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February 26, 2020

“Come As You Are” This National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

“Come As You Are” This National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Your recovery is valid and important, even if:

You don’t need to restore your weight.
You don’t need inpatient or residential treatment.
Or you do need treatment for the 2nd, 3rd, or 19th time.
You never felt “ready” to recover, or you did and then you didn’t.
You can think of 1001 other things you “should” do first.
Besides, you’re not sure you’re “sick enough” anyway.

Your disorder feels “less than” because it’s less known.
BED, OSFED, or ARFID. Maybe it’s atypical or subthreshold.
You aren’t a young, white, straight, cisgender, non-disabled woman.
And frankly, sometimes you just feel “too old” for this.
Or your symptoms are overlooked because of your weight or race.
Or praised by your wrestling, gymnastics, or running team.

You hear “eating disorders do not discriminate,” but still feel parts of your identity ignored.
Acknowledged but not necessarily incorporated.
When research doesn’t include racial and ethnic minority groups.
Or education focuses on body image and the loss of menstrual cycles.
And “all bodies are good bodies” doesn’t ease your gender dysphoria.
Or take away your chronic pain and sickness.

You’re terrified of leaving your disorder behind.
And a part of you misses it.
Your friends don’t understand why you can’t “just eat normally.”
Or why you ask them to keep their new diets to themselves.
You’ll never share a then-and-now photo online.
Or post your meals to Instagram.

You don’t identify as #bodypositive or an #EDwarrior.
You won’t write an ED memoir or get a recovery tattoo.
You don’t fill your walls with post-it affirmations.
Or your earbuds with recovery anthems.
And you aren’t into those therapeutic coloring books.

You’re still looking for a therapist who fits.
And the recovery community hasn’t held proper space for you yet.

Recovery looks different for everyone

An eating disorder—as well as the serious stigma surrounding it—may try to convince you that your illness isn’t real. That it isn’t serious or worthy of care. That your pain doesn’t count. In sickness, you might buy the lie that your experience isn’t valid because it looks different from those around you.

Let’s not do that again in recovery.

As we work to understand diversity in illness experiences, we ought to do the same for healing and recovery. Just as there is no eating disorder “look,” there is no “one size fits all” recovery. It is tailored to you, complete with all the interesting and intersecting facets of your identity, experiences, and preferences. Recovery cannot be represented by a single story. Yours may look nothing like Taylor Swift’s, or may not be represented in Google’s top hits. The more “you” your recovery is, the better.

This National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, we encourage you to embrace NEDA’s theme, “Come as you are: Hindsight is 20/20,” by prioritizing inclusivity within the recovery community. Welcome the 30 million Americans affected by eating disorders—just as they are.

Share your stories. Look back on the steps made by the field and identify the significant barriers that remain. Tell us how your recovery is as complex and diverse as the eating disorder that preceded it.

Ramble through your thoughts or blubber out your heart. Stick it in a quiet chat or a public blog post. In a white-noisy office or at a rowdy charity walk, in letters, journals, songs, poems, hashtags, calls, and texts, come as you are.

Those starting the conversation about eating disorders for the first time or shouting from the recovery platforms they’ve been on for years, come as you are.

Whoever and wherever you are—whatever your body size, weight, race, ability, age, socioeconomic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, or stage of body acceptance and recovery—please, come as you are.

Contrary to what these disorders would have you believe, you are worthy of connection and belonging here.

And recovery is for you, too.

At The Emily Program, we’re passionate about providing exceptional, individualized care for eating disorders of all types. We welcome children, teens, and adults in a variety of settings and locations. To learn more about our residential, day treatment, and outpatient treatment options, please give us a call at 1-888-364-5977.

Get help. Find hope.