National Eating Disorders Association

My eating disorder has had a significant impact on my life, as most eating disorders do, and it has caused me to miss out on a lot. One of the aspects of my life that has suffered due to my eating disorder is my education. Although I have struggled with food and body image since I was a kid, my eating disorder didn’t begin to fully form until my freshman year of high school.

There are too many stereotypes today about eating disorders; specifically, the widespread myth that they can only affect younger women. But in reality, 13 percent of women over the age of 50 have eating disorders. And until very recently, I was one of them.

It’s not surprising, because in our culture fat translates to negative feelings about ourselves. In our culture, “being perfect” is seen as attainable. 

“But you have always been able to look me in the eye.” This was the first thing my psychologist said when I told her I thought I had Aspergers. 

The inability to make eye contact with others is a hallmark sign of an Autism Spectrum Condition. My psychologist told me that all of the people she had previously diagnosed with Aspergers had a really hard time making eye contact, and that wasn’t the case with me. 

Since I can remember, I have always been critical about the way my body looked. As a little girl and growing adolescent, I began to compare myself to the "ideal" shapes and sizes of women in my culture, seen in magazines or T.V., and even my friends and classmates around me. When I was a junior in high school, I lost someone very close to me to leukemia, and this became the tipping point of developing my eating disorder. 

My eating disorder (”ED”), anorexia nervosa (AN), emerged when I was 12. Over time, like others, I learned to personify and separate the voice of “ED” from my own. “ED” constantly yelled at me, told me that I wasn’t enough, that I needed to count/restrict my calories, over-exercise, weigh myself, and sacrifice everything else in my life for the goal of being thin. EDs run in my family, and along with other disorders, genetically predisposed me to develop one. 

Something monumental happened on April 5th, 2017: for the first time in my life, I spoke openly with my mom about my eating disorder. I had returned home after advocating on Capitol Hill for eating disorder parity and called my mom to recap the day. 

With Easter can come some inevitable holiday stress. Whether it be interacting with difficult family members or remaining calm around the dinner table, managing self-love can be difficult for many. Here are seven ways to reduce stress and sit back and enjoy Easter and the memories that come with it. 

Ciara Rae, an up and coming country artist based out of Nashville, expresses her strengths and self-love through her powerful lyrics. Having struggled with an eating disorder, she hopes to help others in the process of healing with music. At a young age, she began her music training with just piano and voice, but has now extended her talents to songwriting and guitar playing. Her talents range from jazz, pop, blues, country, and classical.

In recognition of the critical needs of military members and their families suffering from eating disorders, the Department of Defense's (DOD) Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP) will once again dedicate funds for eating disorders research for prevention, intervention and treatment programs.

While some of us may share an eating disorder diagnosis, every person’s eating disorder is different. Each one has different contributing factors. Each one started at a different time in our lives. Some people’s eating disorders go on for a long time before being diagnosed. Some people do not go to treatment for a long time if at all. So if every person’s process of developing an eating disorder, and having an eating disorder are different, then it’s understandable that every person’s recovery will look a little different as well.