February 1-7 is Eating Disorder Awareness Week across Canada – a time to promote awareness of the significant impact of Eating Disorders and offer education about the dangerous misconceptions that too often accompany them. We also want to want to remind those personally affected by an eating disorder that recovery is possible! You have value and an identity outside of an eating disorder, and deserve to move towards recovery and freedom.
3 Truths about Eating Disorders:
1. An eating disorder can affect anyone regardless of shape, size, age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or socio-economic status. It’s a wide spread misconception that eating disorders only impact certain people. This belief can create shame for someone who is struggling with an eating disorder and fear to tell others or seek support. If struggles with food or your body image are impacting your quality of life, you deserve support.
2. Someone struggling with an eating disorder often works hard to hide their struggles, which can make it hard to see them as someone with a mental illness. This leads to a misconception of seeing the eating disorder as an issue of choice, which can create shame for the person struggling. An eating disorder is a complex mental illness and is never a choice.
3. Recovery is possible! In the words of a previous Westwind client . . .
"Anorexia. The faceless monster that held me in its grip for years. So many times I thought anorexia was my savior. The knight in his shimmering armor, riding on a white horse towards me. The kind of salvation I have spent nights praying for.
Anorexia came to me as the devil in disguise, when I thought my pain would kill me. Offering me everything I thought I could never find elsewhere. I fed myself lies for years. I knew I drank poison when anorexia offered me water. But I drank it anyway.
I still wonder how I found the power to step out of this cold kind of hell. But I did it. My power was there, it has always been. Somewhere buried deep down within myself.
I looked the devil in the eyes and I defeated him. And that is the only way. You cannot kill a monster by running from it.
Recovery is so terribly painful and so breathtakingly beautiful.
For a long time I thought I’d rather die than to recover. But once I had found my courage I discovered what freedom meant for me. Freedom has always played a huge role in my life. It was the only thing I had always longed for ever since, always out of reach, so I thought.
That was what recovery from my eating disorder was about for me. I stepped out of my comfort zone and realized the only thing that would bring me freedom was to face all of my fears.
When heavy chains of fear are holding you down, get up, find your courage and break them. When you are scared face your fear.
As long as you believe in yourself you will overcome it. You will always be stronger if you have the courage to find your own freedom within you. Just never stop looking for it. Fight for it. If I could do it you can too. "
If you’re seeking support and information about eating disorders, the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) can help provide resources. Recovery is possible, and you deserve it!