It’s my favorite week of the year.
I hope you could feel the sarcasm oozing from your screen, reading that statement.
Every year, “#NEDAweek” (as it’s so coined on social media) rolls around, and every year I’m torn with this gut punch of “Yeah, I really should be all “gung ho” for this celebratory week in the ED community” but the reality is, it kinda just…ugh…it makes me feel icky inside.
And there are a couple reasons.
For staters, the week has become unabashedly “woke,” for lack of a better term. Because now, instead of focusing on what matters: namely, getting information out there about the gravity of eating disorders, signs to look for, resources and ways to help, and hope for those suffering. Now, in 2022, the focus has shifted to how sexual orientation and gender identity impacts eating disorders. Instead of using this once-a-year spotlight in the media with inspiring stories of overcoming an eating disorder, or spotlighting incredible treatment facilities and providers that are doing great things for the 28.8 million Americans who experience eating disorders at some point in their lives, they’re using the spotlight to push headlines like, “HOW WHITE SUPREMACY & COLONIALISM WARPED MY CONSTRUCTS OF HEALTH” and “DISMANTLING WHITENESS IN RECOVERY SPACES” and “BODY IMAGE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE” and “ASIAN AMERICAN IN A WHITE-DOMINANT TREATMENT CENTER” and “PRIDE: THERE’S ALWAYS A FIRST.” These headlines are literally copied from one of the top eating disorder “resources” out there.
And hear me when I say: I’m not downplaying any of the “lived experiences” (as they call them) of people whose stories can relate to any of the aforementioned headlines.
But all I want to know is, when did helping someone overcome a life-threatening eating disorder become about social justice and alternative lifestyle agendas??
*Deep breath, Caralyn. Deep breath.*
It actually really, really pisses me off. And I need to step away from the computer for a second to cool off.
[Gets a glass of water and a snack.]
OK. I’m more level headed now.
Instead of using the rest of this article to take a proverbial crap all over the efforts of, I’m sure, well-meaning…though absolutely agenda’d-people, I’m going to instead focus on the message that, if I were in charge of this #NEDAweek, I would put out into the world.
And just what is that, you ask?
IT. GETS. BETTER.
That is true for the sufferer who is so caught in the black vortex of an eating disorder, unable to see past the next meal *she (or he) has to consume, or the destructive ED-behavior she’s trying to sneakily engage in, or isolating herself from anyone who has love and concern for her. IT GETS BETTER.
That’s true for the parent or loved one, who is watching their daughter-sister-friend wasting away before their very eyes, feeling completely helpless and unable to reach their loved one who has become cold, detached, withdrawn and full of rage. IT GETS BETTER.
That’s true for the ED warrior who, after facing her demons in either inpatient or with a professional team, is now in the trenches and battling with every fiber of her being to stay on the path of recovery, despite the slings and arrows thrown at her by the voice of her eating disorder, luring her back into a life of destruction. IT GETS BETTER.
Hope is one of the most powerful forces in the world. And whether you’re in the throes of an eating disorder, watching someone you love suffer, or trudging through the life-long obstacle course of recovery, hope is the difference between beating this hellish disease, and succombing to, what could ultimately cost you everything.
When I was in the throes of anorexia, the brain fog I was in at 78 pounds made my thinking almost manic. (Granted I was also on the highest dose of the steroid, Prednisone at the time for my Ulcerative Colitis, so that surely didn’t help.) But hope was simply unimaginable. I couldn’t even fathom anything other than living to lose weight. I couldn’t even conceptualize a life that wasn’t ruled by stringent food rules, rituals and schedules. Where my existence hinged upon my body image, the number on the scale, how my “measuring stick” jeans fit. Happiness? It was a foreign concept. I lived in a perpetual state of anguish, fear, anxiety, panic, anger.
Left to my own accord, there was no possible way for hope to penetrate through the stone wall fortress I had erected around my heart, my spirit, my life. I was living to protect my anorexia, and woe to anyone or anything that tried to reach me.
It is a miracle I am alive. Ask any nurse who processed my intake at inpatient. Physically, it is an absolute miracle that my heart didn’t give out, as my body was literally existing on my own muscle and tissues.
And yes, praise God. That is absolutely true.
But if you ask me, the greatest miracle of all, was Jesus bursting through that barrier and being the Living Hope that not only was the cornerstone and catalyst of even believing I wanted to — or could — get better, but the Living Hope that has sustained me every day since.
The Living Hope that continues to drown out the Voice of ED — or rather, the enemy — who never relents in trying to draw a warrior back in. The Living Hope that I depend on to whisper me words of truth that I have worth. That I am loved and forgiven. That I am not a burden. That I am worthy of recovery.
I would have no recovery without Him. Period. I would still be right back in that pit of the basement of rock bottom where He found me, and rescued me from.
IT GETS BETTER when we surrender it to Him.
That is what I would plaster all over the place if I were in charge of this week.
All this other lip service junk is simply noise that is detracting from the real message that anyone suffering, witnessing, or reclaiming life afterwards — desperately needs to hear: the message of hope.
And that is precisely why I continue on with this blog – and why I wrote my book, Bloom. [Available here.]
I’ll leave you with the Bible verse, shared with me by a very impactful person in my life, during my battle with anorexia. I clung to it during recovery, and perhaps, you will too: Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
IT GETS BETTER.
“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10
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