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5 Things We Learned from our #ProudChat with Teen Voices

By Laura Porter--Supporting college students in eating disorder recovery is hugely important. That’s why we partnered with Teen Voices for a recent #ProudChat to discuss ways students, educators and supports are positively impacting their campus communities to promote eating disorder awareness and recovery. In case you missed it, we’ve put together the top five things we took away from this important conversation.

1. Know what you need (and share it with others!)

Transitions are not easy and can be really scarywe totally understand. Whether it’s starting college or coming back to campus in recovery, change brings challengesbut it’s also an opportunity to strengthen your confidence in yourself and recovery! From our #ProudChat, we heard that one of the best ways to prepare for a change like this is to ask yourself, “What do I need to maintain my recovery?”

This could include things like a set schedule, a meal plan or a list of coping skills. Find what works for you! Once you figure out what you need, put it into action. If you need help holding yourself accountable, tell your supports your goals and let them know what they can do to help you through the transition. By doing this, you’re preparing yourself to get through hard times when they come up and taking care of the most important person in your lifeyou!

2. Supports: Your voice matters too

If you see that a friend or family member seems to be struggling with an eating disorder, you can help them by starting a conversation about your concerns. There are great resources to help you feel ready to approach them and lovingly express your feelings and fears. In addition to these, know what mental health resources are available on campus, and share those with your loved one. Remember, supports, your health is also important. Before you talk to your loved one, acknowledge your role as a friend or family member. Eating disorders are complex and can often necessitate professional support. Share your concerns with a counselor, staff member or someone at your school who can provide support services for your friend or family member.

3. Feeling triggered? Check in with your healthy self!

College professors always focus on “critical thinking” skills as key to navigating through the world. You can apply the same skills you use to critique a textbook to challenge what you hear outside of class. Start by identifying the trigger: “What happened before or when I started having urges to engage in eating disorder behaviors?”

Once you know this, use your healthy voice to counter your eating disorder: “Why does hearing or seeing  _____ mean that I should take it out on my body? Just because my friends believe this, does that mean it’s true for me?” After your healthy self-conversation, explore ways you can take care of yourself without the eating disorder: “What are healthy ways to practice self care? What do I need in this moment?” By tapping into this resource that you have built during recovery, triggers don’t stand a chance.

4. Remember the positives

Sometimes it can be easy to get bogged down in what’s not going well, which can lead to feeling “not _____ enough.” That’s why it’s so important to remind yourself of the phrases and words that have inspired you throughout recovery and life. The #ProudChat Twitter community had some amazing responses when asked “What is the best eating disorder recovery advice you've ever received?” Check them out below and spend some time each day reflecting on what makes you feel good!

"Recovery is a journey, not a destination. Embrace the people you meet along the way who inspire you to reach new heights.”
—@gregrheault

"Be kind to yourself! You are doing the best you can; and that is always enough.”
—@marymangione

"Give yourself a break—your eating disorder didn't develop overnight & recovery will not come overnight either”
—@kermitdc

“Don't discount the small victories.”
— @elyssifer

"Eat, Walk, Be as if your younger sister is behind you watching you. What would you tell her? Now show yourself that love."
—@ProjectDAAD

"Take life one day at a time. Slip-ups don't take away from any victory with recovery”
—@audjgunth

5. Lead by example

If you want to see others celebrating their bodies, challenging harmful cultural beliefs and speaking up about eating disorders, show them how it’s done! Do you have to have a “perfect” recovery or be a “perfect” support? Absolutely not. Leading by example is about being your real, authentic self. You will undoubtedly stumble and face challenges, and the awesome part of that is that by allowing yourself to struggle and ask for help, you show yourself and others the truth about recoverythat it’s an imperfect process! You don’t have to have a microphone and 500-person audience to make change, you can start this minute. When you live authentically in recovery or in your life as a support, you can (and will) start a radical movement toward self-acceptance, and that’s really cool.

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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