ED — An Abusive Relationship

It seems as though there is a day, week, or month for everything.  “Take Your Dog to Work Day”, “Appreciate your Name Day” (next week, by the way), and “Life Insurance Awareness Month”.  It’s hard to wake up in the morning and remember what I am suppose to be aware of.   It’s not that these issues don’t deserve the time in the spotlight, heck, I’ve taken my dog to work and I appreciate my name every single day.  It’s just that some of the issues that are given a designated day, week, or month are important enough that we should be aware of them the entire year.  One such issue is Eating Disorders.  February 21 – 27 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.  Eating Disorders are among the most dangerous mental illnesses.  In fact, Anorexia, has the highest mortality rate among all psychiatric disorders.  Fortunately I did not become a statistic.

As a marathon runner I ran into the problem of consuming enough calories to support my activity level and began losing weight.  Soon enough the allure of the “runner’s body” and eating “healthy” was too strong and my weight quickly dropped to dangerous number along with my heart rate which was a slow 40 bpm.  It was those two things that became a red flag for my family and my doctors, sending me to the hospital.  My heart was struggling to support my body.  Now, 8 years and 3 treatment attempts later I am finally experience a “normal” relationship with food and exercise.  Still others in treatment with me all those years ago are struggling against ED.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have the support system in place that I have which lead to my recovery.   Navigating a world with perfect photo shopped images, diet fads, and fitness fanatics is tough.  Throw in depression, trauma, a compulsive personality and an eating disorder is waiting to happen to anyone.  It is important as educators to be aware of this dangerous illness every day of the year.  The books listed below include fiction and nonfiction and must come with a disclaimer.  Sometimes for a person already struggling with ED stories such as these may serve as a perverse type of negative motivation, even in cases where the character recovers.  I believe the real benefit of these stories, real or not real,  is to help family members and friends understand the thought processes of their loved one dealing with ED.   Although ultimately it is the individual’s choice to get better, a strong support system is huge factor in recovery and that system may be made up of family, friends, teachers, coaches, etc… So be aware this week and every week.

A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger
What Happens Next? by Colleen Clayton
Perfect by Natasha Friend
Letting Ana Go by Anonymous
Paperweight by Meg Haston
Skinny Boy: A Young Man’s Battle and Triumph Over Anorexia by Gary Grahl
Butter by Erin Jade Lange
Purge by Sarah Littman
Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield
Hope and Other Luxuries: A Mother’s Life With a Daughter’s Anorexia by Clare B. Dunkle
Elena Vanishing by Elena Dunkle
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

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