*Thank you to BetterHelp for sponsoring this post. All links with * lead to articles for anxiety and depression at BetterHelp.com. I received compensation as a thank-you for my participation, and believe offering links to resources like this may be helpful to some.
February 23-March 1 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
Eating disorder awareness is great, but the most important part of this is that people become aware of how hidden and prevalent it really is. The key to my own recovery was recognizing it within myself. This was difficult to do since I was never extremely underweight. And there are people out there with a BMI under 18 who don’t have eating disorders, too.
Therefore, we must emphasize how much of a psychological problem this is–that it is how we approach food and our habits around food that make an eating disorder what it really is.
Awareness comes in knowing that eating disorders are not always visible and can happen to anyone (that includes men of course). I believe National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is about breaking the misconceptions and stereotypes of eating disorders. It is to become aware of more than just “very thin white girls,” that the demon lies deep within the mind. Perhaps the ones who suffer more than we think seem to be far from the right “image” we have grown up to think eating disorders to be.
A Variety of Experiences
The biggest eye-opener for me with this entire “coming out” experience was understanding how many people suffer from it in different ways. Eating disorders can also develop from a variety of situations (family, society, pre-dispositions, etc), and commonly stem from anxiety*, depression*, or OCD tendencies.
I really began to see the differences between eating disorders when I suspected someone I knew might be struggling. But I kept pushiing my thoughts about this to the side because some of the foods he decided to eat would have been “forbidden” for me. He mustn’t have an eating disorder because he is eating THAT food and I could never allow myself to eat THAT, I thought.
But I soon found out that he did struggle, and my awareness for eating disorders expanded beyond what I knew from my own experiences.
Looking for the Signs
I ask that as a society, we open our minds and watch out for our friends and family–subtle cues, any changes in behaviors, changes in diet (even if small–something as simple as trying to eat healthier can be filed away in the mind to pull out later if something progresses from there). If anything, learning to care about others and encouraging ourselves to ask how our friends and family are doing is important. Something as simple as showing you care can help others to open up. Personally, having someone approach me bit by bit over time helped me to feel like I could eventually open up.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please check out https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/.
*These links were sponsored by BetterHelp.com.
Running in Silence manuscript Update:
The pages have been cut down to under 400 now, but with more revision, the page count may rise again. I’m reading through it a fifth time, but I’m sure I will be reading through it five or more times. There is plenty to work on, and I have myself on a schedule of reading/revising 30-50 pages per week. I’m looking forward to diving deeper into each experience and develop the story.