This week was eating disorder awareness week! It makes me so happy, because it unites so many people in the eating disorder community to use our voices together to bring light to the evils of EDtheVoice. Eating Disorder are the #1 most fatal mental illness. This past Thursday I got to witness state Senator Joel Lourie officially acknowledge this week as Eating Disorder Awareness Week in South Carolina. This was thanks to the hard work of SCEDA, South Carolina Eating Disorder Association and in particularly, Mrs. Karen McMullen.
This is just a start to the work that needs to be done in order to save the women and men that are and will be affected by this fatal disorder. How could THIS be the #1 killer of all mental illnesses? I think it is because, you can’t tell from someone’s appearance if they have an eating disorder. I also think because our westernized culture has normalized being on a diet, we are encouraged to eat only “clean foods” and told carbs are bad. Although, it also could be that when a woman is sad, and has lost a few pounds, and goes to her primary care doctor reporting these symptoms and then is handed an anti-depressant because “you don’t look like you have an eating disorder.” Being unnoticed further strengthens the ED voice and the bad body image. Lastly, I also think it’s because even when someone is lucky enough to have a professional identify an eating disorder, many times the patient will minimize the symptoms and the families have bought in to the “she’s just being healthy” hype (because she act’s & looks fine) and the person suffering is so wrapped into their disorder they confuse it with themselves and it continues relentlessly eating away at the persons soul. This is when a person’s body can give out on them, and have a heart attack (even being in a semi-normal weight range) or they are so tired of the hell they are living in they take their own life, an all to common occurrence amongst eating disorder patients. Some times I am scared to work with this population… because I fear the day I will loose a client, with a 20% mortality rate it will likely happen. However, I will not let that stop me from doing everything I can to help a fellow survivor… because I have walked those roads of hell, and know with hard work and help it is possible to love your life and body again.
So what can you do to help? You can take 1 minute to go to Eating Disorder Coalition and send an email to your legislator to support the Anna Westin Act.
The main components of this bill cover three key areas: 1. Training – using existing NIMH & SAMHSA funds to train health and school professionals to intervene early; 2. Clarity of the Mental Healthy Parity Act – make insurance companies cover residential treatment; 3. Truth in Advertising – make the Federal Trade Commission study and report whether regulation is needed for digitally altered images in advertising. You can also tweet, pin, & share my post so that we can end this deadly disease! Here is the Anna Westin Act 2015 in its entirety.