November 15, 2017 is a day that changed my life. On this day EXACTLY a year ago, I landed in the hospital. This was not the first time I had ended up there, so why was this the time that shoved me into reality? I have no idea. To this day (exactly a year later) I have no idea.
What a difference a year makes. I do not think it's a coincidence that this amazing event fell on the exact same day as the day that I almost died. Today we are bringing awareness to eating disorders. Today we are "Smashing the Stigma" that the public places on us, and that we place on ourselves. An eating disorder is a mental disorder. I still hate saying that because I guess I still feel a certain way about having a "mental disorder," but I guess it's time that I accept it. Let me just give you a little background: NEDA (The National Eating Disorder Awareness Foundation) decided that New Orleans is, in fact, as shitty as all thought it was in regards to ED support, so they came in and gave us a tool that we so desperately needed, a clinician-lead, peer support group. This group is free to anyone who wants to attend, but these clinicians give up their time, and running a group doesn't come without costs. That's where this event comes in.
Now that you understand what we're doing here, I'll get back to me... November 15 is the day before my dad's birthday. I spent the night in the hospital. Alone. My husband and my brother (because he was the one who so quickly got me admitted to the ER) were the only two people who knew I was there. I was deemed so unstable that I was moved to the ICU to spend the night. There was a team that checked on me hourly as well as a camera in the room that monitored me throughout the night. The person who was in the room before me died-(that's irrelevant to the story, but nevertheless, it freaked me out.) The next day I called my mom and tried to act like everything was normal. Thankfully she could tell that it wasn't and came to my side. I called my dad from a hospital bed to wish him happy birthday. He told me that the only thing he wanted for his birthday was for me to get better. Well that's a buzz-kill...
As I walked through the door to Oak Wine Bar a year later, I was overwhelmed by the energy and support that surrounded the group. There were a few moments that brought me down, like a message I received to let me know that I was failing at something I was desperately trying for, but that was diminished by the support I received form so many loved ones. Both family and friends were there to support me. Just so you know, I am so loved that it was not only my friends who supported me, but also my mom's friends (whom I'll claim as my own for sure!!) There were silent auctions that we all participated in.
I began to find my peers and we walked up on stage to announce that we were recoverING, and there were moments we needed hugs to just be standing before you. I do not think it was a coincidence that it was the anniversary that I discovered that I needed a higher level of care exactly a year ago today.
I also don't think it's a coincidence that we lost one of our own that night, Katie Farm. As the event ended, we began to receive the information that she had passes as a result to her ED. Let me be clear, I didn't know her personally, but this hit me like a ton of bricks. I cried, no, I bawled in honor of someone I did not know personally; but I knew her. I was her. Sometimes I still am her; sometimes it's sobering to think that I am as vulnerable as she was. Shit, a year ago, I could have succumbed to the sam illness.
I have been saving these pictures, for some time. I was not sure what I was going to do with them. They have been on my phone waiting to be shared with the world when I was ready to release them. I guess I am ready to let y'all see that "sick pictures" don't have to look like emaciated ED victims. We can still be so close to the vulnerability of death and hide it.
Please don't judge one another. Please be kind to one another. Please hold your neighbor accountable, but also allow some room for mistakes and growth. And most of all, please don't judge me and my struggle. It's been a year since I figured out I needed help, and I still feel like a new-born baby lamb in my recovery,