Let's Take Action
It can start with us
Today marks the first day ever of the World Eating Disorders Action Day! I am so hyped over this because it is so needed! I've mentioned before how eating disorders are shrouded in stigma but that's not even the worst part. Often times, those who struggle with eating disorders are denied treatment because they're deemed "not sick enough" (by their insurance company) or are discharged early (again, thanks insurance companies) because they are "weight restored". Excuse me for a moment while I go pull out my soapbox...
It disgusts me that despite what therapists and counselors try to tell us about not defining ourselves by our ed and about seeking treatment early, we still have to be at a certain level of "sick" in the eyes of our insurance companies before we can be granted a life saving treatment. My head is shaven right now but if my hair were longer, I'd be pulling it out. It enrages me that we are made to feel that our illnesses are even less valid because we don't look sick enough to deserve treatment. Forget the fact that no matter how sick or how deep into or eds we actually are, it will never feel like enough for us, but now we have to worry about whether or not our insurance companies agree that we need live saving help.
Can you imagine telling someone with cancer that they don't need to go in for treatment because they are only in the first stage of their disease? Who would even think to do this? That's disgusting. Professionals are always saying to get treatment for a disease in it's earliest stages and as soon as it's detected. If someone is diagnosed with diabetes, the doctor doesn't say to them, "Well, let's just wait until you lose a leg from an infection or for you to go into a coma. Then we'll start treatment." Absolutely not, that doctor would lose his job and all future jobs as an M.D. So why is it acceptable for those with eating disorders to be denied treatment based on the severity of their symptoms or on how "sick" they look?
Back when I was in Res, I witnessed many girls being "discharged" due to their insurance running out because they weren't "that sick". I've cried over it because I know what that could possibly mean. I am aware of the risk of suicide and relapse one would face after being discharged because they no longer meet the "criteria" of the type of "sick" the insurance companies want. It truly disgusts me. And it hurts me. There are so many (both men and women) out there who suffer with the illness that eating disorders are and they hesitate to seek help because their inner voice is telling them that they aren't really that sick, or because an outside voice is telling them they aren't really that sick. Eating disorders are treatable especially when they are caught early. There is no need for so many countless sufferers to die from a disease that is not incurable. Don't misunderstand me, all eating disorders can be deadly but they do not have to be a death sentence. If treated early, the person can go on to live a life free of ed or at the very least with their symptoms greatly diminished. I know two incredible women (who will get their own post soon enough due to their hand in my treatment process) who can attest to this and I hate to think that they might not be here now if they had not gotten the help they needed when they needed it.
The purpose of this post is, yes, to raise awareness but to also inspire us to take action. Things need to change in how families, doctors, insurance companies, the world sees eating disorders. And it can start with us, the sufferers. It can start with us, the supporters. It can start with Facebook friends and tweets, it can even start with a simple signature.
World Eating Disorders Action Day's website has a PSA video with one of my favorite celebrities-- Keanu Reeves-- spreading the message of some truths about eating disorders. There is also a petition on the website to sign to show support. The Huffington Post also covered WEDAD's initiative on their website. I would encourage you to do your part and stand with those who suffer. Whether you sign the petition like I have, share the website's links, make a Facebook post, please do something. We have to be as relentless as this disease is. We are never alone.
So let's raise our voices, raise awareness, raise our forks... And let's take action! Happy World Eating Disorders Action Day.