After having my brain fully taken over by MSW research-related assignments for the past few weeks, I am feeling at home writing here.
WRITING WHAT I THINK AND WHAT I FEEL AND WHAT I WANT AND NOT CITING A G.D. THING.
APA FORMATTING, BE GONE.
And this week, National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) Awareness Week, is a week I do a lot of thinking and feeling. I have written about my personal experiences with eating disorders, shared advice and insight regarding the topic, and I often try to be an advocate for breaking the mental health stigma. Throughout my social work education experiences this past year, I have gained even more interest in the causes, systemic issues and impacts, and barriers to adequate mental health care.
Therapy for all. Therapy for all. Therapy for all.
All people need and deserve mental health care.
Come on society, catch up. *
LOOKING GLARING AT YOU, INSURANCE COMPANIES.*
Deep breath, self. Stick with the topic, self.
Personally, I think an overwhelming number of people who struggle with eating disorders and disordered-eating tendencies feel misunderstood. Misunderstood with themselves, with their relationship with their own bodies, their partners, families, friends, colleagues, bosses, and by society in general. BECAUSE, YA’LL, MENTAL ILLNESSES, DISABILITIES, AND EMOTIONAL/MENTAL DISTRESS ARE NOT ALWAYS VISIBLE. And, the ways in which eating disorder symptoms and behaviors are visible are variable and complex from person to person. FAT PEOPLE CAN HAVE ANOREXIA. SKINNY FOLKS BINGE. PURGING IS NOT LIMITED TO VOMITING. “NORMAL” PEOPLE WITH “NORMAL” BODIES AND “NORMAL” JOBS WHO DO “NORMAL” THINGS LIKE WATCH SCHITT’S CREAK AT 3AM, AND WRITE MSW RESEARCH PAPERS, AND ORGANIZE THEIR BOOKS IN RAINBOW ORDER, AND FIND GREAT PLEASURE IN A SIMPLE G&T – THEY STRUGGLE, TOO. Internalized experiences and symptoms related to eating disorders are often minimized, dismissed, misunderstood, and misinterpreted by outsiders – especially if/when the person with a mental illness is *high-functioning in society.
*A socially constructed and messed up concept that I genuinely dislike because the American Work Ethic is fucked up and problematic in many ways – especially for vulnerable, oppressed, and marginalized populations, like those with mental illness.
Deep breath, self. Stick with the topic, self.
1. This week, I hope you are able to care for your body in some way.
- move your body
- rest your body
- get intimate with yourself or with a buddy (we’ve all got needs!)
- wear a favorite outfit – hello, black leggings
- paint your nails
- take a bubble bath with one of those bath bombs that *wrecks your clean bathtub but is still so very worth it, *ahem, LUSH.
- apply a face mask
- meal prep
- skip the booze
- take your meds/vitamins/supplements
- schedule an appointment – doctor, dentist, massage
- create a sleep schedule (wish I had tips to offer here, but ya girl struggles with this)
2. This week, I hope you are able to care for your mind in some way.
Here’s what works for me:
- listening to music (noise cancelling headphones, you are my hero)
- saying no
- saying yes
- spending time with friends
- FaceTime with a baby
- calling a friend
- browsing mental health accounts on instagram
- unfollowing people with racially charged opinions on social media
- sipping peppermint tea
- walking outside
- lighting candles
- cleaning my home
3. I hope you go out of your way this week to check-in with someone you know/love about their eating disorder recovery journey, or just their mental health in general.
Eating disorders and disordered eating are often comorbid with other mental health issues such as low self-esteem, low self-worth, poor body image, mood disorders (depression), anxiety disorders (generalized anxiety, obsessive compulsive, phobias), and trauma. If you’re worried about someone’s well being, whether through observable behaviors or just a deep, gut feeling – I hope you have the courage to say/do something, even if it feels risky or your concern is dismissed. Plant the seed of your worry, anyway.
4. This week, I hope you eat a meal and take your time with it – enjoying every bite, with gratitude and intention, and I hope it tastes really fucking good.
And may societal pressures and eating-disordered thoughts/urges and body image distress be minimal. I hope you put on an outfit, look in the mirror and think to yourself “I AM A BRILLIANT QUEEN AND I DESERVE TO FEEL CONFIDENT, HAPPY, AND WHOLE” and go on about your merry way in a world that likes to send us conflicting messages that make us feel less so. As for me this week, I plan to go for a run, eat a cheeseburger with fries and a judgy amount of ketchup, connect and check-in with friends, wear my favorite leggings, vest, and scarf with no shame, continue to spread awareness, and celebrating my own recovery progress!
A few bonus reminders:
1) Diets are a hoax.
2) It’s unnecessary to comment on other people’s food choices.
3) It can be harmful to comment on someone else’s body and appearance, especially if unsolicited.
4) Many people have nutritional needs and dietary limitations – be accommodating, inclusive, and kind.
5) You are beautiful, worth it all, important to this world, and loved.
National Eating Disorders Association
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
National Alliance on Mental Illness: Minnesota
Crisis Text Line: Text “MN” to 741741