A few years ago, I started to reconsider whether telling my personal story of recovery is productive to the effort to reduce the social stigma and shame that has been problematically linked to eating disorders.
TRIGGER WARNING: the following material may be triggering for some individuals - please read with caution.
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Ten years ago I began to see signs in a different language–signs that I ignored. However, even though I disregarded them, they persisted in ever growing intensity. Was I a traveler exploring this vast world of ours? No. I was just a mom who held down a part time job while homeschooling my two daughters full time. So, what were these foreign signs? They were the signs of my youngest daughter’s journey down the rabbit hole we call eating disorders.
Trigger Warning: the following materials may be triggering for some individuals - please read with caution.
How do you make someone else understand exactly what it’s like to hate yourself? They usually just don’t get it and the conversation ends up as something like this:
“There must be something about yourself that you love.. Or at least like”
“I mean, I get good grades, so I guess I’m not a complete idiot”
Photo by Cooper Smith on Unsplash
Starting my recovery was the hardest decision I ever made, but I was thankful to have a supportive and trusting person by my side. My partner was the first person I ever opened up to about my eating disorder. Before them, like many, I was very secretive and ashamed of my disorder. Recently, that relationship has ended and as hard as it has been, re-entering the dating world has proven to be even more difficult.
The holidays present a lot of challenges for people with eating disorders. Not only is there a heavy focus on food, body image, and “healthy” new year’s resolutions, but often there are interactions with distant family members or friends—people you don’t necessarily see on a weekly or monthly basis.
This doesn’t affect me as much anymore, but seeing distant relatives used to be a trigger for me because many of them didn’t know about my gender identity.
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Body image is such a sensitive topic, sure it's covered in school and we are told to embrace our bodies and love ourselves for who we are, but then we are bombarded with all this social media. Tabloids are telling us what the ideal body is and what is considered fit, healthy, and attractive… and if you do not have those traits or qualities then we are not beautiful. The past few years I have been struggling with body image.