The Importance of National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) Month

National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) month is a time to reflect on this battle that millions of individuals go through every day.  The occurrence of eating disorders has been steadily increasing. The NEDA website defines eating disorders as “real, complex, and devastating conditions that can have serious consequences for health, productivity, and relationships.” This issue deserves to have more awareness, and those suffering deserve support, help, and love. I am not pretending to be an expert here. I am writing this from an empathetic viewpoint with the goal to bring awareness, while hopeful that some readers find encouragement. 

An eating disorder can stem from a wide array of life events or influences. Sometimes it begins with dieting, or the desire to achieve a certain body type, or a traumatic life event, or anything in between. No matter the initial cause that sparked the change, nothing can change how difficult it is. The internal battle should not be underestimated or diminished. 

To anyone reading this who is struggling, or has struggled, with an eating disorder- know that you are strong. What you are going through is inconceivable for anyone who has not had a similar experience. Also know that you are surrounded by people and resources to support you, and help take steps towards healing when you are ready. Emmanuel has an excellent counseling center and NEDA has a help hotline as well as a website with all kinds of support information. 

To friends and peers- don’t pretend to know and understand what your friend is going through, because unless you have gone through the exact same situation, you don’t. Instead, simply understand that it is difficult. The best thing you can do to help is just be there for them in any way they need. The love and support of friendship is irreplaceable and goes a long way. Don’t force them to do anything, let them do things on their own terms and at their own pace. 

With awareness on this, it is important to promote self love. Everyone struggles with complete self-acceptance, but imagine dealing with that combined with an eating disorder. While each eating disorder originates differently, it cannot be denied that majority of people with an eating disorder struggle with self love and confidence. I’m not going to ramble off a list of clichés about loving yourself, but I will say this: You are the only you. You cannot be compared to anyone because you are the only one with your unique set of skills and characteristics. Own it and know that you are loved.

This month is so important because it is easy to forget about eating disorders when you are not personally effected. Awareness is crucial. Without awareness, the issue at hand can slip through the cracks. Take the time to let friends know you are there for them, because we don’t know what everyone is going through. In the spirit of NEDA, take some time to reflect, become more educated, and love yourself, and others, a little extra.