As Bold collaborates with NEDA for this year’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week, my mind, of course, goes to my own recovery experience.
A huge challenge in ED recovery is that one’s weight can increase. It’s normal, healthy- and usually the biggest fear someone struggling with disordered eating and body dysmorphia can face.
When I sought treatment 21 years ago, I gained a significant amount of weight in a year. That was due to my body returning to a weight more appropriate for my frame/genetics, as well as repairing itself. I embraced food again and was socializing more. It felt great. But it was a shock to see how differently I was treated in a large body by acquaintances, strangers, a few not-so-good friends, and even one clinician who was very bad at her job. It didn’t help that movies like “Shallow Hal” and “Bridget Jones’ Diary” were popular at the time.
It’s hard to hear others call you “unhealthy” or treat you like a failure when you know how much better you’ve gotten, and much you’ve won. Imagine having a long illness, constantly worrying, being in pain, feeling isolated and scared. Then taking very hard steps to accept help and treatment. And treatment is hard. Anybody who tells you that therapy is all about “And how does that make you feel?” or “And what do we say when…?” has no business speaking on the topic and should probably learn to shut up. Imagine doing all that and then being told by the world, “You looked better/healthier before.”
I had a team, or a “table” as I got better, and I still do. I didn’t know my husband when I was ill, but over 16 years, he’s seen my body change and his love and support have only gotten stronger. My family would (and have) helped me to always remember what really matters and who I am. So have some wonderful friends.
Nicole Byer, I can’t say I’ve had the pleasure of meeting! And she’s a different type of activist. Her way of fighting back against fatphobia and Diet Culture is through humor- brilliant, biting, sarcastic humor that shows the absurdity and stupidity of size prejudice. I enjoy her standup, her writing, her style and her unapologetic stance on respect.
I am well-aware that I got better partially because of privilege. I had access to excellent providers, and had my needs taken care of. My goal is to somehow be a part of someone’s healing every day, even if by supporting their social media post or talking privately.
Recovery doesn’t stop. It goes on. A full table of support definitely helps.
And a full plate is just fine, too.