This is Day 2 of the Your Turn Challenge, and the topic is "Share something that is important to you."
Sharing what’s important to me makes me feel vulnerable. Again, fear attempts to take over. What if nobody else thinks it’s important? What if I stick out like a circus clown in a Catholic church? And even worse, what if I blend in and am boring? I saw the hundreds of archived Your Turn Challenge blog posts today. I can appreciate others’ points of view, even if different from my own. So why is this so intimidating? If you read my post from yesterday, you’ll see it’s my amygdala lit up like a Christmas tree. I’m not going to let fear win.
So, here’s something that’s deeply, intimately important to me — eating disorders.
I fell into this career path after spending my graduate years doing research with breast cancer survivors who have, as a result of their treatment, a ton of issues with body image and weight gain. My job at the time was to put them on a diet to help them lose weight, as the weight gain was increasing their risk for breast cancer recurrence. The diet program worked. Until they stopped. Then they gained back all the weight they lost (and often plus some). They were worse off physically and psychologically than before we intervened.
My interest in our relationship with food peaked and I stumbled into the field of treating eating disorders. I had found my passion. Every day I know that I do work that matters.
You see, when we talk about our relationship with food, we are being truly vulnerable. And to sit with someone suffering from an eating disorder is to sit with pain. The eating disorder tears apart their life – their physical health, their emotional health, their relationships, their passions. And as a dietitian, my job is to ask them to do the thing that is simultaneously healing and terrifying – the food.
I don’t take my job lightly. I know that listening and guiding these individuals toward making peace with food is a big deal. The stakes are high, along with the risk of medical and psychological complications.
When I say this work is important to me, the words I write aren’t adequate to explain why. I suppose it boils down to the human connections made and knowing that if I can offer compassion for someone in pain I have done my job. My hope is that all who read this who are suffering from an eating disorder will find peace and healing.