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Eating Disorder Awareness Week; Local Lived Experience

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

At the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, we celebrate and honor all walks of recovery! Those in recovery from substance abuse, mental illness and eating disorders are great examples that recovery is possible.

Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW) is an annual campaign to educate the public about the realities of eating disorders and to provide hope, support and visibility to individuals and families affected by eating disorders. This EDAW, we’re celebrating Strength through Experience and Knowledge alongside the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) by sharing local Oklahomans' stories about their own journey with eating disorders. Both Brandy and Brea were generous enough to share their lived experience with disordered eating. View Brandy’s story in five different videos on the ODMHSAS Instagram. 

Here is Brea’s story:

Right after high school, I got out of a pretty bad relationship. He was verbally abusive, but I didn't really realize or see it until it was over. I didn't eat for about 2 weeks after that.

Eventually, I got over the breakup and not eating. I met someone new, and I gained a lot of weight while we were dating. He just never wanted to do anything or go anywhere, so we ate and sat, ate and sat.

During this time, the "Love Your Body" movement was getting big, and I followed a lot of plus-size girls because I looked like them and I felt comfortable. Some my friends have always been overweight, so being around them never bothered me. Sometimes it can be hard to talk about weight if I wanted to share your feelings with other people. It got to the point where if you even mentioned weight, certain women would tell you "The scale doesn't matter" and "If you can't love yourself fat, who will?" so I just accepted it.

But then I had a doctor tell me that I miscarried, and it had to be due to my weight because I didn’t have any other health issues.

Before that experience, the most I’d talked to a doctor about my situation was that I wouldn’t eat for a few days at a time and that I enjoyed being hungry; that I'm not really an emotional eater but mostly an emotional starver.

But hearing the doctor tell me about my miscarriage just sort of woke me up.

While I do think we should love ourselves no matter what and love our bodies, etc., we need to take care of our bodies, too.

Now I mostly struggle with wanting to eat, because I desire being skinny more than I desire feeling full. It's not healthy, but it's hard to train my mind. I still slide back into those coworkers will bring donuts to work and I just can't eat it, it's not worth it to me.

I haven't been to therapy in a while, but I did tell my doctor at my last appointment that I'm dealing with body dysmorphia. I’m working on that, and I think I'm doing much better. I look at myself in the mirror a lot more. I try to look at old pictures and love the Breanne I see from a few years ago, no matter what her weight was.

Eating Disorders Awareness Week is taking place Monday, February 27 - Sunday, March 5, 2023. View these local landmarks lit up for EDAW:

Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory, Oklahoma City, OK – Feb. 27 – Mar. 5, 2023 

Skydance Bridge, Oklahoma City, OK – Feb. 27, 2023