National Eating Disorders Association
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Recovery

My name is Hannah and I am recovering from anorexia nervosa. It's been about six years now and here I am, sharing my story for the first time. My general motto is, “Go big or go home,” which is kind of what I am doing here. 

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Surviving the holidays when you have an eating disorder is not always easy. If you are like many of my clients, you are so not looking forward to the holiday parties, events, dinners, and plans.

For most, this is overwhelming because you know there will be food involved and fear is what causes you anxiety. You are worried that people will judge what you are eating, make comments about your body, or someone will say something to upset you.

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The holidays can be a challenging time of year for many people. Some get stressed out because they’re hosting, some are anxious because of the time with family or being around a lot of people. Others may have a really hard time being around so much food or alcohol since both of those tend to be cultural aspects of the holiday season. 

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Eating disorders are stereotypically viewed as illnesses that plague young, upper-class, white females. This idea is perpetuated by a variety of factors, including the media, and prevents other people with eating disorders from seeking or receiving the help they need and deserve. While the research into males with eating disorders has recently begun to gain traction, many other groups are still being dismissed. One of those groups is gender nonconforming people. 

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I’ve been in recovery for my eating disorder for eight, going on nine years now.

When I typed that sentence while brainstorming for this blog post, I first felt a sense of intense pride in myself and how far I’ve come from the scared, 18-year-old girl who entered treatment those many years ago to a confident transgender man.

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When I think back to my high school years, it was a series of rituals. The same foods, the same habits, the same clothes; everything was a routine because in my mind, that’s when things were in control. The truth is, I was anything BUT in control. 

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Three out of my 16 years of life were spent in my eating disorder. It was a silent battle—I appeared as smiley as ever, even through the weeks of being too nauseated to eat, let alone function properly. It wasn’t that I was unloved; I’ve always had a loving, supportive family and solid friends around me. It was for this very reason that I couldn’t share my struggles. I loved and cared for them so deeply that I was willing to keep my pain to myself instead of bringing pain to them.

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Leon Silvers is a psychotherapist, founder, and director of Silvers Psychotherapy, a group therapy practice in NYC. He specializes in working with clients with eating disorders, substance abuse, trauma, and LGBT issues.

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The value of relationships cannot be understated. The relationship the patient has with their bodies and their health care providers are two of the most crucial. So many have felt isolated and ashamed and being able to step into a truly "judgment-free zone" with a provider can be life changing. When a patient leaves the office with an inclusive, engaging care plan, there is a visible lightness about them! With that lightness comes long-term positive changes in health. 

Here are four ways that you, as a provider, can create a safe space for patients: 

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“Dear Melody” is a monthly advice column by Dr. Melody Moore, a clinical psychologist, yoga instructor and the founder of the Embody Love Movement Foundation. Her foundation is a non-profit whose mission is to empower girls and women to celebrate their inner beauty, commit to kindness, and contribute to meaningful change in the world. Dr. Moore is a social entrepreneur who trains facilitators on how to teach programs to prevent negative body image and remind girls and women of their inherent worth.

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