Last night I went to a Benefit for ANEB which is somewhat the Quebecois equivalence to NEDIC (National Eating Disorder Information Centre). There were lots of amazing celebrities, singers, television actors and talk show hosts like Joël Legendre whom I discovered 2 months ago on Alors on Jase (Radio Canada)…I`m his new groupie!…love that show.
The Président d’honneur was Dr. Howard Steiger and his lovely wife Dr. Mimi Israël,Psychiatrist-in-Chief, Douglas Institute was also present. It was wonderful to see so many people attending and getting up and dancing to the amazing performers on stage! It was also quite impressive to see how business people, clinical professionals, celebrities and the public came together to enjoy an evening as well as support a good cause…ANEB (Anorexie et Bulimie)
Eating disorder is a mental health illness and it is very complex. Unfortunately it is still very stigmatized. So many cannot quite grasp its complexities and often try to minimize or dismiss it. If a youth such as at pre-adolescence age, decides they want to be more aware of what they eat…some may omit certain foods like meat and that can be considered a phase, an informed choice to eat healthy but sometimes it can be more.
It can hit anyone at any age…and it IS a mental health condition. Did you know that one diet can actually trigger neurotransmitters in the brain and someone who may be vulnerable or at a risk for depression, can be affected by that “diet”? In one of Dr. Howard Steiger`s lectures at the Douglas Hospital, I learned this and I was quite shocked! And then it all came together in my mind. I find this type of information important to share with youths whom I talk to on a youth help line. It is not a scare tactic but educating so they may “informed choices.” Just as I will now tell youths about drugs such as cannabis use may also impact on some more vulnerable or predisposed youths who could develop Schizophrenia…again, it is NOT to lecture, moralize or scare but offer information so youths make “informed choices” in their experimentation with drugs and alcohol.
I remember teaching in a girls`school 20 years ago and in Grade 7 there were about 10 girls who dared each other to purge…just to try it. ONE continued on that path among the group of 10 girls. I remember seeing her graduate in Sec 5 and how tiny she was. I also remember how her younger sister worried about her and she shared with me the constant binging. Her illness impacted the entire family.
Often people think an eating disorder only affects models, celebrities or people with “BIG issues”. Well, that is so far from the truth.
I did a workshop several years ago on Stress management for adults. There was a 30something woman in the group who had struggled with stress, was seeing her therapist and had a history of sexual abuse. She had missed week 3 and 4 of the workshop and I gave her a call to see if she was okay and if something came up and she would have to decline from the group. She explained that there was something discussed in the group a while back that had triggered her Bulimia. Fortunately she was still in therapy and was able to work through those emotions and she returned the following week.
That struck me at how much this illness touches so many people from all walks of life. She had never shared this information when the administrative assistant had screened the participants for my group…only that she was now in therapy for depression related to sexual assault. She had not shared her eating disorder condition due to the stigma attached to it…she feared she would have been refused to come to the group.
I remember talking to a teen years ago in the community where I raised my children. She was losing weight at such a fast pace that her mother was very worried. She eventually consulted with a family therapist who discovered the reason behind her eating condition. She was stressed to no end with many things going on in her life at school and her family. When she tried to eat, she had difficulty swallowing…it was like she felt a huge ball stuck in her throat and eventually she was just eating less and less. Through therapy and some cognitive behaviour practises, she finally recovered.
Not everyone has this type of condition short lived…some may take years. I can`t think of anything more challenging! Imagine trying to quit smoking or drinking, or using drugs. They are difficult challenges BUT you can go on in life without them. Eating is something you cannot sway from…so if you are struggling with an eating disorder, imagine the overwhelming daily challenge at meal times!
What is most important is to have more and more people aware of this condition and to offer empathy to people struggling with this…not judgement, not condescending glares because the person is so slim , “it makes some people envious” because they are 3 sizes smaller than you…HELLO! There is something radically wrong with our society when people react like that! Why on earth would anyone envy pain and suffering? It`s simple! It`s because they are just not aware.
This benefit was one way to get the message out there that this is a genuine mental health illness and needs as much support and attention as someone suffering with diabetes or juvenile arthritis. This illness is AS debilitating and in some cases can be fatal.
If you or a friend of a friend, a relative or child, parent are struggling with this condition…talk about it…the more people talk about it, the more the public will be aware of this existence…it is NOT a phase.
Call ANEB for phone counselling, check out their website for times of Live Chats, conferences and support groups too.
514-630-0907 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 514-630-0907 FREE end_of_the_skype_highlighting :: 1 800 630-0907 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1 800 630-0907 FREE end_of_the_skype_highlighting email@example.com
Bravo ANEB for the good work that you do do!
© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts
Thank you ANEB for the photos…all taken from their website. Take tour…have a look see.4
Related article blog: Who’s weighing in?.