If you know someone who needs help, please, tell them you love and care about them. Encourage them to seek help.
I suffered through most of high school and the first 3 years of college with this before getting help and I am so glad people like this young woman are courageous enough to share insight. For me personally, the self care and self love through applying the philosophy of yoga to my life is what made the difference. That and unconditional love from myself and others.
Thank you for your courage, Dear One,
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage" Anais Nin
The week is National Eating Disorder Awareness week. I always dread it because for me it is a constant reminder of my struggle. Don't get me wrong, awareness is important but I wish I could hide for a week until everyone stops talking about it.
It's hard for me to share even these vague thoughts about the subject. I'm not very public on Facebook. I'll probably block a bunch of people...lol but I think some of these things are important to be aware of. If you are struggling, know someone who is, or just have questions about either my personal journey or about what these disorders really are, if you have a misconception or misunderstanding you would like clarified - feel free to reach out to be and I will be as honest as I can.
This year it is particularly hard. On Feb 19th 2014, I made a decision that could have but did not (obviously) end my life. On February 20th 2014 I was admitted to Renfrew ResidentialTreatment Center - my second time at res Renfrew for anorexia with an inpatient stay at another treatment center in between.
Last year when I was in treatment during NEDA awareness week, we had a journaling assignment - things you wish the public were more aware of concerning eating disorders. This is what I wrote. Some of these I learned from friends I was in treatment with over the years and others are more personal to my specific journey.
- I wish people knew that eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes and size is not necessarily an indicator of how sick a person is. I have had medical issues at more stable weights that I didn't have at my lowest weight. There are so many factors besides the scale.
- Eating disorders are very serious illnesses and people who suffer at all sizes are at risk of dying. It can be deadly regardless of the number on the scale.I know a few who have passed away as a result and they didn't fit the stereotypical vision of someone with an eating disorder.
- Just because you start looking better physically does not mean you are okay or even medically stable.
- It isn't a choice. I didn't wake up one day and decide to lose weight or stop eating. You don't get over it by "just eating". People should treat it like any other disease - insurance companies (who have kicked me out of inpatient treatment earlier than the doctor's recommended every time), doctors, friends, family - with compassion and not judgment.
- It is not about vanity.It is not about "looking good". Sometimes it's about not being seen at all. It's a deeply engrained coping mechanism.
- It isn't a diet and it isn't all about the numbers, the weight, or even body image.Those are the results of the symptoms, not the cause.
- There are a wide range of causes that differ for everyone. It's complicated and individualized. Not everyone is influenced primarily by models and the media. I never touched a fashion magazine when mine developed and I wasn't even trying to lose weight initially.
- You don't come out of treatment cured. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you can walk that road to recovery but the battle doesn't end when you walk out those doors.
- Eating disorders are not a joke. Almost every comedy show has that one episode where they portray a vain teenage girl trying to lose weight for prom. Media makes light of these serious illnesses and continues to perpetrate the stigma that they are not that big of a deal.
Here's a challenge for you: tomorrow when you're going throughout your day, keep track of how many times conversations about food, weight, calories, etc come up. My father once had to fast for a procedure and every time some one brought up food in some context - which was often - it bothered him. Any mention of food stood out to him and he suddenly became hyperaware of how many commercials, advertisements, events, and conversations revolve around food. That's how people with eating disorders feel everyday.