Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Our friend Ed.

My long-anticipated, much thought-of series taking an in-depth look at eating disorders for the newspaper is finally taking off!

I came in contact with a young woman at a local college who is holding an event to raise awareness of eating disorders to her classmates. Sounds simple, right? Psh, heck no!

Eating disorders are the DEADLIEST mental illness!
They're not talked about! There's a stigma! They're controversial! They're ugly!

I know because I spent seven years of my life suffering from anorexia and bulimia. And I've spent the last three years "in recovery," which basically means I've thought about it daily, but not hourly like I used to; that I take forever to eat a meal but will undoubtedly eat all, or at least most of that meal. And a thousand other things I'm sure I'll carry around with me until they bury me and write "E.D. survivor" on my gravestone.

I wrote a personal testimonial in March that was in the Life section of our newspaper. I received SO many e-mails, calls, voicemails and even letters and cards from people who said they could relate or who knew someone who had anorexia or bulimia or someone who they thought might and maybe they would make that phone call to the hotline... it really made me aware that this problem is so much bigger than I even thought it was and that there are people out there who still need answers.

So I volunteered to do a series on the topic. My managing editor and supervisors were all so excited. It needs done, they told me. You're going to make a difference.

And I believed them and wrote out a layout and outline and a list of who to call.

And then I froze.
I panicked.
I *almost sort of kind of* relapsed.
I tried again.
Try again.

And then I came across this young woman who needed me as much as I needed her. She's in recovery herself and she's so FREAKIN' brave that she's willing to share her personal story with me. And thousands of readers who are complete (judgmental) strangers.

I'm still working out details, but I've had great success with calls and remaining in a safe recovery so far these past couple of weeks.

It will probably be a three or four-part series, looking at things like: a general overview of diseases and terms, when to help someone, who is most at risk, treatment options and then happy thoughts like what is being done positively to change the social impact on weight and body image as well as the stigma attached to eating disorders.

I'm contacting places like the local universities and high schools, hospitals and psychologists, the local ballet, perhaps some athletic directors and of course my very brave college woman.

So now I beg of you, some help please.
If you were reading a multi-part series on eating disorders (and first of all, have you seen anything like this lately? Is there such a thing as overkill?) what would you want to read? What topics interest you?

Have you experienced a loved one who had an eating disorder? If so, I hope your family member or friend is doing well and is healthy or is at least seeking treatment.

And I admire you, because coming from first-hand experience, you really try to hurt the ones you love. Because those are the people who might find out your very dirty secret. Who might make this whole nasty addiction end. We love you though. Thank you for loving us.

Remember, there's help out there.

1 comment:

  1. I think I would want it to be very relevant to today ... I know I've seen a lot in female-targeted magazines about ED, so what's new?
    As for your subject (and it's great you have a source to work with for this), in the great series' I've read, there's a lot of personal detail and color, following the subject through experiences or days ... maybe for someone with an ED it's a good day and a bad day. Or even one meal, and what that's like.

    My 2 cents. :)