This past Sunday (February 22, 2015) marked the first day of NEDA Awareness Week 2015. NEDA is the National Eating Disorder Association and it supports families and individuals who have been affected by eating disorders and serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care. I have been an active supporter, fundraiser of NEDA and someone who has received services from them since 2009. Every year since I have attended and fundraised for the annual NYC NEDA Walk and recently started participating more actively in NEDA Awareness week, now that I’m more open about my own story.
NEDA Awareness Week has the goal of putting attention on the seriousness of eating disorders and to improve the public understanding of their causes, triggers and treatments. By increasing awareness and access to resources, we can encourage early detection and intervention, which can improve the likelihood of full recovery for millions. This years’ theme is “I Had No Idea”, which focuses on the importance of early intervention and recognizing the diverse experiences of people personally affected by disordered eating. Too often, signs and symptoms are overlooked as insignificant behaviors when in fact many of these are early warning signs of eating disorders. (NEDA)
If someone is exhibiting signs or thoughts of struggling with an eating disorder, intervening during the early stages of development can significantly increase the likelihood of preventing the onset of a full blown eating disorder. It also leads to greater chances of a full recovery. It can prevent years of struggle and can even save lives. A key goal of #NEDAwareness Week is to direct individuals to a free online screening for eating disorders at MyBodyScreening.org. (NEDA)
Looking back, now that I can consider myself recovered, I wish that someone had seen the early signs. I wish that I knew what they were and I wish my family did as well. There were so many opportunities for things to be different if I or the people around me had only known.
I Had No Idea
That skipping lunch when I was 11 would lead to a habit.
That feeling hungry wasn’t meant to be a good thing.
That obsession over the mirror would turn into disgust.
That making excuses was dishonest.
That avoiding events and outings at college would fill me with regret.
That I was hurting the people who knew and understood.
That getting healthy could consume me.
That eating organic and vegan food could consume my days and mind.
That my passion for exercise turned into a punishment for anything that I consumed.
That my body couldn’t thrive at the weight I was.
That I wasted so much time and money going to the hospital.
That my therapist was actually right.
How painful it would be to recover from something that no one acknowledges you have.
How strong I would have to be and how strong I truly am.
How perfectly imperfect I am.
For years I had no idea that I had an eating disorder. I thought that I was losing weight and getting healthy but the reality is that I was consumed by my disorder. Still my closest family members have no idea that I struggled with an eating disorder and that I have recovered. I couldn’t get real help when I needed it because the people closest to me had no idea what any of the warning signs were, what the seriousness of these disorders were and how to even speak about them. Let’s talk about this and really begin to understand eating disorders.
NEDAwareness Week will continue until the end of the month but I will be launching a series on Eating Disorders, Mental Health & Wellness. This was not the first time that I wrote about eating disorders and will not be the last. If you’re interested in reading my former post here’s the link: The Other Side of Eating Disorders. Share your story if you’re comfortable and start the discussion! I will always be available for anyone who has questions or need to talk. <3 Thank you NEDA for providing amazing resources for NEDAwareness week!