Monday, October 6, 2014

What Can I Do to Help Them?

It has been a while since I have written but tonight I made it a point to turn off the TV and distractions and sit down snuggled with my blanket and pumpkin spice candle and write about a topic that has been heavy on my heart for some time now. 

So many of us have been there...that day when you realize someone close to you is sick with an eating disorder. Maybe you've noticed drastic weight loss or a change in personality, maybe they've become withdrawn and depressed or maybe you notice they avoid food at all costs. No matter what the situation, we're left with the burning question of, "What Can I Do to Help Them?" This is a question I have gotten a lot from many of my friends and when asked this question once again last month, I came to the realization that no matter how I tried to craft a response, the truth is, I'm not really sure what to tell them. You see, when I accepted the fact that I had an eating disorder, I went to my family therapist and family members and actively sought out help and therefore, I wasn't really sure how to respond to the burning question mentioned above. So, in search of answers, I reached out to my faithful doctor and asked for some wisdom. I want to share his response with you because I know it helped me to  grasp a better understanding of what I can do to help my friends who are hurting. 


1.)  Do not approach someone with an eating disorder with anger.  When you approach him/her with anger, the person immediately closes down and feels like you're rejecting them and/or putting them down. The eating disorder does enough of this, they need encouragement most of all. 

2.) Approach the person with the goal not to change him/her—but instead, let him/her know that you care about them, and that you have noticed a change in them. Be very concrete on what you've noticed (ie: getting thinner, not going out with friends to eat, excessive exercise,etc.). Do not approach them with the phrase, “I think you have an eating disorder”. Making such assumptions will only cause one to become defensive- especially because at this point, he/she will do whatever it takes to defend their eating disorder behaviors, even if they won't admit that they are sick. 

3.) Expect an angry response.  This is where unconditional love comes into play. The individual's angry response is due to the distortion that the eating disorder has created in his/her brain. The eating disorder causes the individual to respond defensively and to push you away in an effort to continue to control his/her thinking and actions.  The best thing you can do is show that their response does not make you care any less about him/her. Your persistence means the world to them deep down. 

4.) Do 90% more listening than talking.  A lot of times, someone wants a listening ear and compassion more than anything. Your actions should be non-judgmental, warm, empathetic, loving, caring, and accepting-like Jesus :)Don't give up, you're making a difference just by showing that you care. 

I have been in a place before when my eating disorder consumed me and controlled my every thought and action, and in the midst of that hell, it was the people around me that never gave up on me, and never stopped loving me that pushed me more passionately toward recovery. 

Please don't give up. 

Love, 
Bre 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Great National Eating Disorder Awareness Week Post

I wanted to share this article with you that I read from the Huffington Post today. I hope it encourages and inspires you! xoxo
 
 
"I Had No Idea" is the theme of the 27th annual National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which is Feb. 23 -- March 1. Ask anyone. Most people suffering from eating disorders are young, wealthy, Caucasian women. And you can't be too rich or too thin, right? Wrong.
We expect to see eating disorders diagnosed among young girls and raging rampant in Hollywood and the advertising and fashion industries. As 2008's reigning Miss America, I am the stereotype. I did battle anorexia and, today, am thankful to be fully recovered.
But America is a melting pot like no other country and New York City, where I live, like no other city. And the truth is that eating disorders look much like our population, affecting every socio-economic demographic -- young/old, female/male, wealthy/poor, heterosexual/gay, Christian/Jewish, African-American, Hispanic, Asian and, yes, Caucasian. The rate of occurrence is also particularly high among college students, athletes and gay men. There may be challenges that are unique to each demographic -- men and African-American women are less inclined to seek help, for example -- but bottom line is that an eating disorder is a life-threatening illness no matter who you are.
Nationally, more than 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Four out of 10 Americans have either suffered or have known someone who has suffered from an eating disorder. [1]
I had no idea... that you can be too thin... that over-exercising can lead to an eating disorder... that 35 percent of "normal" dieters progress to pathological dieting and that, of those, 20-25 percent progress to full-blown eating disorders [2]... that an eating disorder can kill you or lead to permanent physical damage... that (I, my daughter, son, sister, brother, friend) had a problem.
Eating disorders happen behind closed doors. Signs are frequently overlooked (particularly among minorities), even by medical professionals... until the damage is undeniable. And even today there is often a reluctance to seek help, fearing that others might consider the disorder self-imposed. An eating disorder is a bio-psycho-social illness, not a lifestyle choice. We wouldn't judge someone with cancer or diabetes. Yet someone suffering from an eating disorder is sometimes criticized or dismissed.
But not much is going to change until we start a dialogue... until we love ourselves and strive to be healthy, not to achieve "ideal," unrealistic body images... until bullying is no longer a problem on our school campuses. As many as 65 percent of eating disorder sufferers cite the effects of size and weight bullying as the root of where their struggle began.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, research and program outcomes show that education and outreach lead to more people recognizing the problem and seeking help. Get the conversation started now in your family, your schools and your community.
Let's all come together to model acceptance and celebration of diversity in body shapes and sizes. And if you are concerned for yourself, a friend or family member, you can take a free, anonymous online screening for eating disorders at MyBodyScreening.org. And find more information at MyNeda.org.
I had no idea... that freedom from an eating disorder was possible. But I am living proof.
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

