National Eating Disorders Association
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Recovery

For many Americans, the Fourth of July brings thoughts of fireworks, family togetherness, sumptuous barbecue feasts and fresh lemonade. If you’re one of the millions of individuals who struggle with disordered eating or an eating disorder, however, celebrating may be the furthest thing from your mind.

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Opening an entire blank book can be as intimidating as opening the door to a new therapist.  “Free writing,” which is writing in stream of consciousness, flowing with whatever comes to mind, can be a revealing technique.  But its limitlessness has disadvantages.  It can unearth scary memories or thoughts that harm rather than help.  I've used Short Lists and Clusters to give myself structure, containment, and safety.  They guide me effortlessly onto the page.

SHORT LISTS

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“I’m so tired of this!!!” my mom screamed, then started sobbing uncontrollably. It’s the only time I’ve seen her do that, and it will probably haunt me for the rest of my life.

I was about sixteen years old. It was a weekend no different than any other, when my mom opened the fridge for an afternoon snack and yet again saw the result of my behaviors.

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Recovery from an eating disorder can be like learning to ride a bicycle – at first, it is wobbly, dangerous, and difficult. Taking both feet off the ground and pushing on the pedals in a bid to move forward is plain scary. Time and repeated efforts are necessary to develop a sense of trust and balance. Only when we achieve this do we start to feel safe and secure; slowly we feel confident enough to start looking around, engaging in life, and accelerate our progress.

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This post by Carolyn Jennings, Journal to the Self® Certified Instructor and author of HUNGER SPEAKS a memoir told in poetry, is part of a series on the benefits of writing for recovery. Through this series, she explores the myths and challenges of journaling and offers hope and insight into her personal experiences with healing from her eating disorder.

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This post by Carolyn Jennings, Journal to the Self® Certified Instructor and author of HUNGER SPEAKS a memoir told in poetry, is the first in a series on the benefits of writing for recovery. Through this series, she explores the myths and challenges of journaling and offers hope and insight into her personal experiences with healing from her eating disorder.

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 If you could unlock a recovered eating disordered brain to peer inside most people would be amazed at the distinct memories of the journey.  As a seasoned nurse, perhaps my memories are more technical than a non-healthcare professional, but whether you are a nurse, college student, or stay at home mom, there are healthcare providers you recall with compassion and those you remember for their unfortunate ignorance.  Why do so many healthcare providers disregard the possibility of underlying eating disorder issues and simply treat presenting symptoms?

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On February 7, 2013, I had the opportunity to speak with a number of amazing speakers at the Norfolk Virginia Naval Station on the serious topic of raising awareness of eating disorders. The turnout was tremendous, the participation was excellent, and the question and answer session at the end was meaningful for all who attended. Not really knowing what to expect or what kind of response we would get from a room full of primarily enlisted Naval seamen/women and a few officers, I could not have felt more supported and blessed to be in Norfolk that day.

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Reaching out for help.

It’s so hard.

After all, you’re not that sick. You’re still functioning and there are many women and men who are so much sicker and need so much more help.

You still have it under control, right?

I mean, you’re eating. A bit. You’re hydrating yourself. A bit. But what you’re doing is not that serious. You can always stop, but you want this, don’t you?

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NEDA is very excited to announce that we have partnered with Screening for Mental Health, Inc. (SMH) to launch www.MyBodyScreening.org, a website where people can take a free, anonymous self-assessment to gauge their risk of an eating disorder.

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