We were in awe watching the response to Eating Disorders Awareness Week this year. So many safe spaces were carved out to facilitate important discussions, and in the process, highlighted key themes around treatment and recovery that we endeavour to explore further as part of our outreach work at Orri.
We are so grateful for all who joined us at the beginning of March. Here are some key reflections…
1) Coming together, to share in hopes, dreams and difficulties, has a healing power of its own
2) No matter who you are and what you’ve been through, your journey deserve recognition and validation. At times we need others to acknowledge that our lived experience isn’t okay…that we do deserve support and that our experience is valid. It is both a blessing and a curse that we are such a resilient species…sometimes all we need to hear is “something’s not quite right and you deserve help”
3) Never underestimate the power of hope. To quote one of our webinar attendees last week, “I DO feel an ember of hope, now to make it a flame.” Nurture the ember…find people/experiences/places which stoke it to a flame
4) Remember, hope comes in all shapes and forms. It can be fleeting or here to stay, and sometimes the experience of being hopeful is so ‘alien’ that we might reject it altogether. Nonetheless, we should honour it when we feel it…carve out a familiar spot for hope within us so that the next time we feel it, it’s welcome. Hope should be allowed to set up shop!
5) You – yes you, reading this – have so much within you. You are not your eating disorder – this illness doesn’t define you (or doesn’t have to), there is a reason why it’s here and a reason why it might be lingering. Treatment is about exploring all of this – with kindness and gentle curiosity. What we saw last week was an immense compassion within the community for one another. It was moving to be a part of it. Sometimes we just need to be given the space to create connections and have meaningful conversations. At Orri, we want to create more of these spaces…
6) Eating disorders are complex. When living with an eating disorder we can feel totally at the mercy of our preoccupation with food. Last week, so many of you shared in this torment – asking questions about how to overcome a compulsion to binge or restrict…how to stop thinking about food or support your loved one through this illness. There are so many layers to an eating disorder and to recovery. Each and every layer needs its own gentle compassion and understanding. There’s no “one way” to recover – but honouring the complexity of recovery paves the way to honouring our own complexity as a human being. In recovery, we often ask big questions about who we are and what we want from life. This is hard work, but you are not alone. There are people who understand, and every part of you deserves to have a place in this world
7) Too many people continue to suffer in silence – and at no fault of their own. BME communities continue to be the victim of colourism, preventing them from getting the help they need to overcome this illness. Dr Charlynn Small and Dr Mazella Fuller, co-editors of the book, Treating Black Women with Eating Disorders, told us at Thursday’s webinar that Black children are more than twice as likely as White children to be sexually abused, and research shows an association between early childhood sexual abuse and eating disorders. Society and specifically healthcare providers must be better equip to ask difficult questions (particularly at assessment) to ensure that people get the support that they need:
“A colorblind approach merely relieves the therapist of his or her obligation to address racial differences and difficulties.” – Monica Williams, PhD
“By taking a colorblind approach, you end up rendering invisible, and not meaningful what actually is very important.” – Gayle Brooks, PhD, CEDS-S
There are so many more things we want to say about last week, but the biggest and final thing to add is – thank you. Thank you to everyone who raised awareness with us.
We are incredibly grateful to have connected with each and every one of you.
Eating disorders don’t just exist during Eating Disorders Awareness Week, as such, keep your eyes peeled on our Workshops page for more webinars and events coming up.
We invite you to share what you have learnt from this year’s EDAW. Email or DM (direct message) us with your messages of hope for the amazing eating disorder recovery community.