Tragically, eating disorders remain a misunderstood and even maligned illness in today's society, needlessly laden with guilt or shame. How sad that it should take an act of courage for those who suffer to actually come forward for help. That must change. Because no one should suffer this disease alone.
Eating disorders aren't something we choose for ourselves. No one is responsible for or in any way to be blamed for developing the disease. Anyone can become ill -- regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, income level, religious affiliation, or sexual preference.
Eating disorders are not a lifestyle, and they are so much more than a diet gone awry. Despite their name and symptoms, eating disorders actually have little to do with food, weight, or body image. Often, they are a way to cope with difficult problems or regain a sense of control. They are complicated illnesses that affect a person's sense of identity, worth, and self esteem. The factors that contribute to their development are complex, as are their physical, emotional, and social consequences.
Our world is not an easy place for someone struggling with an eating disorder. It delivers a constant barrage of triggers, confusing messages, and unrealistic expectations. Getting past an eating disorder is a process rather than a matter of resolve. There isn't a quick-fix or one-size-fits-all solution -- and it isn't something one can do on their own. Recovery requires a lot of support over time, in a way that feels safe and genuinely caring, and through programs and services that fit the needs of the person suffering, not the provider. Set-backs happen. One's return to happy, healthful living seldom follows a straight path - but it's a path that does exist and is worth taking.
This is the most important thing to understand about eating disorders: Recovery is possible. We've been through it ourselves.