Seeking help for any mental illness, let alone an eating disorder, is no easy task. Preparing yourself for the challenges you may experience can help you advocate for the support you need.
The messages we've created this year aim to validate many of the barriers people face in accessing support for their eating disorder, while also offering empowering options that people can consider despite living in a system where many are left waiting for inclusive and appropriate care.
As we collectively work towards creating a better system for all, we want you to remember that you deserve help, you do not have to wait until you meet criteria for a clinical diagnosis to receive support, and there are actions that you can take now.
You, too, can overcome the b(ear)riers you face.
For more information on this topic, Natalie Doan from NIED spearheaded the development of a tip-sheet that you can download and share by clicking on the link below.
"People won't take me seriously because I don't look like I have an eating disorder"
The belief that only certain people are affected by eating disorders is a widespread misconception. Eating disorders do not discriminate; they affect people of all genders, ages, sizes, classes, sexualities, abilities, races, and ethnic backgrounds. No matter how you look, your struggle with food, weight, and body image is valid.
"I'm embarrassed to admit I have an eating disorder."
Similar to other medical and mental illnesses, eating disorders are not personal choices. They are complex illnesses that arise from a combination of biological, psychological, social, and cultural factors.
"I'm worried what my family and friends will think or do when they find out I have an eating disorder."
Although well-intentioned, loved ones may not always respond supportively at first. Encourage your loved ones to learn more about eating disorders by reading books, articles, and brochures. The EDAW partner organizations are an excellent place to start.
"Nobody will be able to help me."
Although it may seem very lonely at times, there are individuals and organizations dedicated to supporting people affected by eating disorders and related concerns, such as depression, anxiety, substance use, and trauma. The NEDIC service provider directory can help you get started in finding the right support.
"I don't need help. I can handle my problems by myself."
It takes incredible strength and courage to ask for help and support. By accessing support for eating disorder symptoms, you can help prevent them from negatively affecting your well-being.
"I'm concerned how taking time off for appointments might affect my school or work."
Making the time to treat your eating disorder appropriately takes a lot of strength. By taking time off to attend to your health, you can perform better in school and work.
"My local community lacks resources and it's difficult for me to travel to appointments."
Several eating disorder professionals and organizations offer online services. Depending on the format you prefer, Body Brave, Eating Disorders Nova Scotia, Eating Disorder Support Network of Alberta, and the Looking Glass Foundation are excellent resources regardless of where you live!
"I don't have anyone who can help me find support."
It takes a lot of bravery to ask for help. A great resource that can help you during this process is NEDIC's toll-free helpline and instant chat service. When you call, a trained support worker can provide you with options and figure out next steps. You have allies who want to help you get better.