I actually attended their first walk two years ago, and I was in a completely different place. For one thing, I wasn't totally sure I had an eating disorder. I had suspicions, and I'd even booked an appointment with my current therapist for the following week, but I still didn't think I totally belonged. My view of eating disorders was pretty narrow, because all I'd ever been taught was Anorexia and Bulimia. No one talked about people like me with Binge Eating Disorder, at least no one I knew. I would later find out that BED is actually the most common among all eating disorders.
I didn't think I belonged, but I still attended. And when someone passed out two different colors of beads, one for recovery, one for people supporting those in recovery...I picked the recovery beads. I think something inside of me knew what I needed, what I was dealing with, before my mind could fully accept it. I spent the morning at the walk with my friend, Paige. I told her a little bit about what was going on with me, and as I was talking, this woman got up on the stage and started to introduce herself.
"Oh my god," I said to Paige. "That's the therapist I made an appointment with for next week!"
Clearly, the universe had conspired to bring me to this place at this time, and it even put my future therapist in front of me to prove it. On top of that, I'd even talked to the counseling center where, several weeks later, I would start attending sessions with a dietician that I continue to see to this day. I didn't know it, but being at that first walk was a glimpse of my future recovery. I could never have imagined what it would be like.
This year's walk was so special because some of my family was there. My mom and Rob were enthusiastic about coming to support me, and my mom helped me raise money for the cause. (I actually ended up being one of the top fundraisers this year, which was pretty cool!). My therapist was there again, helping to organize the event, and my mom and Rob got to meet her. She also met Gracie ("Wow, that is a BIG dog!"), whose presence cannot be denied. While we walked around the lake, my mom told me how proud she was of me and what I have accomplished. I can't tell you how much that means.
Lately, I've been feeling overwhelmed by what lies ahead of me in my recovery. I've had a lot of therapy sessions filled with, "I don't know if I can do that" and, "What if I do all of that and I don't get anywhere?" (On a side note, sometimes I think my therapist deserves a medal, or perhaps a nomination for sainthood, because I would not be nearly so patient as she is with me). Being at the NEDA walk reminded me of how far I've come, and how rewarding my journey will be. I think recovery is a choice we make repeatedly, and I am at a place where I can continue to move along the path and choose this recovery process, or I can stay where I am because I am too afraid to continue. Surrounded by people who have made the same choice, and some who have walked further down this path than I have, I am inspired to continue my journey and embrace all that life can be.
Happy NEDA Awareness Week!
To get involved with NEDA and this week's activities, please visit NEDA's website or on Twitter, #NEDAwareness.