When I was twelve years old I started to fully understand the impact of my mom’s eating disorder (ED) on her health and mind, and, on our family. For several years she struggled with her weight and was frequently on diets and involved in various dieting programs. Although she promoted healthy messages regarding food and body acceptance to me and my sister, she described struggling internally with critical messages about herself. Her diet at this particular time had helped her lose a significant amount of weight and people praised her for it. They looked at her ‘thin’ body and equated that with health, not realizing that in fact she was struggling with an ED and that she was at her physically (and psychologically) unhealthiest. Her life, which had previously revolved around her relationships, her children and her hobbies, became even more obsessed with calorie-counting, exercise and the numbers on the scale. I was aware of some of this at the time, and other things I learned and understood more when she was in treatment and as I got older. For several years she received both inpatient and outpatient treatment for her eating disorder; she is a survivor and I’m proud of her resilience, determination and openness to seeking help.
Eating Disorders are not always visible, but they are treatable. They can affect sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, friends, cousins, and parents. Today is Eating Disorders Action Day— promote ED awareness and treatment.
Carrie Pollard-Jarrell, MSW RSW