When you flip through the fashion magazines, you won’t find my body anywhere. When you watch TV, you might see me as a background character, meant to offer inspiration to the show’s main hero. I am the woman with a visible physical disability. You probably see my wheelchair, my cane, and my guide dog. Or you may notice my scars, my speech impediment, and my caregivers…yet, in many ways, I am invisible.
Does anyone else remember learning the “golden rule” in elementary school? It was in my second grade classroom written in yellow cursive, on royal purple card stock. “Do onto others as you would have others do onto you”. Yes, this is an extremely valuable lesson to teach young kids because the human nature of adolescents is more concerned in doing things that benefit themselves over classmates, siblings and parents.
We are featuring two posts, from two authors, Liz and Marina, as part of this Holiday Season Feature.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of those that have contributed to the NEDIC Blog in 2013. Your stories, combined with your unique perspectives, have made for informative and engaging reads over the last year. This will be our final post of 2013, but we will be back in January 2014 to keep these important conversations going.
How has NEDIC helped you?
We want to hear your story.
Whether you have struggled with an eating disorder, body image issues, or a food or weight preoccupation, or you know someone who has, your story is important to us. Have you phoned the NEDIC helpline? Accessed online resources through our website? Attended a NEDIC educational workshop? Gained a new perspective through reading our blog? Let us know how NEDIC has supported you, helped you, or provided you with the information you needed.
People are usually their own worst critic. This is because we live in a culture that breeds constant competition by encouraging people from a young age to be “the best.” This often leads to our self-worth being determined by how we rank in social comparisons. We compare everything from education, grades, jobs, incomes, partners, houses, families, clothing, popularity levels, to appearances.
When I was in the 10th grade, like most students, I started thinking about what I was going to do after high school. However, unlike many high school students, I was concerned about who was going to help me get ready every morning once I moved out of my parents’ home. I have muscular dystrophy, a progressive muscle wasting disease that impacts the muscles in both my legs and arms. I had been just two years shy of using a wheelchair at that point. Going from standing to sitting all day, I had gained some weight. And weight gain for a disabled woman, I learned, was not an option.
When she told us of her newfound wheat allergy we accepted it for what is was and began on the road to helping her adjust her life and be wheat free. This was our first mistake.
Talking to a friend recently about what it means to have an interior life, I realized how seldom this phrase is heard nowadays or used outside of clinical circles. Yet, having a rich “interior life” may be key to finding meaning and happiness in our existence and undoubtedly promotes emotional health and “normal” eating.
All survivors have their war stories and I am no exception. In my case, the battlefield was my body and the enemy was the bully in my head, the mean girl who told me I was fat. Today she is known as #Mia – Twitterspeak for bulimia.
My eating disorder wasn’t a phase. It was a disease born in the corners of my mind that caused me to cycle through endless episodes of bingeing, purging and starvation. I could talk to no one about Mia, because the injurious words that she could wield were still better than the label I would be assigned if anyone knew my secret.
I’ve struggled with accepting my body the way it is now, and at times I still do. It can be hard for someone with an eating disorder to see and feel their body changing. This is made worse when I feel full after eating, if I wear clothes that feel a little too tight, or if I am having a bad day and look in the mirror.