I am very honoured and blessed to have been asked by the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine to give a presentation at PriMed 2017, the annual largest conference for healthcare professionals in Canada!
I was invited to speak about my own experience with anorexia nervosa, and to integrate research and guidelines about how clinicians can identify, treat, and manage patients with eating disorders. This was a great experience! I had the opportunity to share my story, but also use this to help doctors and nurses understand how they can effectively support their patients towards recovery from this illness.
Eating disorders (EDs) are mental illnesses. There are documented brain changes that occur in patients with eating disorders, and these alterations in neurotransmitters (or brain 'chemicals') make recovery, eating, and weight gain extremely challenging. Recovery is a hard, painful process. The emotional and mental struggles that patients endure are difficult.
However, there is hope. I am proof of that. Recovery is always possible. Fighting ED takes time, dedication, strength, and bravery. Patients need to feel understood, supported, loved, and cared for. They are not to blame for their illness. They need to know that this will be a hard road. The only way out is to go through it. But they can do it.
I hope you enjoy this video, and that you learn something about EDs and mental health. And remember - the principles of support, care, and empathy applies not only to EDs, but to all illnesses in general. Patients need to feel that they are not to blame. There is no guilt or shame in being ill. Patients need to also know that recovery is possible. And experiencing difficulty and pain (whether physical, mental, or emotional) is normal, and expected. But they can rise above these challenges. Often, getting better from an illnesses means that you have to do things that aren't particularly comfortable or fun. And going through this, you might feel tired, frustrated, and hopeless. You may even want to give up. But you can do it. You can get better, one step at a time. Never blame yourself for having moments when things feel too hard or overwhelming. Pick yourself up again and find a reason - anything - to carry on. It might be your dreams of a job, your love for your family, your desire for strength and freedom, your spiritual life, or more. Whatever is important to you - use that as motivation. Because you can do it. And you are not alone.
You are strong. You are worthy. You are enough. You deserve to be well. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to be healthy.