I had the pleasure of attending the 2014 International Conference of Eating Disorders (ICED) in NYC for the past 4 days. Professionally, it has been helpful to meet other professionals, exchange ideas and learn the latest in research. Personally, the most intriguing and reflective parts of this time away were the conversations that occurred in the evenings at the home of a former ringette coach, with whom I stayed with (and her family) in New Jersey. I thought I'd share a few things I learned both professionally, and personally.
- where, why and which parts of the brain that are neurologically affected by starvation, leading to chaotic voices of indecision, high alert, perfectionism, disorganization and discontent in body image
- how athletes face much pressure to look and perform a certain way... both within the culture of sport and outside the culture of sport. This can often lead to a disconnect or disagreement with both liking and hating their bodies. For example, being muscular may be an asset in boxing, however, can leave some women feeling unfeminine outside the ring (or whatever sport)
- exposing instead of avoiding mirrors can be a useful tool in recovery
- media is not the enemy, however, we must learn how to harness it and use it to help instead of hinder health and recovery (such as: Rise Up & Recovery, DBT Diary Card and Skills Coach and Recovery Record)
- the strong need to redefine (or/and find) a better definition for the word 'recovery'
- a person's eating disorder will have a wider affect on the people around them than initially understood
- what you perceived as gossip about you in recovery might have genuinely been compassion as well as a legitimate need to talk about worry/concern regarding the one struggling (who may not currently be in your life)
- share with people how they have positively impacted your life while you can instead of waiting 'X' amount of years
- I am not alone in being open about my journey with an eating disorder
- you may not understood how far you've come until years later
- people come and go in life... and sometimes, when you think they're gone forever, it is possible to still reunite
- only in NYC will you be greeted by Elmo, Spiderman, Ironman, minions, the statue of liberty, etc on your way to work