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Eating Disorder Recovery: Reflections from the Boston Bombing

Posted Apr 19 2013 3:43pm

I listened to the President’s speech at the Memorial Service for the victims of the marathon bombings. And by victims, I mean not just those who were at the finish line and had personally witnessed the explosions; not just those who were injured with shrapnel from nails and ‘BBs’, many of whom lost limbs and their ability to work at their trades. But those of us in the Boston area, and those of you living further from the scene who have lost a piece of our hearts through this trauma.

Maybe I spend too much time addressing eating disorders, and in no way do I intend to minimize the trauma experienced by this horrific event by saying this. But I see so many parallels between this Boston tragedy and living with an eating disorder. Are you thinking I'm crazy yet? After endless hours fixed to the news, here’s what I’ve observed:

  • Both events try to steal from us our ability to live normal lives, to be carefree and relaxed.
  • Both appear to arise out of nowhere, through no action on our part. We are victims of bombings, and we are victims of our eating disorders. Sure, eating disorders can be triggered by a trauma or even a diet, but only in certain people. Neither advertisements nor parents cause eating disorders. We can be at the wrong place at the wrong time, and we can have the unfortunate genetic makeup combined with triggers that set off our eating disorders.
  • Both cause harm that leaves its mark on our memory, which permanently sensitizes us. Of course we may fully recover but both events. But having suffered with an eating disorder we may be more sensitive to others who live with this condition, and we may have a heightened awareness of the triggers which set it off.
  • It takes a great deal of support from a range of sources to move on following both this bombing tragedy and an eating disorder—medical experts, mental health counselors, dietitians in the case of an eating disorder, and those whose experience with such traumas allows you to trust that recovering is possible.
  • Both require you to realize why it's worth pushing to get through—in spite of the difficulty, the depression, the frustrations, the disappointments.

Yes, you can get through this.
If you’re suffering from the continuing uncertainty of this past week’s events—with a terrorist still at large, or you struggle with anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, be defiant; do not submit to suffering silently or passively. And do not accept that this is simply the way it has to be, that you are simply doomed to live your life a victim of your disorder.

Be determined to take charge—to not allow your eating disorder or acts of terror to steal your precious life from you. Declare that you'll show up in Boston for the next Marathon to run or to root, and that you'll work to get yourself healthy to not be a victim of your eating disorder.

See all articles by Lori Lieberman, RD, CDE, MPH, LDN, at:
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