Hi. This is me. I'm wearing purple this week as a show of solidarity and desire for awareness regarding eating disorders. It's National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and I want you to know that eating disorders don't always look like you think they do. I want you to know it's not a 'cool kids club' to belong to. I want you to know it isn't always about vanity (in fact, it often isn't). I want you to know that disordered thoughts thrive on feelings of shame, desires for control or perfection and the resulting shame that comes from the fact that we can never truly have either. I want you to know that some people see me as this horribly overweight person and think I must be gluttonous and lazy (I've been told by family members so this isn't something I'm making up), when the reality is that some days it is terribly difficult to put food in my mouth, regardless of its nutritional value. I want you to know that some days it is hard to be mindful of what I eat because it feels so shameful to need to care. I want you to know that sometimes just forget to eat or just forget to pay attention to what I eat. I want you to know that sometimes I fear food. That I reached a place where I was so concerned with good food versus bad food that I became fearful of food and would starve myself rather than eat something 'bad'. I want you to know those times are becoming fewer and farther between. I want you to know that it is because of friends sharing their struggles and being safe places for me, helping me to recognize those ED thoughts- to catch, challenge, and change them. I want you to know it is because sometimes I've shared that hard with you and you have validated me and not shamed me. I want you to know that a couple weeks ago I got some comments about "looking really good" and questions about having lost weight....but the reality was that I was in the midst of a shame spiral at the time and had barely eaten because I could find no appetite amidst my heavy emotions. But I didn't give up and I didn't step on the scale because I knew that it would only contribute to the demons that would come again even if I was feeling better again. I want you to know that in spite of that hard period, I actually felt okay (and relieved at that) because I was self aware and I was trying and I was feeling and hurting and it was hard but I was doing my best-- and my husband was fully aware of what was going on and was remarkably supportive and loving and kind and helpful. And so I have even more hope.
Disordered eating is no respector of persons. It is insidious but it doesn't need to be shameful. It is something I still struggle with but am getting better with and have a hope for continued improvement with. I believe that possible through shame-busting and tribe-finding. 😉
If you are committed to busting shame, to being a safe person for those who struggle, to educating and raising awareness- will you wear purple this week and share photos? Share information? Share hope? Because even if it isn't YOU who is struggling, someone you know likely is.