Eating Disorder Awareness Week
As it comes to the end of Eating Disorder Awareness week I have found myself in an internal dilemma.
Do I share or do I keep quiet?
A battle that has spanned nearly half my life and cut short many friends lives I choose today to speak up about an illness that thrives in silence, secrecy and shame.
Eating Disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness, affecting 1 in 20 Australians.
This number ever increasing.
Today it was reported by The Butterfly Foundation that were 945,000 Australians diagnosed with an eating disorder and an estimated 1941 lives were lost to these illnesses in 2014.
Eating Disorders can effect anyone.
It knows no age, gender, cultural or socioeconomic barrier.
They are not a lifestyle choice, a diet gone wrong, or a vain attempt to control weight or meet some standard of ‘perfection’.
Eating disorders are a serious mental illness that require adequate treatment, commitment and long term support.
In 2012 I made a desperate leap to save my life from the grips of Anorexia Nervosa. As I left the shores of Australia and hopped on a plane to the USA to enter the most intensive residential treatment, I had no idea of what would come of my life. Uncertainty was at an all time high. The only thing I knew deep within, was that it was a chance I had to take.
Our darkest moments can be our greatest miracles.
Recovering from an eating disorder is one of the hardest journeys. It is not just the recovery of the ‘physical body’ but of the mind and spirit. As I learnt to let go and to surrender to my higher power, to hand over the ‘perceived control’ bit by bit through the darkness, the light began to burn brighter and brighter.
It is here that I learnt I could compassionately hold both suffering and joy.
To witness both beauty and heartache.To choose love over fear. Surrender over control. To re-learn how to express my true authentic self in this great big world and allow all parts of who I am to be heard, seen and felt.
In the depths of Anorexia the weight of shame silenced me as my body became smaller and smaller. My body became the messenger instead for words that could not be spoken. For feelings that could not be expressed and for circumstances that felt beyond my control.
Today I continue to release my body from that job and use my voice instead. My body gets to be just that. A body. My earth suit for whatever purpose I have been put here on earth for. It is in choosing to live a wholehearted life that I tenderly meet suffering with compassion, darkness with light, control with surrender, fear with love and uncertainty with gratitude. For we don’t know what this one precious life of ours will entail but as I work to allow my soul to be fully expressed in all that I say and do, to allow my needs to be met, my voice to be heard and my feelings to be felt, that I gratefully continue on this recovery path.
Your past does not define who you are nor what your future holds. At any moment you can change the very course of your life. You may have to make the hardest of decisions to save yourself, to speak up and let go of what you may have known to be your ‘life’ but what matters most is that you be true to who you are and to that all knowing voice of wisdom within.
You can start again.
You can build a new life for yourself.
You don’t have to suffer in silence.
May the candle of hope continue to burn brightly shining light for all those who suffer, their loved ones and the beautiful souls that have sadly lost the fight.
If these words can save one person, bring about awareness and education or be the permission slip that someone is waiting for to speak up about their own battle, than I know in my heart that this is the reason why I continue to speak up.
Today I am grateful.
For my ever loving family and my beautiful circle of close friends.
For my ‘support network’ both here in Australia and in the USA.
For all those that have touched my life and crossed my path at different moments of this journey.
And for the deep desire within to choose life in every moment, no matter what.
With love and gratitude always.