You Are Not a Burden: Stop Listening to the Eating Disorder

February 23, 2022 Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

When you enter the process of eating disorder recovery, one of the most intrusive—not to mention, persuasive—lies you might have to wrestle with is the belief that you're a burden. The combination of shame and stigma, which often underpins an eating disorder and many other forms of mental illness, can leave you feeling like just too much for those around you to tolerate. But as difficult as it can be to tune out this message, don't listen to the eating disorder voice: You are not a burden. In fact, you are worth claiming space in this world. 

Believing You're a Burden Can Impact Eating Disorder Recovery

It's nearly impossible to talk about the belief that you're a burden without first examining the roots of shame beneath it—these two emotional underpinnings are closely intertwined. All too often, shame activates the false but deeply entrenched assumption that others would be better off without your presence in their lives. So, in order to tackle shame, you have to understand the power of this force you're dealing with. Here is how author and research professor Brené Brown defines shame:

"Shame [is] the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that you are flawed, and therefore, unworthy of love and belonging."1

Using this definition as a framework, it's easy to see how shame can convince you to stamp the label of "burden" on yourself. When the message that loops in your brain is, "I'll never earn or deserve connection, acceptance, and love. I don't belong anywhere. I'm too much to handle," this inner monologue creates just the right conditions for an eating disorder to thrive. If you feel like a burden, then you'll attempt to shrink down so as not to overwhelm others with your emotions, needs, circumstances, or sheer existence.

The smaller, more invisible, and less burdensome you strive to be, the more entangled in this illness and cycle of shame you will become. On the flip side, though, part of recovery means learning to own your intrinsic value as a human who does have a place to belong and is worthy of connection. But this requires you to tune out the eating disorder voice and choose to believe you are not a burden.

Don't Listen to the Eating Disorder Voice that Calls You a Burden

The next time your eating disorder voice whispers (or, let's be honest, screams) that you are a burden, remember this: You are in charge of whether or not the message sinks in. You can either accept a lie that no one wants your burdensome self in their lives, or you can challenge this belief with the truth. You have as much of a right as anyone else to experience healing, connection, abundance, wholeness, and love.

You are allowed to feel, breathe, interact, claim space, and move through this world. You're not seen as a burden by the friends or family members who want a relationship with you. The fact is, they have chosen to do life with you—flaws and all. There's nothing irreparable about your existence, and the path to recovery is never too far out of reach. So please don't listen to the eating disorder voice: You are not a burden.


  1. Brown, B., "Shame vs. Guilt." Brené, January 15, 2013. 

APA Reference
Schurrer, M. (2022, February 23). You Are Not a Burden: Stop Listening to the Eating Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

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