“It happened both slowly and all at once. I don’t remember how my eating disorder began; I don’t remember the first time I skipped a meal or the first time I purged. I just know it changed my entire life.
Every time someone asks me how I can suffer with disordered eating–commenting how I “look great”–I simply shake my head. The common misunderstanding about eating disorders is that they are fully about looks. Sure, I wanted to look beautiful, but it was mostly about control. I started my battle with bulimia when I was in the darkest stages of my depression and my entire life was out of control. Eating, or not eating, was something I could control.
My family has always been supportive and I can confidently say I wouldn’t be here today if they weren’t by my side during my entire mental health recovery. Yet, my disordered eating has been very hard for them to understand; I couldn’t always explain to them how I lacked the ability to feed myself correctly, something that is a natural human instinct.
Eating disorder recovery is a lifelong journey. The consequences on your body are forever with you: anemia, bruising easily, slow metabolism, the question if I’ll be able to have children. I will never consider myself fully recovered.
I’ve been fighting this battle with myself since I was 16-years-old, and some days I still open the fridge door and can’t bring myself to eat. Eating disorders aren’t a switch you can turn on and off, it’s an addiction.
We don’t choose this, so be patient with us. I promise we’re trying to get better.”
This month I had the amazing opportunity of sharing the above story through ‘Healthy Minds- Healthy Campuses’ for Provincial Eating Disorder Awareness Week. PEDAW is just one of the many initiatives to raise awareness about mental health. Bell ‘Let’s Talk’ day is another example of one.
It’s exciting to see so many recent initiatives to get the conversation about Mental Health going. However- we can’t stop there.
The conversation about Mental Health needs more than just a day or a week. It’s not something that we should think about on these awareness days and forget for the rest of the year. We need to keep the conversation going. More than that, we need to turn this conversation into change.
We still treat mental health very different than physical health. If you missed your run this morning, you’ll head to the gym after work. If you skipped breakfast, you’ll be sure to have a good lunch. If you’re feeling tired, you’ll try to catch up on sleep. And if you’ve got a fever, you’ll go and get it checked out. With physical health, it’s second nature. But with mental health, it’s not how most of us think. We ignore issues. We bury them. And we don’t do anything until it’s impairing our ability to function.
Most of us don’t even know the basics for taking care of our mental health and supporting the people we care about. That’s a huge problem. It means that we’re not tackling small challenges before they become serious issues.
We need to do more. We need to think about this every day and start taking care of our Mental Health.