My Eating Disorder (ED) voice wrote my blog for years. The only time I shoved it aside was to write about running, which I did often (writing, and running, and writing about running). But every other post was about food. I put my “dietitian hat” on and shared recipes of pumpkin muffins with applesauce instead of butter, plant-based protein sources that fueled my meat-free lifestyle, and eating “whole foods” with “ingredients you can pronounce.” I shared calorie counts and grams of protein and how to get your “good, healthy” fats in every day.
I wasn’t being real with what was going on behind the scenes.
A lingering struggle with Orthorexia is threaded in the words of those posts. It was seen much less frequently as the years went on, and hardly at all by 2014. The month before our wedding in 2015, I posted a photo from happy hour with sweet potato fries and craft beer to Instagram, captioned “What bride diet?” I wasn’t posting much on the blog, because I had finally shut my ED voice down for good. I didn’t know how else to write.
In early 2016, I got to see Cheryl Strayed talk in San Francisco. She explained the importance of being sensitive to her audience, as the sound and sage anonymous advice columnist, Dear Sugar (now a podcast!). I thought about my audience, however small, and wondered if my words had ever triggered them, if my recipes had fueled their ED, or if I ever made them feel like they weren’t “healthy” enough.
A few weeks later, I saw tweets and blog posts about the National Eating Disorder Association’s annual awareness week. “I’ll write about it,” I thought. I’ll be real with my audience, whoever they might be. So I posted about Orthorexia for the first time, after I had been in recovery for over six years. I was inspired by NEDA week, motivated by Cheryl, and fueled by the story I couldn’t — and didn’t want to — keep to myself anymore.
It opened the floodgates.
I changed my blog name to “Real Talk RD”, eventually started the RD Real Talk podcast to talk about Intuitive Eating and Eating Disorder recovery, found my Lane 9 cofounders, and haven’t shut up about Orthorexia or eating disorders since.
We knew Lane 9 had to be about real stories from real women, so we started by sharing our own words.
2018 NEDA Week: Let’s Get Real
This year, in celebration of our one year anniversary with Lane 9 Project and observance of NEDA week, we invited women in our community to Share their Story. The applications alone blew me away. I read about women in various stages of recovery, ready and willing to step up in front of their peers, get Real, and talk.
We heard from a woman celebrating more than 130 purge-free days, a milestone in her fight against bulimia. We heard the story of exercise addiction, and how it can lead to broken ribs and knocked-out teeth but still leave you wanting to sneak in a workout. We heard from a college athlete recovering from her second stress fracture in a year, seeking help and learning how to fuel her body and the sport she loves. We heard from a mother, learning hard lessons about how the body changes and how anxiety manifests and how to take charge of her own health when healthcare providers drop the ball.
We heard from women who are in the mud, wrestling against the eating disorder right now. They’re not waiting for the bow on the story, the last chapter to be capped with a cursive, “The End.” They’re speaking up at the moment when they need us all to be doing the same. They need lifting up as much as the rest of us, but they’re adding their strength to the force.
They are staring recovery in the eye, knowing the challenge they’re up against, and saying, “I can do hard things.”
We all can.
I stood and listened in awe. I saw the waves of words washing over all of us, soaking us with confirmation that this is what makes recovery possible. We aren’t swimming alone. Our heads are above water. Our lifelines are available, should we need them. But we can tread water. We can surf. We can float. We don’t have to sink under the weight of an Eating Disorder.
I can’t thank these women, or this community (you!) enough, for being here. You’ve showed up. You’ve shared your stories. (We want to share more!*) Even if the only thing you do here is read and absorb, you’re here. You found us, and you know we’re in the ninth lane with you. We always will be.
*If you’re an active lady or lady health activist, coach, mentor, parent, or healthcare provider, let us know through our community form.