NEDA Awareness Week 2014

February 23-March 1 2014 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week and I am going to do everything I can to use the materials http://nedawareness.org/ provides to spread the word about the seriousness of eating disorders. Get involved and make a difference!
 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Biggest Loser's Controversial Finale

I couldn't help but see all the news stories focused around the controversial finale of the most recent season of The Biggest Loser. The finale that named Rachel Frederickson the winner of this season has created some major waves among radio and television media. Many are blaming the show's producers and others blame Rachel herself for the frail and extremely unhealthy frame that was revealed during the show. Her frame left even her trainers speechless and their faces of shock clearly show that even they believe there's a problem.

I haven't put a link on here to the story because I don't want you as my readers getting distracted by the story and the numbers they throw around in the articles concerning her pre-show and post-show weight. However, I couldn't sit back and not comment on this. First of all, I want to say how pleased I am to see that the media IS making such a big deal out of this. I am so glad that viewers made such an impact on all forms of social media after seeing the finale that it caught the attention of some of the biggest news sources out there and offered the opportunity for them to voice their opinion. Which to my surprise, is showing deep concern for Rachel and her unhealthy weight, some even rightfully so calling her anorexic.

Second of all, concerning Rachel, my heart broke as I watched the reveal video and saw her frail frame, barely standing on the scale and her gaunt and malnourished face saying the words "I now know I can move forward in my life and know that I can take control and do anything I want." When I heard her say those words, I knew it was true. This woman who used to place herself in hiding because of her excessive weight, had turned to the opposite extreme and had gotten caught in the trap that ED laid out for her, the trap of control. Those of you who have had an eating disorder know exactly what I mean when I say that the element of control in an eating disorder is at the heart of so many body image issues. I know for me, it was one of the only senses of control I felt that I had over my life. The ironic part is, I thought I had so much control over my body but in reality, it wasn't me, it was my disease that was running my life and deciding my every single move; leaving me with no control at all. The eating disorder creates the illusion that you gain control but in reality, you lose it.
Seeing this story from the perspective of someone who has been in recovery for years now, I empathize with Rachel because I have been in her shoes before but I also see the road to destruction that she's headed down and I can't help but want to scoop her up and rescue her.

One of the toughest things for me now is seeing people struggling with eating disorders and wanting to throw that rescue rope out to them as they're drowning but knowing that unless they want it, unless they truly desire recovery, I can do absolutely nothing for them. It's such a helpless feeling that leaves me on my knees praying that they would realize the trap that's laid before them.

I am writing these words to you, my friends, if you feel like you're in that trap right now but are too scared to grab onto that rescue rope, JUST DO IT.  I did and it literally saved my life. There's so many resources out there that will help you on your road to recovery. One of the greatest resources out there, in my opinion is http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/ This site has the help and support that can get you into recovery programs and set up with the right doctors who can help you. Don't allow ED to ruin your life even one more moment, reach out for help now!

xoxo,
Bre

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

You are Worth Recovery

NEDA posted this today on their Facebook page and I had to share. Demi Lovato has always been very open with her story of her struggles with self harm and eating disorder behaviors. Thankfully, because she chose to face ED head on, she is living a life of recovery today. I think this quote is so powerful because I remember feeling the same way. Once you overcome that hurdle and realize you are truly a treasure and loved, that's when the healing can begin. You ARE worth recovery. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

American Eagle's Aerie Brand Reveals Real Beauty

I have been seeing these posts all over my Facebook newsfeed this week about this new Aerie Ad campaign that features un-touched/un-Photoshopped models. So, I couldn't help but Google it this weekend and share it. I love seeing positive changes like this in the fashion world and will be thinking twice now before buying VS when I could be supporting a company like Aerie who makes a stand like this! Check out this great article and be sure to watch the movie too clip too. Remember, you are beautiful just the way you are!
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2541364/American-Eagle-ditches-Photoshop-new-non-airbrushed-lingerie-campaign-celebrates-REAL-beauty-blemishes-all.html

Friday, November 22, 2013

My Response to the Recent Viral Article "5 Reasons to Date a Girl with an Eating Disorder"

