It’s day 3 of Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2016! In honour of this awareness campaign, I decided to focus this post on eating disorders. Specifically, I am going to touch on the stigma that pervades eating disorders in our society today.
As I said in my last post, I am not in the best place that I have ever been in terms of my recovery. That being said, I am nowhere near how low I have been in the past. For this reason, I won’t be posting personal details about my illness. In the future, I may do so, when I’m in a better place.
My goal for this blog/website is to offer a space that is safe and non-triggering for everyone, while providing reliable and educational information. By following this mandate, I will not be posting any pictures or media that could in any way be triggering. If I am going to include sensitive material in the post, I will put TW (for trigger warning) in the subject line.
Eating disorders. They are common, destructive, violent, all-consuming, manipulative, and devastating. They are also treatable. Unfortunately, it is the stigma itself that often prevents those who are ill from seeking and/or receiving timely treatment. That’s another thing about EDs… the faster treatment is initiated, the better chance there is of a full recovery.
It is unbelievably common for EDs to affect a person for their entire lifetime; whether it be a recovery-relapse cycle, or a continuous state of illness. For 15-20% of ED sufferers, the disease is fatal. EDs have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and these causalities are mostly the fault of suicide or heart failure. This is the dark side of EDs. And although the majority of this subject is very dark, there is a light.
This light is the fact that there is effective treatment available in our province for these diseases.
Some important facts about EDs:
- Eating disorders are NOT A CHOICE. For a long time, I thought it was my fault. I thought I was being selfish. It took a long time for me to realize that I was really, truly sick, and that it wasn’t my fault or the fault of anybody else. Just like physical illnesses, mental illnesses can develop despite our best interests, and there is most often no one to blame for them.
- "Eating disorder” refers to the diagnosis that covers Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, and Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. “Disordered eating” refers to any eating behaviours that are extremely unusual, harmful to the body, or harmful to the mind. I personally believe that a vast majority of our society experiences disordered eating. Media-borne pressures to meet un-realistic standards, over-stimulation in regards to food abundance, and misconstrued messaging about what it means to be “healthy” all contribute to disordered eating patterns. It is important to be educated about the signs of a developing ED so that what starts as a diet doesn’t turn into a life-threatening condition. Better yet, avoid diets! :)
- Caring for someone with an ED is scary. As hell. I think one of the biggest reasons there is stigma surrounding not only EDs but all mental illnesses in general, is that the afflicted person acts differently. Thinks differently. Reacts differently than they normally would. Because the illness is of the mind, it is the mind that shows the symptoms. So we see this person that we've known forever. A family member or a friend. And they're not the same. Maybe they lash out, maybe they become reclusive, but all of a sudden this person has changed. And the funny thing about mental illness is that the ill aren't capable of saving themselves. When you are physically sick, you are able to comprehend your situation and be motivated to fix it... When you're mentally ill, your greatest asset in healing yourself, your own brain, is under attack. Caring for a person with a mental illness is difficult… so so so difficult. Because even if you are able to overcome your discomfort and exude nothing but pure love and understanding in order to help them and accept them when they are not themselves, you still face the prejudice that mental illnesses are met with in our society today. This makes it difficult to cultivate resources and maintain relationships, both of which are integral to recovery and/or management.
That’s it for today! I decided that I will start posting twice a week… although I haven’t decided on which days. This Saturday the family and I are headed to Hawaii for a little spring break get-away. I’ll be taking my computer and will be posting from there.
In time, I hope to develop a component of this website where you can leave private or public posts on a message board. I’m thinking that I will post discussion topics, or you can respond to topics in the blog posts.
Thank you for visiting this week!
You are a meaningful resident of this planet, and you are so incredibly loved.
P.S…. check out the news release for a collection of ED Educational Videos that were filmed at the 2015 Kootenay ED Conference. My mom and I started the day off with a keynote on our journey, and then the specialized ED team from BC Children’s (the same magical people who cared for me while I was hospitalized!) cover the basics of dealing with ED patients. The videos are available to all, but we hope that medical practitioners, educators, and social workers will benefit from this valuable information. http://m.marketwired.com/press-release/-2093367.htm