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It's Eating Disorders Awareness Week in Canada (Feb.1-7, 2017). It has taken me about 15 years to ADMIT that I had an eating disorder (anorexia nervosa) as a child and teenager. If you know someone with an eating disorder, here are a few things to be aware of.
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By and large, we live in a diet-obsessed society, so my health nuttiness went unnoticed. Plus, like most individuals with eating disorders, I was a master at hiding all this dysfunctional behaviour for many years. I was also incredibly successful at outwardly presenting a well put-together front when facing the world. I had been a model student, a star employee, a good friend and doting auntie to my young nephews. Until it all came crashing down on me.
A few days ago, I came across a blog post in which the blogger made a comment about how each roll of skin on her tummy represented a happy moment with her family in which she enjoyed that chocolate cake at her child's birthday party or had skipped the Jillian Michael's exercise DVD that morning so she could sit on the floor and colour with her daughter. For the first time in my life, the realization of my sick mindset entrenched in the lost, wasted, hungry hours I chose in order to be the thinnest mom on the block finally beat me over the head with a barbell.
My scale was deweaponized, bedazzled and a thing of beauty, finally. I was using it for the wrong thing -- to reflect my worth as a person. I turned it into wall art so that it finally reflects me, but on the inside. Sparkly. Sassy. Fun. Pretty. Glittery. Girly. Expressive.
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The stories have not changed in 25 years. Canadians with eating disorders and their families still struggle. Boys and girls, young men and women are still told they have a choice and they should just eat. Parents continue to be blamed, and families still complain: where is the education that allows frontline health practitioners to recognize eating disorders, where is the early intervention, and where is the access to care?
Here's the thing: eating disorders are not about a fear of getting fat. The weight gain is not fueled by the number on the scale, but by the feeling of perfection at having maintained self-control.
I have struggled -- and I mean struggled -- with an eating disorder for over 12 years. No one could have conveyed to me how extremely hard it is to give up severe bulimia. But then, no one told me how easy it could be. Every day, many (up to 10) times a day, bulimia took care of me.