If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, you may be able to relate to constantly feeling numb. Personally, making decisions and identifying my feelings became so difficult in my state of neutrality that I wasn’t really living, I was merely coasting. While this blog post may not reign true for all individuals suffering from an eating disorder, this is my story on how I am recovering from anorexia. It took time, but learning to accept love is what wrenched me out of the depths of my eating disorder and back onto stable ground.
James S. Bell Junior Middle School in Toronto has banned “junk food” from lunches. Students who bring items such as candy or even granola bars will be asked to take the items back home. The reasoning behind this decision is that the school styles itself as a “sports and wellness academy”. They further reinforce these values by sending kids back to the cafeteria line if they do not have enough vegetables on their plate. Although the general population may perceive these initiatives as positive and healthy – they do not sit well with me.
I was going to college for health and fitness in Toronto when my behaviours became extreme. As my weight and health quickly plummeted no one asked me what was going on. Even at my physically worst I was only ever asked about drug use by doctors, but never a question about food or exercise. Hidden in plain sight, I was a man with an eating disorder.
When you’re younger, you’re told you should follow your dreams. I always took that to heart and believe that if I had the power to do anything, than why not spend my time doing something that I love? Part of following your dreams means taking risks, and when I was a kid I was teased and I had practically zero self-confidence. Additionally, I was also slightly overweight at the time, which caused me to analyze and pick apart everything about how I looked. So even when opportunities came my way, I was too self conscious to even think about going for it.
I have always been a small guy. Genetically, I will never be bulky or muscular… it’s just not in the cards for me. Throughout my school years, I was always referred to as “that really skinny guy” or “skeleton.” Some people even questioned if my parents were not feeding me enough. Even today, when I am twenty four years old and at university, one of the first things people notice about me is how thin I am. I’m certainly not the skinniest guy out there, but in an age where guys are expected to be big and muscular, I am an outsider.
The NEDIC team has been deeply affected by the comments in both criticism and support of our most recent awareness campaign ad. We recognize that the ad has stirred deep feelings and strong reactions from many of you.
In objection to the ad, some have said:
“Chocolate!!” exclaims my 6 year old nephew Jesse as my sister and I are discussing the preferred flavour of cake for our annual Turkey Tea party. “I want chocolate turkey cake with brown icing!” Ok. Ever since he was a baby we have been having tea parties for special occasions and holidays, keeping celebrations short to match his uh, time-challenged, attention span. Thanksgiving always includes a cake decorated as a turkey from the local grocery store.
We preach patience. We preach life. We preach recovery. As someone who has recovered from an eating disorder, a lot of the work I do is in helping others to get better. Clients touch base with me, expressing their stresses, concerns, and feelings over their bodies, and improving their life. I respond to questions by sharing my experience but the most common question I am asked, the one that I cannot always answer simply is “What is recovery?” While in the midst of a struggle, through all of the hard work, people want to know what recovery means. “What does it feel like?
Last week, I was surprised to come across two articles discussing whether Toronto schools will soon be weighing students, determining whether they are within a ‘healthy’ weight range – and sending the results to parents. When asked what they thought about this, the majority of parents surveyed in a Toronto Star poll reported that they would not allow their children to participate in BMI testing if it was brought to their school. Why? Could it be that parents understand that BMI is not a good measure of health and wellbeing? That measuring BMI in schools continues a flawed panic – using a flawed measuring tool – about size rather than health?
Your body gets you around. Your legs keep you walking – even running when necessary. Your heart pumps blood night and day to keep you alive. Your liver metabolizes substances and excretes toxic chemicals through your kidneys. Your lungs supply the much-needed oxygen. Your arms lift, and your hands write or type. Your eyes see the beautiful things around you, and your ears hear the glorious sounds of nature. Your lips allow you to communicate, and your nose allows you to smell. Your stomach digests the food that you eat. Your reproductive organs allow you to create life.