National Eating Disorder Awareness Week : February 21st-February 27th, 2016
As a mental health professional and an Eating Disorder survivor-and-thriver, I will be one of the first to agree that Eating Disorders are incredibly difficult to understand. Because, really, they don’t make sense on a rational or logical level, which makes them all more confusing and frustrating. And because they are so difficult to understand, and they are so often misunderstood, it is all too common that they are stigmatized, oversimplified, overlooked, and undertreated.
…So, if you are to know one thing about Eating Disorders, 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, Eating Disorders are “about” much more complex mental and emotional issues that manifest themselves through food and through the body.
…They are about self-love, self-loathing, self-esteem, and worth. They are about anxiety, depression, and seemingly uncontrollable emotions and moods. They are about addiction, self-medicating, and numbing intense pain. They are about perfectionism, control, or a lack there of. Trauma, abuse, objectification, and victimization. They are about family dysfunction, peer relations, trying to stand out, and trying to blend in. They are about stress and unhealthy coping mechanisms…
The list obviously does not stop here. Because the underlying issues are just as unique as the beautiful soul that struggles. And if recovery is to be successful, they need to be treated accordingly. They do not need pathologizing, oversimplifying or overlooking. They do not need shaming and insensitive remarks and stigmatizing. Rather, they need empathy and compassion. Patience and hope. They need to be supported, taken seriously, challenged, and reminded of who they really are. They need help. And most of all, they need love. Love from others, and eventually, love to and from themselves.