Guess what? It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week! To be honest, I didn’t realize that until Monday night. Not too late, but still—I would like to have dedicated Monday’s post to this important issue!
As someone who’s struggled with disordered eating, warped body image and low self-esteem, I know how comforting it can be to connect with others who are going through the same thing. In fact, that connection is what attracted me to the blogosphere in the first place. Reading so many stories about women who have battled and overcome eating disorders gave me a sense of community, even if I never actually met any of them.
Dealing with any type of eating disorder is an incredibly isolating and frustrating experience. My struggles caused me to cut myself off from anything I perceived as a threat, and in college, this often meant avoiding what most people value the most: a social life. As much as I wanted to have one, I simply couldn’t enjoy myself when I was out with my friends. I’d be panicking about how many calories were in my drink, worrying about how fat I looked in my outfit or plotting the binge I’d have once I got home.
I could have used a sign like this back in college! (Source)
Despite my best efforts, my disordered eating eventually killed my social life. I’d get phone calls and texts asking me to go out, but by my senior year, I was almost always saying no. If I did go out, I was the first to go home and had earned the nickname “grandma.” Needless to say, the invites came less and less, until they were nonexistent.
But really—can I blame my friends? No, I don’t think so. None of them had any idea what I was struggling with, and I made no attempt to tell them. I couldn’t. For the longest time, the thought of telling anyone absolutely terrified me.
That’s all mostly changed now. Though I still feel pretty uncomfortable talking to anyone about this (except my boyfriend) out loud, writing is a completely different story. And while it’s therapeutic for me to put my thoughts and feelings down on paper, what I really want my writing to do is help someone else. To have even just one person read my story and know she isn’t alone, that someone else understands what she’s going through, would make putting myself out there totally worth it.
NEDAwareness Week ends March 3, but that doesn’t mean the discussion has to stop there. I encourage each and every one of you to keep the conversation going and to remind each other of just how beautiful and unique we all really are! Not sure how to do that? Check out Operation Beautiful, an incredible movement that’s reminding people how awesome they are everyday with something as simple as a sticky note.
Have you ever left (or found!) an Operation Beautiful note? How did it make you feel?