National Eating Disorders Association

As an adolescent and young adult, tormenting thoughts dominated my mind. This was the late 1960s and 1970s, a time of optimism, girls-can-do-anything feminism, rock ‘n’ roll and flower power. My friends laughed, danced and were carefree. I strove to be like them. But I felt on the periphery. Nobody knew I was suffering an illness yet to be named - Bulimia Nervosa (BN).

If you sometimes feel worse after you've written, you're not alone.  I've been spending time with journals for about 25 years, and there were times when my beloved blank books weren't good places to bring certain emotions.  If I were angry, upset or down, I would write the story of what had caused the emotion and I would iterate how awful the experience of the emotion was.  I would feel worse.  I had stirred up all the negative feelings by inculcating the story and had merely sunk myself in deeper.

The Boy Scouts of America recently announced that it would be banning the participation of scouts and leaders from the 2013 Jamboree based on their Body Mass Index (BMI). NEDA's President and CEO, Lynn Grefe, explains why this is a dangerous idea and urges the Boy Scouts to reconsider this policy in the future in an open letter to their Chief Scouting Officer. If you feel similarly, we encourage you to write to the Boy Scouts and share your concerns.

I was five when a relative explained to me how babies were made. If a couple prayed about it, she said, presto! The proverbial bun in the oven. Throughout the rest of kindergarten, I feared that God would confuse any infant related thought I had with prayer and insert a wee one in me. For years, my “privates” were areas “down there” no one spoke of, and sexuality was an enigmatic, hush-hush topic reserved for moms and dads. Not until taking a college sexuality course in my early twenties did I truly grasp the details of my sexual anatomy and just how valuable such understanding is.

Today, I would recognize the signs: the 11 year old girl in the sixth grade class spending her entire recess and lunch-break running in the schoolyard and doing circuits in the gym; every day, exercising more; the same girl continuing to get top marks with her school work, always punctual, eager to please, but becoming withdrawn; her bubbly personality disappearing; she is not eating her lunch – she offers it to her playmates. She keeps only the apple and eats this very, very slowly, one nibble at a time.

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.

This year, thanks to the help of NEDA’s dedicated STAR Program Volunteer Advocates, important bills have passed in states across the country!

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.


“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”  — Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum

Since I began speaking publicly about my personal eating disorder battle, I’ve encountered many individuals enduring similar challenges. One of the first was a man whose 22-year-old daughter, Katherine, was severely ill with anorexia. “She won’t eat,” he wrote me in an email. “Her mother and I feel helpless.”

“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.


NEDA is here to support you during the evolving COVID-19 outbreak. The health of our community, especially those who are most vulnerable to the virus' serious complications, remains paramount. To access resources that can provide free and low-cost support, please click here.