Last night I had the pleasure and honor of attending the #unispourvaincre Benefit organized by ANEB Quebec at the Metropolis. This benefit wanted to raise money and awareness on eating disorders. ANEB Quebec is a non profit organization, here in Quebec, that offers free help to those affected by eating disorders.
This event was very special to me, as I have struggled with an eating disorder myself, in the past. I am actually very open about it and it brought me great joy to participate, tweet, blog about ANEB, about this event and about eating disorders. I believe it`s crucial to bring awareness and talk openly about this silent disease that is lurking in our society.
I am going to spare you the details of my story and battle against my eating disorder. It started at 16, with a diet, I just wanted to be skinny and pretty like all the models and before I knew it I was anorexic. My anorexia quickly morphed into bulimia and I have struggled with hem both for the next 7 years.
After several failed attempts I finally accepted help and went to get treatment at the Douglas Institute. The treatment worked a lot on my mind, eating disorders being mental disorders. I can`t recommend the program enough. I never thought I could have ever been helped, I`m not even sure how or what happened, but for one year I decided to trust them; the individual and group therapy help you work from the inside out; confront and understand your fears, your demons, talk, cry, admit, confess, forgive, move on, grow… stuff I could have never done on my own.
On the other hand, I developed an interest about nutrition and natural health, in an attempt to understand and better my relationship with food and understand and accept the human body. For me this was essential, comprehending that food can be good for you and see it for it`s nourishing properties versus just calories. Understanding what your body needs and how it functions helped me make friends with food.
I am never going to be 100% okay. I am never going to be `normal`and I will never be comfortable with my body. I am still learning to accept it, `healing` is a long process and I although I have learned to tolerate certain things, to control certain emotions and thoughts… I will probably always be auto-destructive and my biggest critic. It`s the way I am.
Eating Disorders are silent diseases, mental diseases, serious diseases and unfortunately still a taboo. I have seen and dealt with the ignorance and judgement of others; when someone would learn `my little secret`I would get all sorts of reactions: from being told to get over it, asked what the hell is wrong with me to girls telling me they are jealous of my ability to have and ED and be so skinny. Eating Disorders are and can be everywhere, it can affect you, your daughter, your sister, your mother , your girlfriend, your classmate, your friend, that girl from school… everyone.
An eating disorder can be debilitating disease. It robbed me of my adolescence, threw me into the worst depressions imaginable, affected my entire family in so many ways, my relationships, my friendships, my school, jobs, my health and … ironically, my body.
Places like ANEB and Douglas Institute help those affected by and Eating Disorder get their lives back. They helped me. Without them I am not sure I would be here today. I wouldn`t be able to enjoy life and the small things including the occasional poutine, going out for dinner with my friends or having a bite of my own birthday cake. I can finally focus on life, and I have other dreams and goals rather than to be skinny. For 7 years my birthday wish was to be thin.
So, I guess what I am saying is to support organizations like ANEB, I hope to do my part in raising awareness about the disease and help lower the stigma associated with these awful and dangerous disorders.
Last night I also had the chance to chat with the president of ANEB, Josée Champagne. Josée agrees that as a society we need to promote a healthier body image and body diversity; put less emphasis on dieting, numbers and even eating `healthy`, a lot of the times young girls can be impressionable, and any diet or restriction of any type can put them at risk. There should be more focus on eating a bit of everything, in a healthy way without eliminating or restricting foods. The media and fashion play a huge role in the prevalence of eating disorders amongst women (and men) but we should also be careful with things like the obesity campaigns, which, again can scare people into dieting.
When recovering from an eating disorder support is important. Accepting the disease and family support and therapy can make all the difference in the world.
I know this is not your regular beauty post, but being beauitufl involves being healthy and like it or not the fashion and beauty industry are responsible in part for the prevalence of eating disorders in our society. We all need to promote awarness and be responsible.
Me and Josée Champagne, President of ANEB
Eric Lapointe, one of the many local celebs that came to show their support
Melanie, from ANEB