers, etc.] proved unsuccessful, + my unhappiness with my appearance spiraled out of control during my freshman year of college.

I’ve already told my CHAARG journey in length [thank you, #CHAARGSBFP15!], but to put it bluntly — I lost a lot of weight, the wrong way. I knew some of my behaviors were detrimental to my health, but never thought it was much to worry about. Admittedly, I had skipped meals + even days of eating here + there, but didn’t consistently restrict myself in this way to be considered anorexic [characterized by self-starvation + excessive weight loss]. I also dabbled in bingeing + purging [commonly known as bulimia, or bingeing followed by self-induced vomiting or other ways of purging], as well as binge eating, [but didn’t do this frequently or consistently enough to be diagnosed with binge eating disorder [eating copious amounts of food quickly, in a short timeframe, without purging].

Not *fitting* under one eating disorder was downright confusing. Even though I knew that I had unhealthy + disordered eating habits, I didn’t know how to get help because I couldn’t easily describe//categorize my behaviors. This was one of the reasons why it took me four years to work up the courage to see an eating psychologist — I didn’t want to be seen as a *fake* or like I was blowing my behaviors out of proportion. ++ I fear that hundreds of thousands of girls are waiting to get treated//keeping quiet about their concerns for the same reasons.

OSFED: THE MOST COMMON EATING DISORDER

Truthfully, even after a couple appointments with my eating psychologist, I still didn’t know if there was a *diagnosis* for my behaviors. After admitting this to my eating psych, she introduced an ED that I’d never heard of + completely blew my mind: OSFED, or Other Specified Feeding + Eating Disorders. OSFED is the most common ED — 30% of people seeking treatment for an ED are diagnosed under this category. Basically, OSFED is when a person may show signs of a combination of Anorexia, Bulimia, + Binge Eating Disorder, but doesn’t quite fit under the criteria for one specific disorder. Finally getting an answer was such a relief!

But what has been most helpful to me wasn’t being diagnosed — it was working up the courage to finally talk to someone. I have now consistently been meeting with my eating psych about once a month, ++ I look forward to it every time. I have made so much progress over the last 16 months, + am so glad to be healthy again.

THERE ISN’T A *ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL* ANSWER

Simply put, there isn’t [+ never will be] a *one-size-fits-all* diagnosis or road to recovery regarding EDs. But there is one thing that’s for certain — if you feel like something is *off*, if friends//family members have voiced their concerns, or if you just want to talk to someone//learn more//etc., do it. Do not ever feel ashamed, embarrassed, or let fear hold you back from getting the help you need + deserve. You are all beautiful, + should recognize your beauty inside + out!

If you ever have questions or need a friend, I’m here — each + every CHAARG girl is here.

++Nat [@natalie_inchaarg] // VirtCHAARG Grand Rapids

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