“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you will help them become what they are capable of becoming."
-- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
The past few weeks of my life have definitely been, well, interesting.
Substantial happenings have taken place over the course of three weeks in both my personal and professional lives. The administration of aid for development of expert summits, relocation complexity, financial qualms and the reappearance of disordered thoughts have truly pressed my coping mechanisms to the breaking point.
In one of my previous entries, I noted how nagging thoughts about my body, fitness level, self-worth and food are, I think, merely ‘surface-level’ concerns. I explained that these ‘symptoms’ only show themselves when various life experiences (events, trauma, lapses, behaviors, etc) are not dealt with in a healthy manner.
It is true; looking back I now realize how I have permitted the ‘little’ things really tiptoe their way into my life again. I had been isolating myself, exercising for reasons other than enjoyment, gauging my meals around whether I had ‘earned’ the right to enjoy them. No, I am not ‘rid’ of my disordered thinking, no; I am not in a full-blown decline in terms of my disorder and I do not physically show any signs of my fight. As I’ve stated before, the physicality is not a true measure of what is going on within.
Here’s the fact: I’ve had a lapse, realized I’ve strayed from my course, accepted help and secured my recovery.
To be completely honest, this was the hardest phase since my return home ten months ago. I really had to draw from my faith to hold fast and not surrender. Indisputably, I’ve always believed things happen for a reason; and I, without doubt, believe the Lord is working behind the scenes to help sustain my drive for life. The mechanism in which He may have placed certain individuals into my life to encourage my recovery is somewhat, I think, comical.
I had the pleasure (annoyance, rather) of encountering two individuals that really ‘triggered’ my ‘urge’ to get back on track and educate persons with similar ways of thinking. One was a medical professional and the other was a common individual who both had, I think, restricted views on eating disorders all together. Statements comparable to “guys are not as vulnerable or as anxious as females,” “millions of individuals starve every day, why can’t you just shove a sandwich down your throat” and “everyone has their sad story, what makes you so special?” strike loud and clear and jerk at every emotion I have in my body.
My initial reaction to these statements (and others) was unchanging rage. It quickly transferred to hurt, guilt and anger over and over again. However, I remembered how multifaceted eating disorders are to someone who doesn’t struggle and how unfathomable the thought processes and/or behaviors can seem. We have dealt (and still deal) with people that will just ‘never get it.’ They try their best (sometimes) to support, but to the sufferer their effort or lack thereof, often seems vain.
After this realization (once again), I came to the conclusion that I cannot be frustrated in these situations (even with physicians). Instead, I need to use that anger, mold it into motivation and attempt to instruct and inform without indecision. Yes, people may place the sufferer of an eating disorder into an unfair cluster, assuming you are weak, a loser, isolated, weird, effeminate and selfish. Little do they know, or try to comprehend that all people suffer from this illness. Yes, even the ‘strong,’ ‘masculine,’ ‘beautiful,’ ‘normal’ and ‘hot’ struggle. Equally, mothers, sons, uncles, cousins, grandparents, friends, athletes and musicians have all fallen victim to eating/exercise disorders. Simply put, we must recognize the world’s lack of understanding and false, and often, hurtful, suppositions about this disorder.
It is not going to be the ‘higher ups’ (doctors, psychologists, therapists, school boards, administrations, congress, etc) that will be able to ‘fix’ the problem with the system (society) alone. We as survivors, advocates, educators, family members and friends have got be the ones to bring about revisions to our cultures views we are so desperately in search of.