Clinical Emotion Lifestyle Narrative

A letter from a patient with anorexia nervosa

Dear Doctor,

What I need from you is validation that what I am experiencing is real; recognize this is more than just a burden for me.

At first it was a rush. The best feeling I’d ever had. I was getting compliments, attention, and my jeans felt wonderfully loose.  But it didn’t take long until it became everything; an obsession.  My eating disorder (ED) has become all I think about.  Every second of every day is consumed with what I eat, what I avoid, how I can avoid it, when I will exercise and for how long. I can’t escape.  Even if I actually wanted to gain weight back, it’s not that easy.

I know you might understand, but at least acknowledge that it’s not about the food. The truth is, when you say it’s about the food, it’s more tangible, easier to categorize, like a patient with a broken wrist.  People think that if I “just eat a sandwich” I will be fine, but this is far from accurate.

Sometimes ED hints at me, other times it screams. Either way, ED is a part of my life; it is a part of who I am right now. I have a deep connection to this diagnosis. Because of this, I will defend and validate ED, and conjure any excuse to hold on to this relationship just a little longer. For patients like me, ED becomes another member of the family, the third wheel in a relationship, or even another personality who needs attention.

I still struggle often, but I have good days too.  I am not just another girl with anorexia.  I’m a young woman who never takes life too seriously, loves road trips and playing the piano, and who fights back against anorexia every single day.  I know it’s your mission, but you cannot fix me. Only I can do that and I am going to need your support.

So right now, take a seat on my rollercoaster, listen to me, and let’s get to the end of this ride.


Your ED patient


* Inspired by a loved one

Featured image:
Anorexia. by Mary Lock


By Kaley Burns

Kaley is a fourth year Naturopathic Medical (ND) student at National University of Health Sciences in Chicago, IL. She completed her undergraduate studies in kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After graduation next year she is interested in collaborating with medical doctors as a member of an integrative healthcare team. Kaley has a special interest in veteran's health, nutritional medicine, and sports performance. As a research fellow, she has participated in clinical studies and furthered her appreciation for evidence-based clinical practice. Kaley is a certified triathlon and endurance coach and a member of the Timex Factory Racing team. In addition to endurance training, Kaley enjoys playing the piano, catching up on reading and cheering on the Badgers. As an ND she plans to aid in the movement towards a medical system with a broader vision and enhanced capability to create and sustain health in our communities.

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