NEDA Awareness Week 2021

Photographs of myself.  Photographs of my mind. Photographs of an affliction that’s impossible to capture. It’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. It’s one of the weeks I’m most proud to celebrate. And it’s also a week I wish I knew nothing about. But turning a blind eye is what prolonged my struggle, and it only perpetuates the stigmas surrounding eating disorders. 
Opioid addiction aside, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders. I almost became a part of this statistic, though I never believed it could happen to me. I was diagnosed with anorexia at 13. It had nothing to do with food or weight. But the more weight I lost, and the more I engaged in disordered behaviors —the more my anxious mind quieted.
My struggle peaked when I was a freshman in college. My weight fell to that of an 8-year-old. I was dying. But my eating disorder convinced me I still wasn’t sick. After a long hospitalization, I defied the odds and miraculously survived. But my journey was far from over.
My battle with anorexia morphed into binge eating disorder. Only 18 months after I almost lost my life to anorexia, I was clinically obese. Although my eating disorder “looked” different, nothing else had changed. It was still the same underlying issues driving my maladaptive ways to cope. A vicious fight with bulimia unfolded next. My quest to recover always seemed to fall short. But I never gave up.
My rock bottom was not physical, but rather mental. I reached a point where I realized I wanted a better life for myself. I worked diligently with a therapist and dietician, and I learned healthy ways to cope with problems. My eating disorder was always a symptom of deeper issues —not the other way around. And as my mind healed, so did everything else in my life.
Eating disorders are complex, multifaceted illnesses. My biggest regret is that I didn’t reach out or accept support sooner. Full recovery from an eating disorder is possible. There were many times I was told I was a hopeless case and would never recover. I questioned if this were true —“maybe they’re right and I can’t recover.” But I did … and so can you. ~Britt?
#EatingDisorderAwareness
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