If you haven't had a chance to check out the first part of my interview with Project HEAL founders Liana Rosenman, Kristina Saffran, and Becky Allen, scroll down to my previous post or click here! These three teenagers are working hard to raise awareness about eating disorders, and they are also working hard to help people pay for their treatment by holding fundraisers and events. They have taken their own personal struggles with eating disorders and have used their experiences to give back and to help others. It sounds like this has been a helpful part of their own recovery! For the conclusion of my interview, continue reading below.
Me: What has this experience of giving back and helping others been like for you?
PH: It has been absolutely amazing! It is so rewarding to be able to speak with [our scholarship applicants] now and hear how our funding helped them regain their lives.
Our work with Project HEAL has also motivated us to stay strong and to remain fully recovered. We would never want to stand up in front of [people] presenting ourselves as people who we are not. We strive to be role models who are trying to recover and [role models] for everyone else dealing with body image issues. We would not want to be hypocritical.
4- If someone were interested in getting involved or donating to Project HEAL, what might you suggest they do? What opportunities exist to help?
If anyone would like to become involved with Project HEAL he or she should definitely contact us! We are interested in starting local chapters of Project HEAL at high schools and colleges. The main responsibility of the club would be to hold fundraising events including, but not limited to, bake sales, car washes, and the sale of Project HEAL merchandise. We would also encourage the club to hold regular meetings to discuss positive body image, self esteem, depression, etc. and to educate the younger grades on eating disorders. If someone would like to donate to Project HEAL or purchase Project HEAL merchandise, he or she is able to do so through our website. We also encourage everyone to look out for upcoming events on our website.
5- I work with a lot of young girls who have eating disorders, who struggle with the motivation to recover. I noticed a quote on your site: "We hope that people will be able to come to the same realization we have (without dealing with an eating disorder first!): We only live once so we must live it right. It is so much more fun to enjoy going out for ice cream with friends than to go running by yourself as punishment for eating an apple. Life really is worth living!" Having been there yourselves, what might you say to a peer, or a teenage girl, who is struggling?
In our opinion there are three key aspects to recovery:
1) Don't be afraid to admit you are struggling and need help -- Everyone deals with adversity. What truly separates us from one another is how we deal with that adversity; whether we let our adversity overcome us or whether we choose to overcome our adversity.
2) Remember that the physical weight gain almost always comes before one is actually comfortable with his or her body -- In the beginning food is like medicine. It is something our bodies need whether we want it or not. After (and during) weight restoration, we can work on our mentality- how we view ourselves. However, it is important to trust your treatment team. You may think you look overweight because mentally you are struggling. Trust your treatment team when they tell you that you are still too underweight. They are here to help, not harm, you.
3) Find a passion -- An eating disorder becomes one's identity. It consumes an individual and masks who he or she truly is. Thus, we encourage eating disorder sufferers to find something they love and to pursue that thing. Don't be afraid to try new activities no matter how old you are. Discover what you love, who you are. This will enable an individual to develop a new, healthy identity.
It is important to note that these young women are not trained therapists, but are women who have gone through their own personal struggles and are working to use their experiences to help others. If you are interested in finding out more about Project HEAL, follow this link to view their website. There are many ways to get involved- you can participate in a fundraising event, start a local chapter at your high school or college, you can donate money, or purchase merchandise from their site-- proceeds go towards scholarshipping individuals into treatment for an eating disorder. If you have any questions about Project HEAL, or would like to get more involved, you can contact them directly- their contact information is on their site, and is located here. A big thanks to the girls for all that they are doing to raise awareness and make a difference!!!