Melanie Murphy has penned the most moving open letter in honour of eating disorder awareness week.
The author shared a photo of her taken during a recovery relapse during early 2013 and a more recent photo.
Melanie may look perfectly happy and healthy in both photos, but the YouTuber opened up about the reality of living with an eating disorder, stressing the fact that just because someone looks ‘perfect’ doesn’t mean they’re struggling.
She explained that she was struggling with her mental health when the first photo was taken: “My mental state was on the floor and I constantly felt like I had to hide it because I felt ashamed.
“I’d over-exercise in my bedroom, in secret. I’d scrape food into the bin when people weren’t looking. I’d binge when alone and then hide all the wrappers & brush my teeth. I’d made a lot of progress talking to a specialist during my final year at uni but I was still binge eating/restricting when stressed,” she continued.
“I’d dealt with orthorexia and I thought I’d broken up with binge eating, but I was mistaken. The road to recovery wasn’t linear, it rarely is! I was all over the place because of what I’d put my body through, and I felt tired,” Melanie explained.
The Internet star revealed her nails and hair became thinner and more brittle. She was constantly breaking out and had little energy.
“My mind was a literal battlefield, and yet I was a ‘healthy bmi’…that’s when I realized there are exceptions to the rules doctors have for measuring health, and that there’s this big gap between recovery and full-blown eating disorder where a lot of us need to chill out for a while while we gather our bearings,” she explained.
Melanie said she wanted to share her story to highlight the fact that a lot of people who are struggling right now might not be underweight, or overweight.
“They might look completely healthy while their body masks the truth of their illness, and just because someone isn’t very obviously wasting away, that doesn’t mean their illness is less serious,” she stressed.
Melanie explained that an eating disorder isn’t define by a physical size, “It’s defined by a person’s mind: their self-image, their inability to let go of control, their obsession.”
She encouraged her followers to look out for signs in those you love like social social withdrawal, obsessive rituals, deceptive behavior around food, continual denial of hunger, increased preoccupation with body shape or appearance, low self esteem, anxiety around meal times.
“I learned from my setbacks, I WANTED recovery, and if you do too, you’ll get there…you will do what it takes. I believe in you,” Melanie concluded.
We all know that Instagram is full of the highlights of people’s lives. We share photos of ourselves smiling without a hair out of place or flawless and perfectly edited snaps from holidays.
As we scroll through our feeds we are met with dozens of smiling faces but it’s important to remember that there is so much more to someone’s life than the content they post on Instagram.
We need more posts like Melanie’s honest and eye-opening open letter. We should use this platform to raise awareness about disorders, to remind people that will get through the dark times in their lives and to show others that this too shall pass.
Is it time to give up on posting snaps of your brunch, sunsets and the new pair of sunglasses you bought for your trip to Rome? I think so. Maybe it is time to use Instagram in a more encouraging and empowering way, just like Melanie did.