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Archive for October 20, 2017

The Badge

By Emily P.

For seven years, my ribs were a badge of honor. When they peeked through, I was powerful. As though the wars I fought with my body were worth the pain. Badge

I earned that badge by skipping meals, throwing up, and hiding my food. My stomach flattened and my ribs rose. Sometimes, I imagined them bursting past my skin, and that felt strangely comforting.

I didn’t care that I froze when the air conditioning switched on. I ignored the bulging wads of hair that fell from my scalp. I disregarded my stinking breath and the blurred vision when I stood up. As long as I saw those ribs, I was superb.

But during my second year of college, I slowly morphed out of counting calories and obsessing over portion-sizes. I grew tired of my brain’s daily acrobatics with food, and I changed my focus.

I focused on friendships, creative projects, school, hard work: anything that pushed the eating disorder out of my skull, little by little.

Today, I don’t obsess over that badge anymore. I eat until I’m full, and I’ve learned to mostly love my ever-changing body. But there’s always a meek question that protrudes through my thoughts: Will I ever relapse?

It’s frightening to think about.

I cried the first time my double zero jeans felt tight. My brain set off an internal hurricane when I couldn’t pull them past my thighs. Learning to love my health and myself, that was a strenuous fight. And I don’t want to fall back into my former mindset, to fall back into Anorexia.

But there are moments. Moments when I see a bit of my rib in the mirror and a glimmer of pride emerges.

That’s when awareness snaps over me and I push that pride aside, concentrating on self-love.

I used to view Anorexia as a lightswitch that you could click off. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

But there are moments. And maybe there will always be moments. Moments signaling that the fight’s not over. Moments that morph my ribs back into a badge of honor.

It helps to acknowledge moments like these. Understanding these mental changes and actively thinking about my health, that’s how I cope.

And while people deal with Anorexia in different ways, I wonder if the feeling of uncertainty is universal. As I fight and look past my former badge of honor, I accept that my mentality isn’t black and white. That while I am better, I’ll strive to work through the gray.

To look back on the badge as a distant memory. To develop a new badge of honor: my health.

Kitty Westin TEDx Talk

 

 

Please see Kitty Westin on her recent TEDx Talk discussing ending the stigma and shame around eating disorders and the importance of being an advocate for mental illness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Experiencing Advocacy Day in 2017

By Caroline Kinskey

edc carolineI traveled alone for the first time to attend EDC Advocacy Day in Washington D.C.  I was nervous to be flying and traveling alone, but also excited and incredibly grateful that The Emily Program Foundation provided me with this opportunity to advocate for those suffering with eating disorders.

After breakfast and chatting with other advocates on Capitol Hill, Amy Klobuchar gave the opening address. She was inspiring, and I am proud to live in a state that has a senator who passionately advocates for the eating disorders community. Message training followed, which informed the advocates of the goals for the day, approach strategies in telling our personal stories, and knowing what we need of the people of Congress. Specifically, we need Congress to recognize National Eating Disorder Awareness Week and urge the CDC to re-include eating disorder surveillance questions in national surveillance surveys. The team from Minnesota met with five congressional staffers. The staffers were very receptive, and it was evident that our meetings and personal stories made a difference. EDC Advocacy Days have made a marked impact in the past, and they continue to influence policy on Capitol Hill regarding eating disorders. Although there has been change, our work is not done.

Through this experience, I realized how fortunate I am to live in a country where your voice matters and is caroline edcinfluential.

When enough people speak up, change can happen at a federal level.

It was inspiring to hear people who have recovered from their eating disorders tell their personal stories and pay it forward by advocating for others still struggling. As a graduate student in clinical psychology who wants to work with individuals with eating disorders, contribute to the research, and continue to be an advocate, this experience was invaluable.