Glennon Doyle Was Diagnosed With Anorexia When She Sought Help for Bulimia

Glennon Doyle
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'There is no way that I could explain to you the level of bafflement, shock, denial, confusion,' the author said.

Glennon Doyle is opening up about her battle with eating disorders. In a recent episode of her We Can Do Hard Things podcast, the 46-year-old author revealed that, amid a bulimia relapse, a doctor diagnosed her with anorexia.

In early 2022, Doyle went public with her bulimia relapse. At the time, Doyle "was feeling a little bit lost about it and not ready to make any big moves about it." She stayed in that space for 10 months, until she and her wife, Abby Wambach, heard about a friend's daughter's "incredibly revolutionary" anorexia treatment. 

When Doyle didn't reach out to her friend to get that doctor's information, Wambach did it for her and eventually wound up connecting the author to the medical professional and setting up an appointment.

"In the days before I was to have that first meeting with that doctor, my bulimia came back hard," Doyle recalled. "... I didn't understand what was happening. And then the doctor that I talked to first told me that... very often right before somebody goes into the treatment that they actually believe is going to take... it's like the last gasps of your protective self [realizing] they're going to take this thing away."

What followed was an appointment with the doctor, a weeks-long intake process, several medical tests and, eventually, an unexpected diagnosis.

"I have come to these people and said, 'I am a bulimic and I've been recovered for this long and now I'm having relapses and I just need to understand what the hell and how to get these relapses of bulimia under control so I can be less scared and freer and not in danger,'" Doyle said. "The doctor sits down and she says... [that I have anorexia]."

"There is no way that I could explain to you the level of bafflement, shock, denial, confusion. The shift of my identity as bulimic, bulimic, bulimic. Anorexia is a totally different thing. It's like a different religion. It's a different identity. It's a different threat. It's a different way of thinking," she added. "It's so confusing and it shook me very deeply. And I did not believe it... Then at the end I said, 'I feel like this is an amazing overreaction. I do not think I'm anorexic'... The doctor said, 'That is a very anorexic reaction to have.'"

Doyle got one step closer to accepting her diagnosis when, out of love, Wambach told her, "I can't do this for you."

"I have never felt so alone on my own body," Doyle remembered. "I'm the sick one, apparently, everyone is telling me, and I am also the one who has to fix the sickness? How?... It was a big shift in thinking to me."

When she started reading up on the disease, Doyle's "terror" over her diagnosis "intensified tenfold."

"I don't know how to explain the feeling of reading things that you thought were part of your personality and who you were, and reading that they're actually just a collection of symptoms, of an effing disease," she said. "... It is stunning to be a person whose life and work is about self-examination, is about discovering the nuance and minutiae of who we are and talking about it every day and then not know this information about yourself. It's humiliating on a level."

Now, Doyle said she is "doing all of the work" to get well, a process she intends to update her listeners on in the coming weeks.

If you are in a crisis and need help immediately, text "NEDA" to 741741 to connect with a trained volunteer at the National Eating Disorders Association's Crisis Text Line.