Monday, February 18, 2013

Are you being Observed?

Are you being observed everyday? If you have a partner, children, coworkers, a family, etc., you likely are.

I know when I was in younger, I was an observer of my mother.  I would watch what she ate, how she spoke about her body, and her relationship with exercise. And it was during this time when I became trapped in an eating disorder.

Life with an eating disorder, if you can call it life, is similar to a puppet show. You are the dancing, smiling puppet, and your disorder is the puppeteer. It calls the shots and pulls the strings. It tells you when you’re going to eat and how much. It even writes the script, putting its own values where yours used to be. All of a sudden, you don’t care about your health, your friends or your dreams. All you care about is being thin, and you don’t even really know how it happened, when, or why. So there you go, smiling as your bony body bounces around onstage. Some clap at your slenderness, while most stare in horror at what you’ve become. They don’t know that you go backstage and cry because you’re tired, hungry and scared.

It started out so simple; in highschool with the desire to be thin, and ended up as a powerful, inner, self-loathing endless mental battle. I slowly began to lose not only my weight, but my reality, my mind, my friends as well as anything and everything that I cared and loved. Anorexia had 100% control of me and my life. I was no longer Amy. I was an eating disorder, a lying, destructive, conniving eating disorder. It was an out of body experience, a loss of control so intense that I can’t even imagine behaving that way now. The eating disorder was there for me, protecting me from this uncontrollable world. It was my coping mechanism for handling my emotional distress of feeling unloved and unworthy.  Asking me to just change my eating-disordered thinking would be about as successful as asking someone with a tumour to change their cancer cells back into healthy ones. Whenever I went to eat something, the eating disorder always had something to say, dictating what I was allowed to eat.

But I wanted my life back. I wanted friends, to get married one day, to not be controlled by food and exercise anymore. So with the help of my mom, I was admitted into an Inpatient Eating Disorder Program. At first, recovery felt like making a path through untamed woods. I had to keep going over and over the same original path to forge a trail and shift my thinking.  It has taken years, but slowly I’ve been able to reconnect with myself and push the eating disorder aside. One thing I had to remember throughout this journey was that this eating disorder required so much of my will power and discipline to get into, I knew I had that same power and strength to get myself out. And I can confidently say, for the past 4 years, that I did just that, and recovered.

My experience with an eating disorder led me into passionately coordinating the Provincial Eating Disorder Awareness (PEDAW) campaign, which is launched every February with activities and events taking place throughout the year.  Our ongoing theme is ‘Love Our Bodies, Love Ourselves’ with a new subtheme ‘Perfect is Boring.’ It is a Province wide effort to raise awareness around prevention and early intervention of eating disorders as well as media literacy, resiliency, building healthy body image and self-esteem. Our mission is to provide an eating disorder prevention approach and resiliency based system of services, workshops, education, and support to people of all ages in the Province of B.C.

So if you have an observer at home who you want to be healthy both physically, emotionally, and mentally – first look at yourself.  Are you serving well-rounded meals? Are you speaking only good things about your body and appearance? Are you exercising in a healthy and active manner? All of this starts with you. You are the role model, because there will be a day when the observer will leave and practice everything you have shown them. 

I hope you will take part in supporting PEDAW in encouraging everybody to love our bodies, love ourselves! And remember for this year, that ‘PERFECT IS BORING!’


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