Eating Disorder Awareness Week is upon us. It begins this coming Monday, February 23, 2015.
How grateful I am for NEDA, IAEDP, and many other organizations, large and small, who have championed this cause year after year. At Center for Change, we also feel honored to be engaged in this cause. The promotion of awareness and prevention is a pre-eminent responsibility and opportunity of all engaged in this field. It is a worthy cause. Increased awareness and understanding of eating disorders has likely saved tens of thousands of lives, and awareness and understanding improves and bolsters both prevention and treatment of these painful and debilitating illnesses. It also reduces stigma, judgment, and shame for those suffering, their families, and all of us.
According to a trans-theoretical model of change which is engrained in the treatment programs at Center for Change, Awareness and Understanding is the first step in making needed changes in our lives, and the first step in recovery. That first step begins the journey and opens the door to other steps in the process of change including: commitment, sacrifice, hard work, self-correction, helping others, and continuance until desired change is internalized beyond behavior change to a place of “becoming.”
There are two simple steps we can take toward “Awareness and Understanding:” 1) Learn and 2) Teach. We learn by picking up a book, reading a professional article, asking genuine questions of those suffering from illness and their families, seeking information and help from professionals and experts in the field, and by astute and sincere observation. There are girls and boys – men and women – who are yet dying from these illnesses. That alone is proof that we can never learn enough. As philosopher Eric Hoffer said, “In times of change, true learners inherit the earth while the learned become beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” To truly learn requires time, effort, and humility. We deepen and solidify learning by applying those things learned into our daily lives – we begin to live our cherished nuggets of knowledge. Finally, we teach what we have learned to others. We give our gift, and by so doing, it solidifies our understanding, it bolsters the process of becoming, and it blesses the life of another.
During this week of Eating Disorder Awareness, may we all have the humility, the commitment, the wisdom to learn from others with the intention of blessing individuals and families who are, or will suffer one of these horrible illnesses. May we have the confidence, the courage, and the kindness to also share something we know with others, so that they also may be blessed. Awareness and Understanding is the cradle of growth, development, improvement, and recovery. Awareness and Understanding provide hope to the doubting, the tired, and the weary. None of us can do everything, but each one of us can do something.
With highest hopes,
Michael (Dr. B)