Today is Eating Recovery Day, a day dedicated to removing the tremendous stigma surrounding eating disorders, raising awareness, and inspiring hope for recovery. This year’s theme is #MyRecoveryLetter, which invites individuals struggling or recovering from eating disorders, along with their loved ones and treatment teams to pen letters of gratitude, reflection and inspiration.
Penning letters is powerful. Because when we sit down to write, what we’re really doing is listening to ourselves, listening to our hearts. What we’re really doing is honoring our stories and honoring others, too. What we’re really doing is saying, I am here. You are here. We matter. We are enough. So enough.
Eating disorders, sadly, are incredibly misunderstood. And many, many individuals suffer in silence. Which is why I’m highlighting this important day on this blog. Thankfully, with treatment and support, you can recover.
Below, I spoke with Robyn Cruze, MA, co-author of Making Peace with Your Plate: Eating Disorder Recovery, and a National Binge Eating and Substance Use advocate for the Eating Recovery Center. Cruze struggled with an eating disorder for over a decade. Today, she’s been fully recovered for over 10 years. At the bottom of this post, I’m also including an excerpt from Cruze’s powerful letter, along with excerpts from other beautiful letters. I hope these letters inspire you to sit down and reflect on your own story, whether you have an eating disorder or not.
Q: What do so many people misunderstand about eating disorders?
A: There are many misunderstandings about eating disorders. Here’s some:
- Individuals who struggle need to look a certain way/size. In fact, eating disorders are mental illnesses and there’s no one size that represents someone who has an eating disorder.
- Eating disorders only affect women between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five. The truth is, it affects all genders, races, ages, and creeds.
- Someone who struggles with an eating disorder will always battle one. With treatment and support, recovery is possible.
- Only those who have the illness struggle. While that is true physically, eating disorders affect thousands of families and their communities emotionally. On the upside, families and communities, along with treatment providers, can be brilliant support systems for those seeking recovery. This is why this year’s Eating Recovery Day theme is about writing letters to those people, places, or things that have inspired and supported the recovery process.
Q: Why did Eating Recovery Center choose “#MyRecoveryLetter” for this year’s theme?
A: It takes a village to gain recovery from an eating disorder. There are often so many people that are part of an individual’s support system and treatment team. But it doesn’t have to be a person; it could be an inanimate object, a place, an animal, or something within yourself that you have pulled strength from for the recovery process.
Eating Recovery Center wants to recognize everyone (and everything) who make a difference. We [ERC] want those who struggle with eating disorders, and their loved ones to know that they are not alone, there’s hope, and recovery is possible.
Q: Why is writing this kind of letter so powerful?
A: These letters are reminders and serve as a source of inspiration for those who are struggling. They are also a way to share our stories with others. About 30 million people in the US struggle with an eating disorder. What we can’t do alone, we can do together.
Q: How might readers start writing their letters?
A: Think of someone or something that has helped you want recovery or has supported you in it. It could be absolutely anything. For more inspiration and to write your own, please go to http://myrecoveryletter.com. Here’s my recovery letter: https://youtu.be/OCSqrSxhFgc.
Q: Anything else you’d like readers to know about this year’s theme?
Dear Mum’s Pink Pajamas, I know you’re just an inanimate thing, satin and mature with no feeling. I mean, you’re pink. You’re from the 80’s—I get it! You’re so NOT appealing. But for all of what you’re not, you gave me so much more. You embodied nonjudgment when I hated the mirrored girl, defeated by what I saw… You were with me during those bleak times when I was consumed by dread, when I prayed and cried and fretted, refusing to get out of bed…It’s true, you cannot feel but you were and are so much more to me, you helped a daughter heal. ~ Robyn Cruze
Thank you faith, for helping me believe life gets better, and making sure I was there to see it. ~ Sydney K., a Recovery Ambassador Council member
To my husband, I love you for so many reasons. You live out what unconditional love looks like. You refused to let the eating disorder, which lived between us for so many years, hide the person I really was. You loved me when I was sure I was unlovable. You reminded me that you loved me for who I was, not for what I did… ~ Kelli E., a Recovery Ambassador Council member
Dear Shannon, …You will recover. You will become a mother. You will write a book. You will latch onto and love this awesome, messy, mundane life. The hurt and hell will build compassion. The years lost to an eating disorder will bring you close to others who suffer in the dark—late at night in the kitchen or alone in a hospital bed or homeless inside of a dog kennel. You won’t be afraid of their struggles. Or your own. You will realize that even when the pain is immense, love is bigger. ~ Shannon Kopp, ERC National Recovery Advocate