National Eating Disorders Association
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When I first stumbled across NEDA on their Instagram page, I was sitting in a psychology lecture in my university. The name had popped up a couple of times before, but when I started to actually research what the organization was all about I knew immediately: I had to apply! I had never known such a thing existed, a non-profit organization of that size specifically tackling the topic of eating disorders, neither in Germany nor anywhere else in the world. When, a few weeks later, I officially got accepted to become a NEDA Helpline intern, I knew my internship was going to be special.  

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I was in my junior year of college when I decided I needed some more hands-on professional experience. Having witnessed two of my closest friends struggle with body image concerns and eating disorders, I was naturally drawn to apply to become a NEDA Helpline volunteer. 

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It’s the holiday season! In New York, it’s the time of year where bright lights twinkle and greet you as you walk down the street. Crowds of people gather to look at the stunning tree in Rockefeller Center. After walking a few frigid blocks, you dip into a cute coffee shop to grab a hot chocolate. Cradling your own little heater, you head over to Bryant Park to enjoy the offerings the cute shops provide, and maybe a little ice skating, if you aren’t a total klutz like me. The atmosphere, energy, and the bright lights bring the city alive during this time of year. 

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At 10 years old, I lost my mom to cancer. My dad moved us from where we’d lived for almost five years back home to be closer to relatives who could help, since he was now a single dad. I didn’t know how to process my mom’s death or the move. I don’t think anyone expects a kid or an adult to know how to process losing a parent, and my dad did the absolute best he could. Unfortunately, as the youngest child, I got preferential treatment during the grieving process. My dad would often tell my older brother and sister to go easy on me.

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Why do I do karate? I’ve wanted to do a martial art since I was a kid, but my mother’s strict no-violence policy wouldn’t allow it. In college, decreased parental supervision enabled me to finally live the dream. At least, that’s what I tell people. It’s not untrue, but it’s not the whole truth either.

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The following blog post is sponsored by HealthSherpa.

 

20 million women and 10 million men suffer from an eating disorder at some point during their life. Eating disorders are serious but treatable illnesses that can affect anyone. In 2014, it became less challenging for someone with an eating disorder to access care.

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Today is World Mental Health Day, an annual awareness and education initiative spearheaded by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH). This year’s campaign highlights the importance of increased mental health awareness, services, and care for young people in a changing world.

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While reflecting on this past World Eating Disorders Action Day (June 2, 2018), I realized how much I love the word “action.” It’s about doing what we can to make a difference. On a personal level, when I think about action against eating disorders, I think about self-care. 

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Self-care is a practice of sitting with discomfort. It is more than a manicure, a massage, or even therapy and meditation. What lies behind all these acts of self-care that we deem so estimable? Why are these acts so difficult, and at times painful to practice, for some of us? 

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My anxiety started with dress shopping. I secretly hoped for a fantasy moment of bridal beauty, to pull on something slinky and white and glow. Instead, the saleslady shook her head at the sample size dress and my, well, non-sample-size body. “I think we might be able to get this on you,” she said, which sounded like a threat. It took her all her might to wrestle the dress around me, and the result wasn’t pretty.

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