National Eating Disorder Awareness week (February 25 to March 3) is an interesting time for those of us with eating disorders. A lot of people “come out.” A lot of people share recovery stories. A lot of people talk to their friends and family members about signs that they have an ED. A lot of good happens. But, a lot of bad happens, too.
The major bad is that for those of us with EDs — who are already constantly comparing ourselves to ourselves/other people — we have a bunch of new narratives to compare our experience to. A lot of stories in the news and pop culture focus on sensationalizing eating disorders in one of two ways. One, these stories tend to highlight the famous people, the musicians and actors who developed an ED because of the immense pressure. Or, two, they pump out a bunch of “I used to have an ED, but now I am completely recovered” feel-good stories.
I, for one, feel excluded from these narratives.
I was not a child star. I am not famous. I did not do competitive sports/anything. I am not obsessed with fashion and unrealistic beauty standards. And, no, I am not recovered.
I am in recovery.
And I firmly believe that I always will be. Some might say that this is negative thinking, and that of course I won’t be “cured” with that attitude — but it’s not like that at all. Eating disorders are such complex psychological mind-body disorders. There is no “cure.” Recovery is ongoing. I have good days and bad days. And though I am not recovered, I believe myself to be in a healthy place because I want to maintain rather than lose. I want to move forward rather than back (most days anyway, I’m not perfect).
So, if you found yourself lost in a sea of neda stories this past week, please don’t lose sight of your own entirely unique journey. Eating disorders can happen to anyone, and they take many different forms. Recovery is the same way. So please be patient with yourself, and have the courage to keep going.
As an ending note, I absolutely adore everything @rubyetc does, and her post on Instagram re: neda week was such a breath of fresh air:
If you are not ready now or ever (seriously!!) to tell your story in words, that is 110% PERFECT. You tell it every day when you choose to fight back against ED.
If you have a story about mental illness—whether personal or concerning a loved one—please consider sharing your experience, either by writing a guest post, or doing an interview with me. Even if you aren’t at a place yet where you feel comfortable disclosing your name, the church body needs your voice. Let’s shine a light on the darkness, together.