Carrying the Message
Today I’d like to direct this blog to a specific subset of our readership: those of you still suffering from eating disorders. There are people here at Ocean Recovery who have been through what you’re struggling with and we remember it well. We remember what it was like to hide our struggles from our loved ones and suffer in silence due to shame, fear, and ignorance about our disease. And it was this disease that wanted us to sit in the dark in order to further its own progression. With these memories in mind, here are a few facts about eating disorders that we would like to share with those of you currently in the midst of the struggle.
You Are Not Alone
There are currently about 330 million people living in the United States. One in eleven will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives. That’s 30 million people who are suffering just like you. I know it feels like you’re all alone in the dark. Like I said above, that’s the disease protecting itself by keeping you sick and isolated. But the truth is that there are millions of people who have or who still are struggling the same way you are. And there are millions who have learned how to recover.
Eating Disorders Are an Illness, Not a Choice
Eating disorders are a biological condition centered in the brain. Full stop. They are the result of genetic factors, life experiences ranging from upbringing to trauma and beyond, and chemical responses to specific behaviors. What they are not is a conscious choice. Think about the suffering that those of us with eating disorders go through. Additionally, think about the fact that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental health conditions. Who would rationally choose to put themselves through that?
Men Also Suffer from Eating Disorders
As we mentioned in a blog on eating disorders in men’s sports last month, women aren’t the only ones who suffer from these afflictions. In fact, 1 out of 3 who suffer from an eating disorder is male. However, because this fact isn’t nearly as well known, many men don’t even realize they have it. Furthermore, the lack of treatment options available to men means that many of these individuals won’t get the medical attention that they need. Fortunately, this is beginning to change.
People Are Starting to Speak Up
While Instagram and other social media platforms have been blamed for promoting unrealistic standards of beauty and body image, there is, fortunately, another side of this coin. Consider the body positivity movement and the success that they’ve had on these platforms. While the group, like all social movements, has had its share of naysayers and hair-splitters lately, it cannot be denied that it has opened the door for conversations about body image. And that includes opening up about eating disorders. Kesha, Demi Lovato, and Zayn Malik are just a few of the celebrities in recent years that have gone public with their stories and struggles.
Eating Disorders Can Be Treated
While the fact that celebrities and influencers are opening up about eating disorders and sharing their stories of recovery is wonderful, it points to something even better: that eating disorders are treatable. It is definitely not easy and it takes time and support, but there are people who have gone through it and who are here to help when you’re ready. If you or someone you love is suffering from an eating disorder, start taking steps to end the silence. Ocean Recovery is ready to help you take those steps into the light towards a new way of living.