No, I'm not giving away mental health :o). I am part of the Mental Health Giveaway Blog Hop sponsored by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Reading in Twilight. It's a great hop, designed to help bring awareness to mental health issues, as well as give me a chance to give a prize to once again thank you, my lovely readers, for your time.
I think anyone who hasn't suffered from some kind of mental illness, or who hasn't been close to someone who has, has a hard time understanding. They might think, "Just get over it already." That's a mistake that keeps people from getting the care they need.
Someone I love very much suffered from an eating disorder. I suppose she always will, really, even though she's currently healthy and her relationship with food has come to a nearly normal place. I couldn't understand it - she'd certainly never been overweight, and though there were stresses in her life, to me they didn't seem to be anything extreme. But that was my point of view, not hers. To her, the stresses were enough to need an outlet, and because her family was going through some major upheavals, she didn't feel there was anyone she could turn to. So something that had once been a sort of dare with her friends some time earlier became a reality. Days of not eating, gorging and then purging, or even just eating normally when others were present, then going into the bathroom and purging, dressing in layers and exercising relentlessly.
All of this in secret. No one knew. She didn't ever get to that skeletal, dangerous point (thankfully!) before something happened that caused her to tell someone. I will forever be grateful that she did tell, and received the therapy and help needed to move past this horrible thing, but it doesn't take away the constant worry that she could relapse at any time. Her first year of college was scary because we've all heard of the "freshman 15" (the extra weight some freshman put on) and the fact that she had access to a gym anytime she wanted with no one to police her time spent there. She made it through that first big test.
At the time, I remember how much I yearned to help her, how much I would have given to have the power to take away her negative body image and replace it with the truth - that she was beautiful. I cried a lot for her, my heart broke every day when I thought of the pain she was suffering. I wanted to save her, and felt like an utter failure for not having the words that could do that. Unfortunately, all the love in the world couldn't fix her. She had to do that herself.
She's now a happy, healthy, well-adjusted young woman who will, nonetheless, have to deal with this for the rest of her life. She'll have to fight the urge, she'll have to deal with possible residual health issues that arise. And all any of us can do for her it to love her, support her, encourage her, and do an awful lot of praying for her.
Approximately 24 million Americans suffer with an eating disorder. It has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. It's scary how prevalent it is.
I read a book, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia by Marya Hornbacher some years ago before I knew this person in my life suffered from these things as well. It was powerful and moving as Marya takes a blatant look at her life, and how she nearly died because of her addictions. So if you want to read a moving book about this problem, this is one I suggest.
Below, you can enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card with which you can purchase Marya's book, or any other book - or thing - that you'd like. Then click on another link in the blog linky below that to go to some other sites to read more about mental health issues, and for more chances to win.a Rafflecopter giveaway