By Jenni Schaefer, USA
One thing is for sure: Ed (aka “eating disorder”) wants to silence you. He might say that your voice doesn’t matter, that you can’t possibly make a difference. But, no surprise here, he is lying—again. The truth is that we need your voice added to the eating disorders advocacy efforts throughout the world.
My personal eating disorder recovery has taught me that my voice does, in fact, matter. That is how I found the determination to write and publish my first book, Life Without Ed. And that book required a lot of persistence. I received dozens of rejection letters from literary agents and publishers in New York City. I kept sending letters out about the book, because recovery taught me to, “Fall down seven times, stand up eight,” which is my favorite Japanese proverb.
Speaking of Japan, that same book that was rejected over and over again in the United States—has now been now available in China and Korea, too. Take that, Ed!)
Even a Tweet can bring hope
We definitely need more hope around the globe. And that is why we need you to join our advocacy efforts. People who I meet at speaking engagements often tell me, “There are so many books out there about eating disorders. I don’t have anything new to say.” But that line of thinking is flawed. Your unique story has never been shared. And you don’t need to write a book if you don’t like writing. Even one short, inspiring Tweet can make a big difference in someone’s life. If you enjoy public speaking (yes, some people do!), reach out to a local school about talking with students. Click here for the National Eating Disorders Association’s “Guidelines for Sharing your Story Responsibly.” In whatever way works best for you, share your truth.
We also need your help in sharing the “Nine Truths about Eating Disorders.” Created by the Academy for Eating Disorders in collaboration with Dr Cynthia Bulik and leading associations in the field, the “Nine Truths” is a powerful tool for increasing public awareness and understanding about eating disorders.
The “Nine Truths” include the message that families can be important allies in treatment. If you are a loved one, we need you in the fight, too. Historically, moms have created powerful change. Just think about the incredible efforts of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in the United States. Through MADD’s advocacy work, nearly 330,000 lives have been saved. Recently, I met a fiercely passionate mom, Nancy Clarkson, who is involved with Mothers Against Eating Disorders (MAED). Listening to parents like Nancy is inspiring. As a National Recovery Advocate of Eating Recovery Center’s Family Institute, I am committed to harnessing the power of families everywhere to achieve change.
We often hear about how eating disorders can tear families apart, but we don’t hear enough about how recovery can bring families together.
Out of all of the “Nine Truths,” the final one is my favorite: full recovery is possible. This is the critical message that formed the basis of my second book, Goodbye Ed, Hello Me. People frequently say, “Jenni, you are the only person I know who is recovered from an eating disorder.” But I am not the only one; I have met hundreds of recovered people. Those struggling need to hear from a diverse array of people who have made it to the other side. If you are recovered, let others know. You don’t have to share online or with a microphone. When ready, simply connect one-on-one with someone who is battling an eating disorder.
How will you contribute to change?
There are countless ways to create change. Consider your unique talents and passions. Are you an artist? Submit an entry to the International Association of Eating Disorders
Professionals’ yearly “Imagine Me…Beyond What You See” art competition. Are you a
skilled organizer? Start a National Eating Disorders Association Walk, or begin an Eating Disorders Anonymous meeting. What else can you do? Volunteer for an eating disorders research study. Work toward legislative change. Do you like music? Write an encouraging song, and share it on YouTube. When you combine your skills and interests with your advocacy efforts, you never know what might happen. I assure you that I never thought the song, “Life Without Ed,” would be translated into Japanese!
Be creative. Start something that has never been done before. At Eating Recovery Center, we just kicked off the first-ever Eating Recovery Day on May 3rd. The day began as a simple idea and became a wildly inspirational 24 hours. I have a hunch this is exactly what will happen with World Eating Disorders Action Day on June 2nd.
Right now, you probably have an idea about how you might get involved. It is also likely that Ed is infusing some doubts. Harness the power of the World Eating Disorders Action Day community, and don’t let Ed steal your voice.
We need your truth. We need you to share the “Nine Truths.” We need you.
A National Recovery Advocate of Eating Recovery Center’s Family Institute, Jenni Schaefer is a bestselling author and internationally known speaker. She has appeared on shows like Today and Dr. Oz, as well as in publications ranging from Cosmopolitan to The New York Times. Jenni’s books include Goodbye Ed, Hello Me and her latest with Harvard Medical School, Almost Anorexic: Is My (or My Loved One’s) Relationship with Food a Problem? Her first book, Life Without Ed, which launched her as a leading light in the recovery movement, has been released in a tenth anniversary edition and audiobook. Jenni is also Chair of the Ambassadors Council of the National Eating Disorders Association.
Join Jenni 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.