An eating disorder is a lonely, isolating illness. Food is a pretty social part of our lives, and we use meals to connect and form bonds. When you have an uncomfortable relationship with food, the last thing you want to do is sit down for a meal with other people who may not understand what is going on (through no fault of their own) at best, and judge you negatively at worst. Whether your disorder manifests itself through restricting, bingeing, purging, or some other form, chances are you prefer situations where food is not involved.
While you’re going through whatever form of hell your ED is putting you through, one of the most important things things to have access to is a support network. This can be a group of professionals, friends, family, teachers, team members, anyone who can help you when you feel like you have no strength left in you with which to keep fighting. After all, EDs can make you feel completely and utterly helpless and hopeless. Struggling with one is exhausting since food is such an integral and essential part of our lives.
I have been incredibly lucky in that I have had an amazing support network available to me every step of the way. When people bend over backwards to help you out, have the patience of saints, and hold you when you cry without asking questions, sometimes you feel like you might not ever be able to repay those people. So, as small as this token of recognition is, I wanted to give back by paying tribute to the people who help me every single day.
- Nat is probably the most important part of my support network. He recognizes how hard it is to remain patient, but he never ever gives up on me. He props me up when I can’t stand on my own, he loves me unconditionally, he always knows the right thing to say, and he will stop at nothing to make me smile. I don’t know where I would be without him.
- My family is wonderful. My two sisters are amazing listeners and give great advice. They have both worked hard to understand what makes an ED so hard. My brother-in-law and future brother-in-law are everything you could want in a brother–supportive, fun to be around, and great to talk to. My parents are loving and accepting. My niece and nephew are the sweetest people on the planet, and sources of laughter and incredible amounts of love. They also remind me how rich, wonderful, and amazing life can be. Even my extended family is great–my aunts, uncle, and grandmother care about me and I know they are always there for me.
- My friends are a blessing. Whether Mike is taking time to talk to me about something that’s upsetting me or helping me make changes to my blog, he is patient and caring. Lily is my oldest friend and will drop everything to be with me if I need her. Sonia is far away, but always in my heart because of her wisdom, kindness, effervescent spirit, and love. The friends I have at work are always happy to listen to me vent, offer advice, cheer me up, make me laugh, and talk about YA books and boy bands.
- My treatment team is really great and has helped me immensely over the past year.
As hard as things can sometimes be, I know that I wouldn’t be as far along in my recovery as I am now if it weren’t for all these people. I am really, really grateful to all of them, and I hope that this shows through and that I am able to offer them support when they need it.
As I continue to recover, it becomes more and more important to me that those who are in need of support and help with their ED-related struggles feel they have someone to talk to, or at least somewhere to go (either physically or virtually) to feel that they are not as alone as they feel. I hope that this blog can somehow serve to provide support and lessen the pain of an eating disorder, if only very slightly. Everyone deserves to have a support network, and everyone deserves a fighting chance against their ED.
- Supportive Websites For Help With Eating Disorders (fitsugar.com)
- Eating Disorders Awareness Week (blogher.com)
- Support for Eating Disorders (everydayhealth.com)
- 5 Ideas to Honor National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (psychologytoday.com)