Yesterday I was reading a post by someone in the eating disorders field that I found quite upsetting. She was saying that some of her clients had been led to believe that recovery is all about weight, and that once your weight is OK (whatever than means) that you’re OK too. The person posting it was annoyed (understandably), but it’s important to acknowledge that we still have an imperfect system, & that anyone who is actually an ED specialist would never say this. We understand that it’s about so much more than weight – that healing your body and mind takes time and persistence. Yes, it bothers me that there might be health professionals out there who are STILL not understanding the intense complexity of eating disorders, who are still reducing it to a white, vain, private school girls illness. But this is NOT the majority. The people we should be more concerned about are the unqualified people giving “health” advice that is….erm….less than healthy….
Please know that good help IS available and, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, you don’t always have to move to a major city to have good support. If you think you possibly have an eating disorder (remember, it’s NOT about your body shape!) I’ll give you a tip, you’re clearly a smart cookie and you mostly probably do. Please reach out ASAP – the sooner the better. I’ll say it again, eating disorders are NOT about the body you actually have and if you need to address a low weight as part of recovery, it will just be the first step of many as your body and mind heal and strengthen. A particular weight does not a recovery make.
You can help us, yourself and others with an eating disorder too (if you have the energy!) by communicating with any of your health team about what’s going on for you. Yes, I’ve done lots of training but I promise you, the most valuable learning I’ve had are from my incredible clients. It’s not about us, I get that, but you can get better therapy and treatment by helping health professionals understand your experience.
It’s important to remember:
– People of ALL different shapes, sizes, genders, backgrounds, biological histories, genetic tendencies, cultures can have eating disorders
– You very often CANNOT tell how unwell someone is just by looking at them.
– You most definitely CAN recovery from an eating disorder; it can take time and sometimes a number of cracks at it. This is often the case so please don’t give up if your first attempt doesn’t lead to lasting recovery.
– Good support from suitably qualified professionals is absolutely essential
– CHECK THE QUALIFICATIONS OF YOUR HEALTH TEAM – and if in doubt ASK. There are such a variation in the names people use for their qualification which is not immediately obvious and can vary enormously. For example, Sarah is one of Australia’s most experienced psychotherapists and counsellors but the qualifications of therapists and mental health workers can vary considerably. Your therapist should be a member of a professional association and have insurance.
– ALL of your health team should be experienced specifically in Eating Disorders and will be willing to answer any questions you have. We also have a list of Dietitians on our website who are experienced in eating disorders, Non Diet Approach or BOTH!
– If anyone in your team EVER assists your restriction or your deliberate attempts at weight loss (no matter your weight, even if you live in a larger body), please run very quickly in the opposite direction.
– There are plenty of people in the “health” and fitness industry who are very unhelpful, and provide advice, services and programs that can perpetuate disordered eating. We are so tired of hearing about clean eating and bikini bodies: please don’t pretend that you’re about health (you’re not, you’re about appearance and selling your shit) and stop hurting people.
Did I mention that Eating Disorders are NOT about your weight or body size? Oh OK, I’ll just say it again 🙂 And wellness or recovery is not about weight or body size. Everyone (yes, YOU TOO) deserves to live in peace with food, eating and their body. We can all play our part in receiving, and giving support to others who are recovering by remembering that we’re all human and no one is perfect.
There are incredible and wonderful treatment services available here in Australia – please contact The Butterfly Foundation if you are concerned about someone, or need some help or support yourself. Recovery is possible.