by Beth Mayer, LICSW
On September 30th and October 1st I attended the first M.O.M march in Washington DC followed by a day of legislative activism. I was honored to be a part of history in the making. Since this amazing experience I have been trying to understand why this experience was so emotional for me. I have heard hundreds of recovery stories through out my life. I have see people struggling with eating disorders on a daily basis for over 30 years. So… why could I not stop crying as I sat at the West lawn of the capital listening to people tell their stories. Here is what I have figured out thus far.
When I suffered from my eating disorder I never told anyone. I suffered alone for over 10 years and it was a secret that no one could know about. In those days, there was little treatment and I now recognize that I was one of the lucky ones to have survived the ravages of this horrible illness. I felt so strongly at the March that part of my reason for surviving was to help others live. I looked around at the power of this group and knew that I could continue my work for another 30 years!
As I sat and listened to these moms tell the stories of their son’s and daughters illness, I felt so deeply for the pain they and their loved ones were experiencing. So many people that were there had already lost their children to this disease. With all of their pain and suffering, they were there to tell their story so that others may not have to suffer from this horrifying illness. How many more deaths will happen before we realize the depths of this illness. I listened to peoples stories of the lack of coverage for this life threatening illness. I listened to people who had lost their children because of the inadequacies in our system. I can not believe or accept that we can not find the funding to provide more adequate service for people with eating disorders.
I felt empowered and disgusted at the same time. How can this strong and affluent country not pay for eating disorder services when we know that people can recover. Why can we treat other illnesses with more dignity and less shame. When will we realize that eating disorders are not a choice. We need to fight harder to support families in their struggles and stop shaming people. We need to stop making jokes about just wanting to be a little anorexic. We need to let people know that people with eating disorders deserve better treatment. We need to let people know that we are mad and we will not be quiet any longer.
I am so grateful that I had this opportunity. I mourn for the losses of these beautiful lives and hope we can all fight for the belief that adequate treatment of eating disorders is a necessity in this great country of ours.