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4 Reasons Why I’m an Eating Disorders Awareness Advocate

By Laura Porter--During my freshman year of college, when I was in the darkest moments of my eating disorder, I didn’t know where to turn for help. There was no group that was openly discussing eating disorders and, although I knew others who were also struggling, I didn’t know anyone who openly discussed his or her eating disorder recovery. After a while, I realized that I had the power to become an advocate for eating disorders awareness. Here are four of my main reasons for being active in the fight against EDs. 

1. I can be the person I needed when I was younger.
When I was struggling, I needed someone who understood what I was feeling, who could tell me that recovery is possible and that it’s okay to struggle. I needed someone who was not afraid to talk about eating disorders, and two years later, I found her. I re-launched an organization to promote eating disorder awareness on my campus called SPEAK GW. Through SPEAK, I’ve been able to share my story with others, giving them the acceptance and understanding that I needed. It has had an impact on many, but it has also allowed me to heal. Through sharing my story, I am able to give myself what I longed for when I was younger—compassion, understanding and, most importantly, hope.

2. Empowering others has a ripple effect.

When I share my story, I do so because I want other people to know that recovery is possible. I have been so grateful to come across people in my life who have shown me that recovery is real and attainable. As an advocate, I am limited in what I can do.  I can’t save someone, I can’t force anyone to get help and I can’t fight the eating disorder for others. But what I can do is share my story, my struggles and triumph that can inspire others to believe—or start to believe—that they have the power within them to overcome whatever struggles they face. I have seen that, as more people uncover the strength they have, they help others do the same. The more I share my story and hope, the more I’ve seen others do the same, spreading awareness and helping others find their inner strength.

3. It’s the individual stories and experiences that matter.

The moments that mean the most to me are the individual stories I hear from people who have been touched in some way by the awareness efforts of  SPEAK or other organizations advocating for awareness. My favorite moments are when people reach out and say that SPEAK has helped them see that they are not alone, that sharing stories has helped them see that recovery is possible and that they are grateful that organizations like SPEAK and NEDA exist. That is what really motivates me to continue advocating for awareness. Although the big events are great, it’s really about seeing the impact that awareness efforts can have on people’s lives.

4. Speaking up can save lives and touch people in ways I will never know.

When we speak up and share our stories, we take power away from the stigma commonly associated with mental illness. Part of the shame for me when I was struggling was that I didn’t think that I could talk openly about what I was going through. I didn’t think sharing my feelings or admitting that I had an eating disorder was “appropriate,” which only enhanced my self-hatred and shame. But when we speak up, we help people know that they’re not “overreacting,” “looking for attention” or “being dramatic.” What they are going through is a mental illness and that, as with any mental illness, recovery is possible. When we share openly and promote education and awareness, we can reach people, some of whom we will never know. I firmly believe that if I share my story and one person finds hope, feels understood or takes some feeling of comfort away from the talk, then sharing my story was absolutely worth it.

Want to bring awareness and activism to your campus? Check out our Proud2Bme On Campus tab for ways to get involved!
 

About the blogger: Laura Porter is a student at George Washington University majoring in political communication with a minor in psychology. After taking three semesters off of school for her own mental health struggles, Laura became passionate about advocating for increased awareness of mental illness among college students, specifically eating disorder awareness. Laura served as president of Students Promoting Eating Disorder Awareness and Knowledge at GW (SPEAK GW) as well as a communications intern at Active Minds Inc.  

Also by Laura:

5 Things I've Learned in Recovery (As Told Through Broad City GIFs)

5 Ways to Advocate and Promote Awareness on your Campus

Taking Up Space: An Interview with Beck Cooper

Never Stop Fighting for Recovery

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

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