“I Had No Idea”

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is a wonderful organization who works to raise awareness about eating disorders and provide resources for those struggling. Every year they host NEDAwareness Week, in which they spread knowledge and resources through a variety of avenues. NEDAwareness Week 2015 is ending today. The theme this year was “I Had No Idea…” and it’s a phrase that many people hear when they tell those close to them that they’re struggling with an eating disorder. It is a common thought that those who have serious eating disorders are supposed to be extremely and obviously skinny, while this tends to be true for those with Anorexia, this is only a percentage of people with eating disorders. The truth is that eating disorders affect men & women of all shapes and sizes, skin colors, and ages.

“I had no idea” is also something those who spread awareness hear often when sharing facts about eating disorders. The truth is that as a society and in our culture, we are generally ignorant to signs of mental illness and do what we can do avoid the subject altogether.

This week’s focuses were:
1) I Had No Idea that the “Perfect” Images I See Every Day are Digital Illusions
2) I Had No Idea that Eating Disorders Do Not Discriminate
3) I Had No Idea that My Passion Had Become a Problem (Athletes are at higher risk of developing an eating disorder)
4) I Had No Idea that Bullying can Trigger Disordered Eating
5) I Had No Idea that my Quest for Health was Making Me Sick
6) I Had No Idea that Eating Disorders are Often Overlooked or Misdiagnosed – Even by Doctors
7) I Had No Idea that Eating Disorders Aren’t Just a “Phase”

In the United States, approximately 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Eating disorders are serious illnesses, and it’s about time the stigma ends. From Anorexia to Bulimia to Binge Eating Disorder and everything in between – educate yourself about the signs and reach out to those you see struggling, and if you are the one suffering please seek help.

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Sometimes those of us who are in recovery are so focused on our journey that we overlook and accidently judge others. It is so important to remember that everyone has a story, you never know where or what situation people are coming from. Everyone knows someone who is struggling, keep your eyes, ears, and heart open.

My personal road to recovery has been a long one, with many ups and downs along on the way. But today, I am happy to say that I am closer to genuinely loving myself than I ever have been. I still have a long way to go, but I am enjoying the adventure. The point of me saying this is to remind you that there is always hope. No matter how dark your day may seem, never give up.

I have been a NEDA Navigator since 2013, and it’s something that I absolutely love. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder please feel free to email me at natalieo@pfn.nationaleatingdisorders.org.

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