Shout-out to the Online Health Community!

REPOST from WEGO Health HAWMC

 

What drives me to write about my health….

 

Each week I walk into my treatment center and see at least 6 new girls. Each week.

 

There are endless studies on how girls as young as first grade are now worrying about their bodies, feeling fat and holding themselves back from normal experiences.

 

Our culture is teaching us to put our appearances before our relationships, our education, our careers- everything. According to Meaghan Ramsey, 6 out 10 girls are choosing not to do something simply because of how they look.  Nearly 30% of teens are withdrawing from classroom engagement because they do not want to draw attention to their bodies. As Meaghan points out, these experiences are fundamental to their development and this is something I know all too well.

 

After struggling with an eating disorder the last 8 years, I know just how much your body can hold you back. I have lost memories, opportunities, friends..the list is endless. I don’t say this for pity, really I don’t need it. I believe your mess is your message, you live this life because you were meant to and I believe I am meant to help educate and spread awareness for eating disorders.

 

Unfortunately, there is such a lack of education and understanding when it comes to eating disorders. The first is how shameful an eating disorder is. I also struggle from IBS, something I can easily talk about in public. I mention I have an eating disorder and 90% of the time the person I told gets uncomfortable, awkward and silent. The thing is, it doesn’t need to be like that. As a whole, mental health needs to be talked about. It’s something almost ALL of us struggle with at one point in our lives- whether it’s you or someone you know- yet everyone is too damn scared to talk about it! It makes no sense. If we could all just be real with each other and realize we are all vulnerable and all have our own stories- the world would be a much better place!

 

My second goal is to rid the idea that you have to look sick to be sick. For the last 8 years of my life, I told myself I didn’t have an eating disorder because I didn’t look sick. And because of that, I lost the last 8 years of my life. I look perfectly healthy but so do 75% of the girls in my treatment program- news flash- we aren’t healthy.

 

I will be honest, I am very new to patient advocacy.

 

Within 2 weeks of working at WEGO Health, I was like wow, I need to pursue this. This is what I am meant to do- this is why my path leads here. I literally had my blog ready in June, two weeks after starting, but I’ve been so scared. Scared that it could affect my career, scared that people would think I was trying to get attention, scared that people would think I was pathetic, and mostly that people would laugh at my vision.

 

Then the other day, I was a guest on a podcast and the host asked me my story. It was the first time the words “I have an eating disorder”  had ever come out of my mouth in public and oh my god- it felt amazing. I felt like so much weight was lifted off my shoulders. It felt fantastic to just have a moment of pure honesty, of admitting that yeah maybe I don’t have my shit together as much as I want the world to think. This moment was so freeing, but I know it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been inspired by all of the individuals I am exposed to each day at work.

 

I have read so many blogs, looked at so many Instagrams and stalked plenty of twitter accounts. I admire each individual for speaking out and sharing their story. It’s really something special to see so many people risk vulnerability to help strangers. It’s beautiful to see fellow activists accept and honor each struggle other activists are going through.

 

The online health community has displayed nothing but compassion and I am so glad to have “met” everyone. My personal social media accounts have been deleted for over 6 months due to triggering content, so when I am scrolling through FB at 11 pm, I’m using my WEGO Kristen account and I love reading all the inspirational posts and endearing messages between members. The online health community is full of the most genuine people who truly empower one another. I love that each day I am inspired or enlightened by an activist’s story or message. A number of times my job (and my fabulous boss) show up in my gratitude journal is nuts!

 

So basically, I have nothing but love for the online health community. You guys rock. Keep inspiring.

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