It’s been 1 year since I first publicly shared my story of my eating disorder on social media. It was January 2017 when I saw that the annual National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) walk was coming to Phoenix, AZ again + I had been invited to walk on the team for the hospital I was treated at. For 8 years, I ignored this invitation because I was afraid to get involved or to share my story with others. I didn’t know what would come up for me emotionally or if anyone would support me. But last year, something changed. I was ready to take that leap + share my story with others. I wanted to take away from the stigma that kept me from sharing my story… SHAME. I was so sick of feeling embarrassed to tell someone what I had been through + I didn’t want others to feel that same way that I had spent years of my life doing. Enter my story on Facebook. (YIKES)!!!
I texted my husband one morning while I was at work + just asked, “Would you be interested in doing this NEDA walk with me”? Of course he responded with an overwhelming YES + I was off to register the both of us on the Nationaleatingdisorders.org website. After I registered, I realized that there was an option for me to share my personal story + create a personalized page to connect with others about how this walk was important to me + why I was deciding to share my story with the world. After taking a little time, I typed up a few paragraphs about my personal experiences + clicked the “submit” button. I was live + also freaking out a little bit. I posted the link on my Facebook account + immediately texted my sister something along the lines of, “OMG freaking out. I just posted about my eating disorder + the NEDA walk on Facebook”. Her response was simple. “I’m so proud of you, Ash. You’re making such a big difference to so many people”! My anxiety fell back + I waited to see the comments rolling in.
Overwhelming support + love is what I received back. So many people pouring their hearts out + donating to the cause that would help save lives + encourage others to push through the disease they secretly struggle with behind closed doors. I felt a sense of relief. I knew that this weight + the secret I had been holding back on for so many years was lifted off of my shoulders. It was time to start sharing this reality of how many people really suffer from eating disorders, what it’s like living with one + how you start to make changes to overcome an eating disorder. These are things I wanted + needed support with when I was fighting for my recovery + now I’ve made it part of my job to document this information + make a difference to others + their families looking for support.
The NEDA walk is held in cities all over the U.S. year-round + happens to take place in Phoenix in the month of February. The walk is at the Phoenix Zoo + the funds raised for my participation in the walk go toward the volunteers + staff at NEDA to answer calls, look for resources for people looking for treatment in their area + raising awareness for this issue that unfortunately goes undetected for many years in so many girls, boys, men + women all over the world. Because of the secrecy + shame of this disease, many people such as myself feel they need to hide their struggle from others. Now that I’m in a place of recovery, I feel it’s important to share my story in an attempt to take away from the pain, shame + what so many families + loved ones do not know about this disease. It’s CURABLE! It is possible to overcome, but it takes an incredible amount of understanding, patience + willingness to listen + talk about difficult topics.
Now, in January 2018, I can say that I launched my blog about 9 months ago, I’ve shared my story openly + traveled all over the country sharing my story + working to impact the eating disorder community to offer resources that are so needed. I guarantee that if you don’t have an eating disorder yourself, you most likely know a few people who have suffered or are currently quietly suffering from an eating disorder. The problem is that it’s something too many people feel ashamed to admit or ask for support. I am working to break that stigma. Help me break the stigma by liking this post, sharing it, commenting or donating to help other people just like me to get the support they need.
If you’d like to donate, click here + then to “donate”, then the drop down to “donate to a walker”. Select the city of Phoenix, AZ and find my name, “Ashley Law”. *You can make a difference! Thank you for reading about this important topic + for considering donating to this life threatening disease. ❤