National Eating Disorders Association
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This New Year's Eve I had some flashbacks.

When most people think about New Year's Eve, they think of attractive people laughing in glee, throwing pink streamers in the air and making out. They think of rom com fantasies of meeting the love of your life in Times Square and crying over how, like, cute this moment totally is. But most of my New Year's Eve memories do not fall in this category. Most of my memories connect to my rigorous resolutions and my hope for a more perfect new year of follow-through.

When I logged onto Facebook this morning, a friend had posted the following excerpt from Margaret Atwood’s poem Shapechangers in Winter:

This is the solstice, the still point

of the sun, its cusp and midnight,

the year’s threshold

and unlocking, where the past

Everyone seems to enjoy the holidays because they get to see their family and friends at a special time of the year. As college students, we love the holidays because we get to go back home, see our families, and enjoy free rent, free cable, and especially enjoy the FREE FOOD. But that is not always the case for everyone.

Eating disorders have always played a central role in my life. For so many years, an eating disorder dominated my every thought and feeling. No matter what I did or where I went, it accompanied me like an unwanted shadow, turning every life event into a battle against food and my body. I longed for the day when my mind would be free from the struggle, when my relationship with food could be sustainably controlled, when my body would finally look like I always wanted it to and when I could be sure it would stay that way forever.

Dumplin’, a new Netflix film based on the YA novel by the fabulous Julie Murphy, was released earlier this month and has since warmed its way into our hearts and homes.

For most, the holidays are the most magical, joyful time of the year. For those recovering from an eating disorder, however, this time of year can be the most anxiety-filled. Although the focus around food is the most obvious culprit, what’s less known is that certain gifts—that are well-intentioned—can evoke negative emotions, or even be triggers. Here’s a little holiday help in buying for someone in recovery. A little extra sensitivity goes a long way. 

GIFTS TO AVOID.

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.  

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. 

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. 

It’s not that it’s going to be easy, but it is going to be worth it. You can do it. Keep your head up. Keep pushing. Don’t give up. You’re worth it. Those are just some of the positive affirmations I would write all over my papers from treatment daily. 

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