Wednesday, February 29, 2012

ED Awareness: Everybody knows somebody

If you don't know already, and I'm fairly sure I've mentioned this before, This year's Eating Disorder Awareness week's theme is "Everybody knows somebody".

Some of you might be aware of the 'Six degrees of separation' theory. Even if you think you don't know somebody with an eating disorder, chances are you do. For the longest time, whenever I heard this phrase I thought "That somebody is me. I'm the one everybody knows with an eating disorder."

Then I started asking around. I shared my story, and people I knew started sharing theirs. There was a boy I knew ever since elementary school; he told me one day at the gym that he knew, somewhat, what I was going through. His explanation: He was bulimic during high school, when he was in wrestling.

This was a major shock to me. I was so involved in my own disorder that I didn't even bother to notice anyone else's. When I changed schools, it didn't change. I met new people. One of which was a girl who didn't like 'eating unless standing'. I knew that was a symptom, but let it slide. At that point I wasn't about to lecture about eating disorders for fear of being a hypocrite. She ended up getting worse, getting into drugs and landing in the hospital a few months after I did.

And of course, when I went into the hospital, I met at least two more people with eating disorders. I didn't need six degrees of separation. Chances are, you don't either. Pay attention this week to your friends. To the hard workers, to the withdrawn, to the ones who refuse dinner dates even when their romantic lives depend on it.

Pay attention to the boys and girls in your life who blend in, who seem completely normal. Start a discussion. You might be surprised about who you know who has or had an eating disorder.

If you find a friend who is struggling, help them out. Get them help, and be a friend. There will be a post later on on how to do that.

related reading:

Six Degrees: The science of a connected age; By Duncan J. Watts

Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life


By Albert-Laszlo Barabasi

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