February is Eating Disorder Awareness Month. Where I Stand is hosting The Purple Project for the month of February. I first discovered this last year when they hosted a similar event via Facebook where everyone could join. It was such a beautiful idea. Not only was it a great idea, but the more I read, the more it effected me. There were so many people who were willing to share their story, who fearlessly told strangers why it is they wear purple. I knew that I wanted to share something because I found all the other contributors to be so inspirational and moving to me. So I decided to post why I wear purple…
I wear purple because I am done letting my eating disorder tell me what I can and cannot do. I’ve spent too long, listening to that voice that told me I’m not good enough or not thin enough. I am done looking at food and telling myself there are too many calories in it or it’s not ‘healthy’ enough. I have spent too long allowing my eating disorder leave me voiceless. I wear purple because I have found my voice. I have spent too long letting my eating disorder dictate my life, telling me when I need to eat, what I need to eat, when I need to work out and for how long. I’m done believing that my body and my weight is what matters most about me. I’ve learned that I am worth more than the outer shell that I live in. I now realize that my personality, my heart, my work-ethic and my zest for life are worth MORE than some silly number that shows up on the scale. I wear purple because my family and my friends need me. I wear purple because I have a husband who wants to have me, the REAL Elise as his wife, and not my eating disorder. I wear purple because I’m a “mom” of two cats that love me regardless of what I look like. But most of all, I wear purple because I finally have chosen to fight for myself and my health and happiness. I have had enough misery, I have had enough of living a tiring life. I want to finally be able to live fully. I want to finally be able to live healthily. I wear purple because I choose to live a real life and will continue to choose it for the rest of my life.
When I wrote this, I had no idea that it would post to my main newsfeed. I just thought it would go directly to the event page in Facebook and that would be the end of it. But, I quickly discovered that it showed up on everyone’s newsfeed that I’m friends with on Facebook. At first, I felt a bit anxious because of it. But then, that feeling quickly went away. Why should I be anxious? Why should I be afraid to speak openly about the fact that I have had an eating disorder for years? This is exactly what this month is supposed to be all about…spreading awareness. If I’m sitting here afraid to speak up because of what others might think, then I’m doing absolutely nothing to spread awareness. I’m sitting in silence. No, I want to be more vocal about my struggles. I want others to know that I have faced this challenge and obstacle in my life. Even if it would help others to know that I am struggling because they, too, are silently struggling, then I will gladly tell my story and be as open as I can be. I have been somewhat open in the past about it but never explicitly said that I had or have an eating disorder. This is the first time I’ve been this brazen. And you know what? It felt really damn good.
I no longer need to hide in the shadows, fearful of my eating disorder. I no longer need to be afraid to speak up and share my story. I’ve found my voice. I’ve found my strength. The longer we sit in silence and keep eating disorders a secret, the worse off we all will be as a society in spreading awareness. There is no reason anyone should feel they need to sit in silence. There is strength in knowing that you are not alone, especially with a disease that feeds on isolation. It’s time to be bigger and stronger than our eating disorders. We need to learn to take our strength back. If there is one thing that I want more than anything it is to spread awareness and help others in their personal struggle.
I was overwhelmed by the amount of support I got from friends and strangers on Facebook after my post. It made me feel like I had become even stronger in my recovery and in standing up to my eating disorder. It also made me confident that there is more support out there than we probably even realize. People, sadly, can probably relate all too well to eating disorders, even if for nothing more than the pressure to be thin or try ‘this’ or ‘that’ diet. I kept reading and reading and reading other people’s stories and reasons why they are continuing to fight or just beginning to fight for their health and choosing to take a stand against their eating disorder.
It saddened me too, to read everyone’s stories. It just made it so much more realistic just how many people struggle, regardless of age, sex, background, or location. I strongly encourage you to stop over here and read some of these amazing and inspirational stories of all these individuals who are fighting for their lives. If you’re courageous enough and have a personal story or reason for why YOU wear purple, I strongly encourage you to share. Speak up. Find your voice. Don’t let your eating disorder keep you forever silent.