This year's National Eating Disorder Awareness week is upon us, February 26-March 3rd. This week is dedicated to highlighting the growing epidemic of eating disorders throughout the United States and encourage those in need of help to act upon that need.
There are many reasons why those suffering from these mental illnesses fail to receive the help they so desperately need, including negative stereotypes and stigmas.
The National Eating Disorder Association aims to eliminate those stigmas and instead empower. Empower victims to seek recovery through love and support.
Actively seeking recovery is essential in any battle with a mental disorder, especially an eating disorder. The consequences for those who don’t seek recovery can be life-altering and ultimately end in death.
You see, eating disorders are deceptive. They creep up on their victims, seemingly innocent, and then seize control of all actions and thoughts. Not only are they deceptive to those battling them, but also the loved ones of those victims.
Your friend could have an eating disorder and you may not even know it.
What seems to be a simple diet or weight obsession could actually be a much deeper problem.
These deceptive diseases have managed to control millions of Americans, with nearly 30 million people of all genders suffering from full-blown eating disorders in the United States. 30 million.
I was one of those millions.
One of those victims whose actions and thoughts were controlled by an eating disorder. Anorexia Nervosa did more than just shave 20 plus pounds off my waistline. It stole memories, relationships, confidence, and ultimately the love I had for myself and others.
I no longer consider myself a victim.
Merriam-Webster defines a victim as one that is acted on and usually adversely affected by a force or agent.
While Anorexia Nervosa temporarily “adversely affected” my life, I no longer give the disease that control. I no longer analyze every calorie burned and every calorie consumed. I no longer stare at my body in the mirror and see a shell of a person staring back at me. I am no longer a victim.
Anorexia Nervosa may have left some scars, but I am a survivor. I am a survivor because those around me recognized that I so desperately needed help. I am a survivor because I had an amazing support system holding my hand all along the way. I am a survivor because I realized I am worth it.
Let’s be that support system for those in need. Let’s hold the hands of those suffering and walk them to the finish line. Let’s turn those 30 million victims into survivors. Let’s work to end the negative stereotypes and stigmas.
This year's National Eating Disorder Awareness Week theme is “Let’s Get Real” and the goal is to highlight stories we don’t often hear. Take a moment to listen to those around you, even if they aren’t speaking. When someone around you is suffering, their cries for help are often times silent.
Listen for those silent cries.
We grow through what we go through, so let’s get real and brave this battle together.