As individuals and as a society, we have choices. We can continue to pretend that eating disorders aren’t real or at least not “as real” as other life-threatening illnesses that rightfully command so much of our individual, societal and charitable attention, despite overwhelming medical and scientific evidence to the contrary and the alarming mortality rates associated with them. We also can convince ourselves that eating disorders are not “our problem” – at least until, God forbid, one affects someone we love or the loved one of someone we love – or, if it makes us feel better, that, as one person, we are powerless to make a meaningful difference in this heart-breaking epidemic.
The truth is, however, there is much we can do. We can educate ourselves to better understand these insidious and powerful diseases, so that we can speak intelligently on the subject and, if the occasion presents itself, educate others. With our vote and our voices we can support legislative initiatives that, directly or indirectly, benefit those suffering from eating disorders, by, among other things, affording them the full extent of insurance coverage(s) offered to those afflicted with more “traditional” physical ailments. Where possible, we can provide financial assistance to organizations and foundations dedicated to eating disorder awareness, research and support.
As for me, between my book, this blog, my presentation at NEDA’s Annual Conference, this afternoon’s talk at the Houston Eating Disorder Specialists Conference and, above all else, my undying love for my daughter, I’ve decided that “silence” is not the right course, nor is turning a blind eye. Instead, no matter how far from my comfort zone (read: “the path of least resistance”) my own personal “Journey of Hope” takes me, I am committed to trying to make a difference in the hope that someday one fewer tear will be shed by a beautiful young woman temporarily unable to see the truth about herself: that she is loved, that she is infinitely lovable for who she is and that she is worthy of love. I’m all in.