By Carrie Arnold, USA
On World Eating Disorders Day, I will probably not be thinking very much about eating disorders. It sounds odd to celebrate a day by doing your best to ignore it, so let me explain.
For the past two decades, most of my life has been consumed by eating disorders, mainly my own personal experience with anorexia. From the time I woke up until the time I went to bed (and often even in my dreams), I thought about food and weight and calories and fat grams. I thought about therapy and neurotransmitters and everything in between. I thought I would never get better.
I was lucky. I had resources on my side. I had the ability to pay extra for a therapist my insurance stopped covering. I had the resources to pay for residential treatment. I was lucky to “fit the profile” of someone with an eating disorder (young, white, female, middle class). This isn’t to say that treatment was easy or that I never had to deal with idiocy from the medical profession.
I could write books on Dumb Things Said To Me By People Who Should Know Better.
What was and is different for me was that I could find other options because I could pay for them, and there were people who would actually take me seriously.
Too many people don’t have that. Too many people can’t access treatment because it isn’t there, because there’s no one to treat their disorder in a sensitive, appropriate way, because they’ve been labeled chronic or “treatment-resistant,” or because they simply can’t afford it.
Although I don’t consider myself recovered (I still struggle with symptoms, and I believe my recovery is a part of my life, so it’s not finished until I am), I have made tremendous improvements to where I once was. Yes, recovery was a damn lot of hard work, but I also had many factors in my favor to even make that work possible.
Recovery is hard enough. It shouldn’t take a roll of the socioeconomic dice to determine who gets treatment and who gets to recover from their disorder.
I have the luxury to step away from the world of eating disorders, even if it is just for a day. I can forget, however, temporarily, that I once nearly died from my disorder, that food and weight once ruled every aspect of my life. I want everyone affected by eating disorders to have that luxury.
Carrie is a freelance science writer covering the amazing living world around us. She runs the blog ED Bites, and is the author of Decoding Anorexia: How Breakthroughs in Science Offer Hope for Eating Disorders. She lives in Virginia with her husband and cat.
Join Carrie in supporting World Eating Disorders Action Day. Be sure to follow along on Twitter @WorldEDDay and hashtag #WeDoAct, #WorldEDActionDay, @WorldEatingDisordersAction on Instagram and World Eating Disorders Action Day on Facebook.