As consumers in western society we can make amazing choices every day. There are literally millions of options in choosing what we can buy to wear, eat & even sleep on. When we become sick however, our choices suddenly diminish & I have seen this be even more the case when the illness experienced is an eating disorder.
Currently in Australia the options available to anyone experiencing an eating disorder in relation to best practice treatment are very limited, particularly for those with no private health insurance & limited financial means. This is simply not acceptable & a matter of social justice. It is one of the reasons why I am so proud of the work we do at The Butterfly Foundation as we attempt to change the systems that are not helping to give adequate treatment & support to those who most need it. There is much work to be done alongside the existing services & practitioners who are out there trying to make a difference. It’s a calling for me at the moment & truthfully I can’t imagine a time into the future when it won’t be.
For those experiencing an eating disorder, based on these circumstances alone, their journey can be a very lonely one. Eating disorders are often a misunderstood illness & our level of compassion for those experiencing the illness; still, in my mind, needs to be raised. One of the most valuable ‘companions’ for someone facing an eating disorder can be creative outlets including art, music & reading that allow them to try & share their journey with others & act as a means of connection & expression. I have seen some amazing works of art from people on a recovery journey & poetry & stories that have touched my heart deeply. All have come with an incredible story of reflection, pain, hope, struggle & love.
I have recently come across a wonderful book & cd that beautifully captures this spirit of expression. You Are Not Alone, Volume 2, is a companionship book for women with eating disorders by Andrea Roe with Shannon Cutts, both of whom have recovered from eating disorders. You Are Not Alone contains some truly inspirational recovery stories, poems, art & music. It is impossible for me to post about all of my favourite contributions in You Are Not Alone (made all the more remarkable in the fact that they are from current & recovered eating disorder survivors & not professional writers), but I confess to loving the song ‘ We Are Who We Are ’ by Alexandra Kelly – “We spend our lives on the outside looking in, Feeling like strangers inside our own skin” & ‘ Steps ’ by Johnie Drew – “ We take steps each day towards recovery, Each step is different and full of discovery.”
If you are experiencing an eating disorder or care for someone who does, I would encourage you to consider how sharing your journey through creativity or even just expressing your own private thoughts, poems, drawings or music could assist you. The women who have contributed to You Are Not Alone have done so, & I congratulate Andrea & Shannon for bringing this book to the world & for sharing their own journey.