Next week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2015, yes another one, and once again I find myself wondering how I feel about it. Luckily I will be on holiday in Center Parcs with my boyfriend and family so I'll be away from all of the very unnecessary before and after pictures that make me want to shout and scream so much, yes we all know what the conventional anorexic looks like, lets not (excuse the pun) feed into that stereotype anymore please.
Every year I have participated and even used it as an oppurtunity to take a step forward in my own recovery, in fact it helped me say the words 'I have an Eating Disorder' out loud for the first time after my first hospital admission.
Last year it wasn't so much a step forward for myself but more of trying to raise awareness that recovery was possible, that there was hope for those that are in the depth of the darkness, that there was a way out of the torment, and even though I am not there yet I still believe this.
This year the most important thing that has happened in terms of my recovery is people calling me out on my slips, people caring enough to talk to me when they see my strength falter. These conversations can be so crucial to someone at any stage of their Eating Disorder. I cannot stress enough how much good it can do if done in a sensitive manner.
Essentially starting off a conversation with someone can be nerve racking, and depending on where they are on their journey you could get a number of responses, but I promise you that having that scary conversation can potentially make such a big difference.
When I was first ill I hated the people that would try to talk to me, I would put up a barrier and become defensive, but I would always go away and think about it, and a small part of me would know that they were right, and I now have so much admiration for the people that approached me.
Later on down the line the people that spoke to me would just be met with confusion, denial and ambivalence, I would feel so touched that they cared but not quite understand why they were being so dramatic, but knowing someone was worried and cared that much really helped me start to doubt that maybe my Eating Disorder was dangerous, maybe I did really need to make changes, maybe I was about to lose everything.
Either way having that conversation got the real part of me thinking, and any anger that came out was from my Eating Disorder, it was being challenged and confronted, it had been seen and it was becoming difficult to get away with. The Eating Disorder part of me was scared, which made me scared.
Now the conversations that I have, as heart breaking as they are, pull me out of any form of denial that I've been in, they open my eyes to the slips that I have allowed because, well, as long as I'm not as bad as I used to be right? Wrong. A million times wrong, but I could of gone on letting these slips happen day after day had I not been called out on them, and for that I will always be grateful.
So if you know someone that needs a conversation, be brave enough to have it. Sensitively confront the Eating Disorder and let it know that it's not getting away unseen.
The MIND slogan is 'It's time to talk' and it is.
That conversation could make a world of difference, I know all of mine did.