From February 1–7, 2018 is Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW). It is a nation-wide awareness week that was created to bring light to the prevalence of risks of Eating Disorders (ED). The goal is to improve the support of those with EDs.
This year, the staff at National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) are “promoting the message that One Size DOESN'T Fit All, to shine a light on the fact that Eating Disorders can and do affect individuals of all genders, ages, races and ethnic identities, sexual orientations and socio-economic backgrounds.”
NEDIC has teamed up with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and the National Initiative for Eating Disorders (NEID) to create a toolkit. This toolkit has a number of resources that can be downloaded as well as information about eating disorders.
On Tuesday February 6, there is an event called VoicED: An Event for Eating Disorder Awareness week. This event will be include visual art, music, dance, comedy, and spoken word performances by those whose lives have been affected by eating disorders.
This week is extremely important to me. In 2012, I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa (AN). But, by then, it was already too late. I had been starving myself intentionally for two years and, despite being the one to reach out for help, I wasn’t ready to stop quite then. I dropped out of the ED program that I was enrolled in. It was making the relationship with my mom tense—she was being told to force me to eat, take labels off of containers, and probably other stuff that they said while I tuned out of the conversations at my appointments.
Although my friends saw this happening, there was nothing they could do to help. I know how hard they tried, always offering me their food or asking if they could buy me things from the cafeteria. But I wasn’t open to help and there wasn’t much supporting information out there for people in 2010.
For over a year after my diagnoses, I continued to starve myself. But, in early 2013, I suddenly felt determined to change my ways. At first, it was hard: both physically and mentally. But I was determined to change my ways.
On one of my good days, I found the courage to write myself notes of encouragement on sticky notes. I stuck them on my mirror so that every time I went into the bathroom and had to face the mirror, I would have some backup with me.
Then, I made a promise to myself to compliment myself every time I looked in the mirror. I started out small. I focused on complimenting my personality, since I wasn’t too insecure about that. It was easy to tell myself things like “you’re smart” or “you’re funny”. Eventually I ran out of new things to compliment myself on each day. So I started moving into the harder stuff: my appearance.
It was difficult at first but I started small with things like “you have nice eyes” or “you have a pretty smile” but it got harder as I moved into the physical things that I had always been ashamed of. But I pushed through and forced myself to find one new positive thing about myself per day. And, eventually, it worked.
On July 13, 2013 I remember walking into my bathroom one day. I lookedat my body. Without trying, I saw that I liked it exactly the way that it was. I realized that I didn’t need to do drastic things to fix myself because I didn’t need to be fixed. I forced my mind to let me love myself.
It took me years after I mentally recovered from my ED before I was able to physically recover. It was hard to eat full meals; no matter how hard I tried it was hard for me to eat as much as I wanted. It took a toll on me mentally. I would get upset that I couldn’t eat what I wanted to. Although I can eat more now, I’m definitely not fully recovered. It takes constant commitment and dedication to get my body to where I want it to be.
It’s now been four and a half years. I weigh about 20–30 pounds more than I did in 2013. But I have never been happier or more in love with myself. I find a way to love myself for who I am and then eventually for how I looked.
Loving someone with an ED takes more than just forcing them to eat. It takes helping them figure out how to start to love themselves again.