Originally posted on Huffington Post
Admitting to yourself (and to others) that you have an eating disorder is hard.
Seeking treatment for an eating disorder is hard.
Working through recovery is hard.
This eating disorder business is very hard.
And yet we carry on and continue moving forward with the hope of a better life. We use intrinsic motivation and the promise of peace to drive us forward. We follow in the path of those before us who made it to the other side, and we pave the way for those who trail behind us in the quest for recovery.
There are a lot of us wandering this difficult trek. In fact, there are millions of us across the U.S -- 30 million to be exact. There are so many of us, that we have grown entire communities full of information-sharing, advocacy, and supportive networks. We have treatment centers, hospitals, support groups, and specialists... and we have each other.
This eating disorder business is very hard. It takes a village to make us better.
I recently read an article that spoke about the significance of "load sharing." Load sharing stems from the social baseline theory -- the idea that humans are meant to be close to other humans -- in order to draw from these social resources, and to give each other support and strength to thrive and navigate through the world.
This inherent drive to connect with others is there for a reason. It connects us to the people we care about, and provides us with the opportunity for load sharing. When facing the emotionally trying experience of eating disorder recovery, being physically close to someone that you have a positive relationship with can help to alleviate stress, and the oftentimes powerful negative emotions that come with it. Load sharing is exactly how it sounds: you are simply sharing the emotional load with another, because being close to someone (eating disorder sufferer or not), you reap the benefits of having some of the burden lifted from your shoulders -- and when you are struggling, every bit counts. Essentially, other people can help you to carry the weight.
This eating disorder business is very hard. All the more reason for us to stick together.
So you when you feel like hiding, retreating, separating, or taking a step backwards; go against the urge to withdraw, and reach out to a friend. Call someone who is a good listener, meet up with someone who has been there before, commiserate with someone who is in the same boat, or get inspired by someone who is sparkling with life and strong on the other side of recovery. Share your thoughts, expose your uncertainties, and lean on someone's shoulder. Share the burden, and lift each other up.
This eating disorder business is very hard. Let's help each other carry the weight.