Yesterday, I had the unexpected pleasure of being asked to sit on a panel, alongside other eating disorder professionals and colleagues, advocates and individuals in recovery. Prior to the panel discussion and Q & A, a play was performed, showing what it is like to be in the mind of someone with an eating disorder. The constant struggle between the ED voice and the rational mind. The one voice that tells you "you're not good enough, perfect enough, thin enough" versus the voice that says, "I deserve time and attention, I am indeed good enough, I must continue to fight to get better". Check out an article done prior to the event about the writer of the play.
The play did an excellent job with depicting how incredibly ruthless and relentless the voice of the eating disorder or distorted eating can be. It can be manipulative and cruel. Its pleasantries are often laced with harsh intentions. Yet, I am always amazed by the courage and strength individuals find within themselves as they swagger down the road of recovery. After years of lies and false promises made by the eating disorder, individuals can find freedom, rediscovery or reinvention of the self, as well as self-acceptance as they fight to reclaim their lives. I love how such creativity can be found in recovery, which then has been channeled into various forms of plays, books, music, dance, art and so on to increase awareness and encourage health and well-being.
During the Q & A, many insightful questions were asked. From spirituality, to family supports, to the reality that eating disorders encompass more than simply 'anorexia and bulimia'. I enjoyed being on a panel with other experts and front line workers, such as: dieticians, volunteers from organizations such as Hope's Garden, recreational therapists, social workers, psychotherapists and those in recovery. Each brought their expertise into the discussion, helping to shed light onto such a complicated illness. As a professional, as well as someone in recovery, it was nice to see and hear that we all shared the same counter-cultural message. It's not about the food, it's not something people choose, there is help, health at every size, etc.
Another mental health play (not about eating disorders) that is coming up is Elly Litvak's, one woman show, "Now Who's Crazy Now?" It plays in Toronto on Thursday March 27, 2014. For more information, click here. I had the pleasure of taking Elly's story telling workshop in 2009. The workshop was another great way to help make sense of one's recovery journey with mental health issues. For me, it was an emotional, but insightful and therapeutic process.