It has been months since I have posted but with all the recent talk over the article published last week "5 Reasons to Date a Girl with an Eating Disorder" I couldn't help but write about the post and the responses. If you haven't heard or read about it I have linked it below. The title alone makes me cringe and the content, literally makes me sick. I am posting a link, not because I want to drive more attention to his site but because I think it's important that we understand the misconception that individuals have about eating disorders and why now, more than ever, we  need to make a stronger stand to bring to light the lies that are perceived about those with eating disorders. Here is the disgusting and ignorant article that has now gone viral and received feedback from world news sources...5 Reasons to Date a Girl with an Eating Disorder

The response to this article has included outrage from bloggers, social media enthusiasts and media news sources. One that I appreciate the most though is this response from the Huffington Post. In the midst of the disgust I feel towards the original article, I feel a sense of pride that news sources and those within leadership positions in this country have made a stand, lashing back at this blogger with a defense for those struggling with eating disorders. Kudos to every single author that read the article and in response, posted to better educate the public about the TRUTH of eating disorders and the struggle millions face each day. If anything good came out of this whole scenario, it was that the world is now better educated about the seriousness of eating disorders. I am focusing more on the response in this article because I don't even want to re-read the vulgarity included in the original post, rather, I choose to reflect on the good that has come out of something so evil.
I now want to share what a writer wrote in response to the post that the National Eating Disorder Awareness website published a few days ago. This response is from a real man who knows the truth behind the lies that are perceived and shares incredible wisdom and shows his immense love for his girlfriend. Please read the following and be encouraged that there are good people in this world...
1. They’re just like you.
Despite the stigmas that surround eating disorders, people with them are just like people without them.  They have jobs and families; they go to school and have friends and hobbies, dreams and aspirations.  They’re just like you and me.  And not only that, eating disorders do not affect only women – they affect men, too, and people of all races and socioeconomic statuses.  My time dating a girl with an eating disorder has helped me learn how to handle my own problems with depression and anxiety and gain a deeper understanding of just how much we each have in common with one another.   It may come through shared empathy and coming to the realization that we all have demons we need to face down,  or it may come in the simple form of realizing one of your closest friends or family members has an eating disorder – the same people you watch movies with, party with, talk with, and love – those are the people affected by eating disorders.
2. They’re brave.  Unbelievably brave and they can teach you things you never thought possible. 
My girlfriend has achieved impressive academic, personal and professional success while struggling with her eating disorder. In the midst of these achievements, she was hospitalized several times and bravely went through rehabilitation.  I personally never knew someone could be so absolutely courageous.  Before I met her, I thought I was more or less doomed to a life of depression and that I had no real way out of it. I quickly learned through my girlfriend the true meaning of being brave.  Bravery is staring down your problems, accepting them, coming to terms with them, and addressing them.  Whether it’s through personal behavior modification along with a therapist, psychiatrist, or with a network of others who are afflicted.   She still struggles from time to time with her eating disorder. We all have our own struggles and I still have mine too, and what she has taught me is that problems can only be solved when they are understood.  “Shrugging them off” or being “tough” doesn’t solve anything.
3. She likes to cook (and so do I).
Along the way in fighting her eating disorder, my girlfriend and I have both learned to grown fond of cooking and eating mindfully because well… after all, eating is necessary for living but it is also central to eating disorders.  Through discussing her struggles with bulimia nervosa and how it makes her feel psychologically, I came to the realization of just how important being healthy is.  When you don’t eat or you don’t eat healthy, you feel tired and anxious, weak, and a myriad of other unpleasantries.  When you eat mindfully, you have more energy, your hormones stay in balance and overall you feel healthy. Because of her, I recognized my own ability to cook and we got into cooking together which has become one of our favorite, most relaxing, and most useful skills.  Nutrition is important and I would have never taken such an in-depth look into it if it weren’t for my girlfriend.
4. I’ve learned that the media and reality are very different things.
Movies, television, video games, and advertisements – they all make use of buff, slim, shiny bodies, both male and female.  Sure, I work out, I eat pretty well but I don’t have visible abs or massively cut pythons for biceps.  And I’m not saying there’s a problem if you do – fitness in moderation is healthy.  Seeing images on the screen or on billboards that make you think your body isn’t “good enough” isn’t healthy and it also isn’t reality.  The reality is, people come in different shapes and sizes and peoples’ thoughts and actions mean much more than their physical appearance.  It goes without saying that what we see on television is rarely ever reality anymore but by dating a girl like my girlfriend, I have learned firsthand just how important it is to realize that the media is not reality and to accept our inner beauty.
5.  It doesn’t define her. 
The reasons you should date someone who has or has overcome an eating disorder are the same reasons you should date anyone else.  Because you love them, because they’re fun, they share your interests, values, common beliefs – anything.  There is no reason you shouldn’t date someone with an eating disorder and just because they have one doesn’t mean it defines them.  If someone asked me to describe my girlfriend, I’d mention her intelligence, her love of biking, helping people, learning, hockey, and her sense of humor and all the love and understanding she has shown me.  Her eating disorder wouldn’t be on the list because it isn’t what defines her and it isn’t what defines anyone.