For National Eating Disorder Awareness Week this year, we wanted to highlight a local community member and eating disorder awareness advocate, Amy Babich. Amy was gracious enough to provide us with her thoughts, experience, and resources to help others that may be struggling with an eating disorder. Amy’s insights are below:
This week is NEDA Week, a.k.a. National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and every year I make it a priority to openly discuss this deadly disease that is often left in the dark. Unfortunately, it seems that unless a celebrity addresses the topic, or an extremely severe case finds its way to the media, eating disorders are rarely talked about. This makes them more stigmatized, underfunded, and a seemingly ‘less important’ mental health issue. Also, the lack of discussion and education about eating disorders can make it much more difficult for those struggling to seek help.
- Anorexia nervosa has the highest overall mortality rate and the highest suicide rate of any psychiatric disorder.
- Eating disorders have very low federal funding, totaling to only $28 million per year. *To give you an idea of how limited that amount of research money is, Alcoholism: 18 x more funding ($505 million), Schizophrenia: 13 x more funding ($352 million), and Depression: 12 x more funding ($328 million)
- Every 62 minutes, at least one person dies from an eating disorder.
- There are more eating disorders than just anorexia and bulimia; there is also EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified), orthorexia, ARFID(avoidant restrictive food intake disorder), and diabulimia.
- Only 1 in 10 people with an eating disorder will receive treatment in their lifetime.
- Insurance companies’ often refuse coverage for eating disorder treatment. *Based on level of care needed, treatment costs between $500-$2,000 PER DAY.
My Own Battle
It took me many years, and numerous rounds of treatment, to get to where I am today: recovered from anorexia. I wanted to start by saying that so that people can realize if recovering from an eating disorder was as simple as “just eat your food,” it wouldn’t have taken 4+ years, 3 different facilities, and 8 admissions to do so. For me, my eating disorder was a slow suicide, and one of the many self-destructive behaviors I engaged in. It wasn’t about the food, and if you ever are to hear anyone talk about eating disorders, they’ll also tell you the same.
Recovery didn’t come until I really wanted it, which took much longer than the people who were by my side through it all had hoped, including myself. What it really took for me to choose recovery was a very serious medical complication. In my last relapse, I had a seizure on my best friend’s floor at 2 a.m. The seizure was caused by refeeding syndrome, which is a life-threatening reaction that the body has when it is severely malnourished, then suddenly increases its food intake. Unfortunately, it took me losing complete control over my body to want to take back control of my life; and as strange as it may sound, I am so grateful for that seizure, and truly don’t know if I’d be here now, had it not happened.
Because of the struggles I have endured, I am an advocate for eating disorders, mental health, the LGBTQ+ community, women, and children. I believe whole-heartedly that I am here on this earth to let people know that they are not alone.
To Those Struggling
There is help out there, and it’s okay to ask for it. That’s why things like eating disorder treatment facilities, programs, and specialized therapists exist. Know that you are worthy of love, happiness, and freedom and that you are not alone. Asking for support takes a great amount of strength, so please try not to look at it as a weakness. Recovery is possible, and this big, beautiful, chaotic mess of a world needs you. Stay strong, and keep fighting.
NEDA Helpline: 1-800-931-2237
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-223-5001
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
With wishes of happiness & health,
Final thoughts from MINES
Eating disorders are serious. Please don’t wait to reach out if you need assistance. Employee Assistance Programs like MINES are here to provide resources and guidance to make sure you get the help you need. We are always here to talk. Please call us at 1-800-873-7138 if you or someone you care about is struggling with an eating disorder, depression, or any other work/life issues that you may need help with.