For so many years, I struggled in silence. I refused to admit to myself and to others that I had a problem that I couldn’t fix on my own. I knew for a long time that I should have gotten help for my eating disorder a lot sooner than I did. What held me back? Pride. Fear. Shame. And above all, I was held back by a lack of information about the resources available to me.
One of the many important lessons that I learned during my time at The Woodstone Residence 2012 is that eating disorders don’t happen overnight. There are so many factors that contribute to this disease and it often starts small. It could be skipping a meal or two, a new health craze, or an obsession with going to the gym. Many girls, whether they ever develop an eating disorder or not, engage in disordered eating and this is the ideal time to start seeking help.
For me, I should have sought out support before my eating disorder took over my life. But like many of my peers, I believed that I wasn’t sick enough to get help. Let me tell you now though that no matter what your stage of illness or recovery, there are resources available for you. From empathetic friends and family to private counseling and organized support groups, there are people that can help. For example, I was able to attend private therapy sessions for several months to work through the root causes of my eating disorder. My doctor also referred me to a community-based program for people with eating disorders and I participated in several outpatient groups where I worked to develop coping skills and build my commitment to recovery.
Other programs that I’ve found helpful are ABA (Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous) and OA (Overeaters Anonymous), which follow the 12-step model of recovery from addiction. The meetings are open to anyone and you are welcome but not required to share your story. What I found in ABA and OA was an incredibly supportive community of people who knew exactly what I was going through.
If you are still working up the courage to share your struggles in person, then online forums like the one the Looking Glass Foundation hosts four times a week are a great place to start. You can join a discussion anonymously and contribute or just follow along with other people’s conversations. However you choose to engage, you need to know that support is never too far away. Everyone’s road to recovery looks a little bit different, but the thing that everyone’s journey has in common is that no one does it alone. I would encourage you to plug into the resources in your local community. If you need a place to start, check out this list.