“Viewer digression advised” appeared at the start of a number of The Crown episodes this season. I was apprehensive since the advisory stated an ED would be depicted and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Fortunately, I’m in a healthy state these days and have made peace with my past, but watching ED scenes is always challenging. Apart from eliciting strong emotions about my own experience, observing behaviors fills my heart with grief for the millions who struggle. Unexpectedly, however, my initial apprehension transformed into acceptance when I realized the episode featured Princess Di. Don’t misunderstand—Diana’s bulimia was a complete tragedy and I would not wish mental health challenges on anyone. That said, I cannot think of a better candidate to globally showcase the realities of bulimia while manifesting that anyone—even a princess—can be afflicted by an eating disorder.
I try to keep my blog posts upbeat and positive! There’s enough heavy stuff out there, and Recovery is a beautiful journey laden with victories along the way. AND YET… when you’re deep inside an ED, it can be immensely helpful to recognize this truth:
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
When I was in therapy for anorexia, I was stunned by the other women at my center. I expected to only see tiny young women, and to be branded as a mom of the group. Instead, I found myself surrounded by all shapes, ages, and sizes. Consequently, if you are currently battling a disorder and ashamed of your thoughts, know that you are one of thousands who also need help and extra hugs. If stats help, here are a few striking ones, according to the ANAD (anad.org):
-9% of Americans will have an ED in their lifetime
-10,200 deaths are a direct result of an ED
-Eating disorders are the second deadliest mental health illness
-Less than 6% of people with Eds are medically diagnosed as “underweight”, which means you cannot judge a book by its cover!
I was one of these last stats, a woman with functional anorexia who masked her pain behind a not super skinny exterior. All through my twenties, women would call out, “You’re so lucky! You can eat whatever you want!”, and I’d wistfully imagine responding, “I’ve had a banana and two Diet Cokes so far today—how about you?” Such comments aren’t charging now in the way they once were. I still cringe a bit when someone tells me I’m “looking healthier now” or I’m applauded for eating a large portion. As many of you can probably relate, comments on our figures are just not cool, and, unfortunately, it will take time before society recognizes that telling a girl she’s skinny is just as inappropriate as telling her she’s fat.
Still, I AM SUPER ENCOURAGED, you guys! Although the stats are alarming, there is so much more support, data-driven research, and social awareness about eating disorders than ever before! So although the royal family might abhor The Crown (I wouldn’t blame them) and scenes of Diana’s pain might be too painful for her people to watch, I’m grateful for the director’s decision to publicize what an ED can look like. I’m grateful for all the rad people openly championing the importance of mental health in our world in a myriad of ways. And I’m also grateful for the power of connection that is far mightier than any eating disorder voice. You are not alone in your thoughts or physical pain, and people are available and want to help you, no matter what.