Monday night, I had the privilege of attending a CPR/First Aid training that was required for some volunteering that I will be starting in the fall (more on that later!). I'm not going to sugarcoat it.. the 4 hour training was a little long, especially after a full day of work...which is probably why a few people may have received a text message containing this photo that I sneakily snapped from my phone with some one-liners....
Anyways, there were six of us present for the training, but one girl left after the CPR portion because she had already completed the First Aid part of the training. When our instructor went to go print out our cards at the end of the training (which prove we are officially certified!), I got a little social and started asking questions about everyone. Up to that point, all of our eyes were pretty much glazed over except for the random laughs we got at the expense of the instructor's cheesy jokes. One girl was an accountant, one worked at a software company, one was a school social worker, one was a college student, and then there was me! After asking about the girls, one of them asked about me, and what I do for a living. I told her that I work as a therapist, and that I treat anxiety, depression, and issues related to grief/loss, life transitions, relationships, etc., but I specialize in treating eating disorders, body image and eating concerns. Before I knew what was happening, a full blown conversation was going on.. one of the girls was sharing about the eating disorder she has recovered from, and another girl was telling me about her sister who recovered from anorexia. They were all asking me questions about eating disorders, and it ended up being a nice little conversation.
This isn't that different from a lot of conversations that I have when people I meet ask me what I do for a living. Sooo... why you ask, am I sharing this? :-) The reason is because I think about the fact that there were just five of us strangers in a room, and over half of us have personally experienced an eating disorder, had a family member or a friend struggle with one. I think that is significant because it goes to show how many lives are being touched by EDs and how many lives have been touched by them. I'm no statistician, but when the topic of eating disorders comes up, people seem to always have a friend, a sister, a cousin, their own experience, etc to share. Typically, people that are struggling do not talk about their eating disorder or their behaviors- sometimes because they are in denial, sometimes because they feel shame, and sometimes, because it just isn't an appropriate time to talk about it. I loved how open these women were and how great a conversation we could have. And, it served as a good reminder that eating disorders impact many people, not just sufferers themselves.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or have a friend or family member that is struggling, seek help or encourage them to seek help. Recovery is absolutely possible. The girl that I met in the training who shared about her own struggle told me how much of a difference therapy made in her life. It is so encouraging to hear positive recovery stories. If you have a recovery story and would like to share it, please send me an email at MeredithStokkeNCC@gmail.com.