National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is upon us.
As a therapist/eating disorder survivor, the care and activism of Eating Disorders will always have a special place in my heart.
…As such, I will be one of first to say eating disorders are incredibly difficult to understand. Because, really, they do not make sense on any rational or logical level, making them all the more confusing and frustrating for those that suffer and their loved ones. As a result of this lack of understanding, it is all too common that they are stigmatized, oversimplified, overlooked, and undertreated.
…So, if I could have you understand one thing about Eating Disorders, I would want you know that they are far more complex than being just about FOOD. And despite what it may look like on the surface, they are not about VANITY, either.
Rather, they are “about” deeper, longstanding mental and emotional issues that manifest themselves through one’s relationship with food and the body.
They are about self-love, self-loathing, self-esteem, and self-worth. They are about tidal waves of emotions such as anxiety, depression, anger, resentment, and fear. They are about addiction, dissociation, detachment, self-medicating, and a desperate attempt to anesthestize intense pain. They are about the perceptions of perfectionism, power, control, and a lack thereof. Trauma, abuse, objectification, and victimization. They are about family dysfunction, peer relationships, identification, trying to stand out and simaltaneously disappear…
The issues that underlie EDs are as unique and complex as the beautiful soul that struggles with the disease. And if recovery is to be successful, they need to be treated as such. They do not need to be pathologized or minimized. Nor do they need shame, judgement, insensitivity, or stigmatization.
Rather, those that struggle with this disease need empathy and they need compassion. Validation, patience, optimism, and hope. They need to be supported, challenged, and reminded of the essence of WHO they REALLY are.
And most of all, they need love. Love from others, and most importantly, love of SELF.
If this resonates, be inspired. Be encouraged. Have hope.