Monday, February 24, 2014

We Need to Talk

I have a lot of things to say about eating disorders.  I have them!  Had them?  I am recovering.

Here is my first post about anorexia: Anorexia Unwrapped

Here's a post about how our destructive behaviours feed unhealthy habits: I Don't Have the Willpower

And here is my advice if you think you might know someone with an eating disorder:

  • It may not be the people you expect. I was a really confident, outgoing young woman with lots of friends and success in school.  No one noticed. Many other people that I know who have struggled with these issues also appeared to have everything together.
  • Pay attention.  If someone loses a lot of weight in a short time.  If someone is constantly weighing and counting.  If someone consistently skirts out of ordering food when you're together.  If someone always visits the bathroom after eating.  
  • Watch your words, Part 1.  I received a lot of positive reinforcement when I had eating disorders and it made me feel awesome.  I understand that you want to tell people you care about when they look great, and that a lot of people lose weight in healthy ways.  But!  Instead of telling someone they look awesome, ask about their nutrition in a positive way (try not to be a creep about it).  If people avoid those sort of questions, or try to assure you without specifics, it's a red flag.  
  • Watch your words, Part 2.  Don't disparage your body.  Don't talk about what you should and shouldn't eat.  Don't comment on other people's weight, or compare yourself to others or one another.  Not only are those words damaging to you, but you never know how they're going to affect someone who's listening - even if they're actively participating.
  • Be a safe person.  This is the most important.  Love unconditionally.  Don't be judgemental or confrontational.  If people aren't seeking help, a lot of times, they don't want help.  I wanted to stay skinny.  I didn't want anyone to take away the power that eating disorders gave me.  When I finally asked for help, it was because I felt safe and unconditionally loved.  

Here is my advice if you think you might have an eating disorder:

  • Ask for help.  Find that safe person.  If you don't have one, I'm your safe person.  If you can't do that, go to your doctor.  As terrifying as this may seem, I promise it will be an enormous relief to take this burden off of your shoulders.  You are strong and brave.  You are loved and accepted and valuable.  You deserve to be free.

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