Today is the start of NEDA (National Eating Disorder Awareness) Week! The theme this year is “3 Minutes Can Save a Life.” A free questionnaire screening for eating disorders and disordered eating is available and can alert either of these problems in around three minutes. The NEDA website also has a ton of information on EDs, treatment options, signs someone may be suffering, how to help people you know with an eating disorder, and much more. www.nedawareness.org
When I first discovered that maybe my “problem” with food, exercise, and body image was more than it seemed, I was scared. I had no clue what it meant, or if I was one of “those people” with eating disorders. I combed through articles and diagnostic criteria. For a few days, my mission became discovering as much as I could about eating disorders, hoping to disprove that I could ever have one. I read through well over a hundred stories, trying to use them to show I wasn’t sick. I couldn’t be. I saw images of others, of how dead they seemed when you looked in their eyes. Mine matched, but I couldn’t see it.
In the end, none of these things really helped me. Many of the stories resonated with me but none was convincing enough to prove I was sick, at least in my eyes. I am the type of person who needs research, which I had plenty of, but also concrete results. I wasn’t okay with the “well maybe you have an eating disorder” answer. So I sought proof.
What I came up with was a screening on NEDA’s site very like the one made for eating disorder awareness week this year. After wondering and worrying and disbelief I had my answer: yes I most likely have an eating disorder and need to seek treatment. And thus began my recovery journey.
I tell you this little story because I believe it really captures why we so desperately need to share this new screening tool. If I had come upon this sooner, before I was actually told that I probably had an eating disorder, maybe I could have been in treatment earlier. If my mom, dad, or one of my friends who knew had seen this, they could have directed me to it as well. Earlier detection and placement in treatment means a greater chance of recovery. It truly can take just three minutes to change or even save a life, thanks to NEDA’s screening tool. We need only spread the word and make sure as many people as possible gain access.