NEDAwareness week is all about putting the spotlight on eating disorders (ED) - educating people about what they are, how they work, who suffers from them, and ways to recover or support someone in their recovery. NEDA is an incredible organization, and it's helping so many people find hope. If you want more information about NEDA and all the miracles they work, just click HERE.
The article was written by super-mom/person Joni Edelman, and she has a ton more amazing articles that you can read here: http://www.ravishly.com
First off let me say that Joni's article is not about her having an eating disorder, but part of her article really stood out to me, that I can very much relate to now, and also reminded me a lot of myself when I was going through my ED. Some commenters even remarked to Joni that she was attaining her thin physique by "doing it wrong", and a few went as far as diagnosing her with having had an eating disorder, which I found insulting and dangerous, but I digress..
Joni speaks about her thin physique, saying:
"The other body you see there, the body of "physical hotness," I attained by eating a "plentiful" 1,000 calories a day; by running 35 miles a week (10 on Sunday); by sleeping an average of three hours a day; by counting every bit of food I ate, down to a single cherry tomato; by writing and tracking my weight every day for a year; by running the stairs of the hospital during my 12-hour shifts; by losing my period; by denying myself food when I was hungry; by denying myself sleep."
Now. I get this. I get this a lot. I've never run 35 miles in my life, but I understand her obsessive behavior with food and with exercise. Perhaps, she had an ED. Perhaps she didn't. Just because someone's trying to attain a certain body image this way doesn't necessarily mean they have an ED. You'd be surprised by how many women and men are "getting in shape" this way. I know at least a handful, and one thing I can tell you is no, it's not healthy to eat 1000 calories a day, especially if you're active, or be so obsessive with food or exercise, but also - just because it's not healthy doesn't mean it's an ED. Many people diet and exercise this way and with these mindsets because they're misinformed. They aren't educated on the healthy ways to get in shape. They're just going with the flow, and you'd be shocked by how much of the flow is going the wrong way - cue the starvation dieters and juicers.
Joni's article is about loving yourself and finding happiness with a part of yourself you've been battling-whatever that part might be. It's about realizing what's really going to make you happy, and what you want to spend the time that you've been allotted in life doing. She may have taken her obsessive behaviors concerning her food and exercise to an extreme, and perhaps if she'd try to get in shape in a healthier way, she'd be thinner now, but maybe she wouldn't. Who cares, though. It's her life, and only she knows what makes her truly happy.
What's really important is that she found a way to be healthy and happy after a long time of not being healthy or happy, and that sends a message to people all over - fat or thin depressed or no- that there is a way to find love in yourself, for yourself.
I know that I've been at all spots on the body battle spectrum. I know I'm happiest when I'm comfortable in my own body, and right now, even as I write this, I am not. I'm admittedly a little jealous of Joni. She's reached that ever elusive place for me, where she's happy and comfy in her skin and in her mind:
"But now, I see dramatic changes not only in my body, but also in my mind. There is a stillness, a joy, and a peace I've never had. It's worth 10 pounds. Ten pounds are insignificant when compared to my willingness to let some things go, to sit with my kids, to sleep."
Don't get me wrong - I've been there, or at least, I've been super duper close to that promised land of body love. Recently I've slightly relapsed and my days in love yourself land are fewer than I'd like. Some of it's just part of living with body dysmorphic disorder. Some of it's due to depression, quitting birth control, and stress. I am obsessing again over food and my workouts - Don't eat that. How many calories is that? Can I workout twice today? I ate a donut -I'll have to do an extra 10 on the elliptical.
I won't starve myself, but some days I do get close. I catch myself and scold myself (I get incredibly hangry) and then I feed myself, even if it's hard. Even if I don't want to. It's a constant tug of war. I actually really love food, but find it hard to enjoy it or want it when I think so negatively about what it's "doing to my body".
I have spent hours a day thinking about the four pairs of pants sitting in my closet that don't fit around my hips that did fit 6 months ago. Shouldn't have had that donut, or wine, or taco...
I've lost sleep over scheduling workouts in my head, pep talking myself at 3am to get up at 5:30am, only to exhaust myself to the point where I actually cannot get up until 8am.
I've been late for work or skipped events entirely because getting dressed causes a panic attack, and I can't find anything to wear.
So much of this probably seems really silly or vain to anyone who'd never had an ED or BDD, or any other mental disorder, but it's not silly, and it's not about vanity. It is a compulsion, an obsession, and a prison. It is a disease that robs you of feeling at home in your own body, and mind, and it sucks.
**Author sidenote** I love the person that I am. I know I'm funny and outgoing and strong and smart and witty. I am kind and creative and romantic and adventurous. When I talk about my body image issues, I'm not saying I hate myself, or that I'm suicidal. I hate my disease. I hate that I can't always have control over it. I hate that there are times I have let it defeat me and interfere with my life.
That said, I do have days where I feel a lot like Joni feels now. Days where I am mostly peaceful when I look in the mirror and find myself only mildly worrying about that little bit of hip fat, or stomach chub, or back fat or how round my face is. I have some days where I do feel comfortable in my own skin, unaware of what my pants may be squeezing, or the bumps on my face, and for me that's a real triumph. It feels like I've won the lottery on the days that I don't feel the weight of my imperfections sitting on top of my shoulders. I eat whatever I want - calories be damned! YOLO! I think -What's more important - how I feel about how I look right now, or how I feel about what I'm experiencing right now?
I remind myself of how strong I feel at the gym - even if I'm only doing ONE workout, and I let myself be proud of all I have accomplished, even the small stuff.
I use recovery techniques, organizations like NEDA, and inspiring stories like Joni's to pull me away from the dark side.
I remind myself that despite my lowest lows, I am alive, I have people who love me, and I have the ability to live.
I remind myself that recovery is possible, and it's a process.
I remind myself that failing isn't the falling down. It's staying down. (Thanks, James Patterson!)
I remind myself that there is so much more to life than what I am feeling inside of this disordered mind, and I am lucky to be able to experience all it has to offer me.
I remind myself that too many ED sufferers can no longer say any of the above. This disease kills. Please help NEDA's message of hope and recovery reach even just one person, before it's too late for someone else.
#NEDAwareness2015 #NEDA #healthyisthenewskinny #loveyourself #recoveryispossible