Over a week later, I’m still in shock that I won a scholarship to attend the 2015 NEDA conference. It was, hands down, the most life-changing weekend I have ever had and overall just an awesome experience (in freaking San Diego) that renewed my strength and hope for change.
I’ve been going through a sort of tough time lately and the weekend was exactly what I needed. I’m still trying to hang on to all of the good vibes I was able to gather so I can keep moving forward and someday be half as successful as the inspiring people I met at the conference.
Here are some of my favorite words from those people:
“Break out your sillies”
–Lynn Grefe (former president and CEO of NEDA)
Lynn Grefe’s husband shared this quote from her during the memorial at the first general session on Friday. I wish I could have had the chance to meet Lynn. It sounds like she was an incredible woman that cherished the bright side and even when times were tough and stayed connected to positivity and the beauty of being yourself.
“The realities of our past do not have to limit the possibilities of our future”
– Jennifer Newsom (Keynote speaker, director of Miss Representation)
Jen kicked ass in her speech. She talked about her struggle with an eating disorder, the terrible impact of the patriarchy and racism in the media, and how we can change the world for the better by breaking down gender norms and loving ourselves. I had chills/tears in my eyes basically the entire time. She’s such a powerful woman and I’m so honored that I was able to speak with her briefly after her talk.
Other favorite quotes from Jen:
“Vulnerability is not a sign of weakness, but strength. Don’t give up.”
“You and you alone are enough and that’s all that matters.”
“Life is fluid. Surround yourself with healthy influences. Walk in nature. Keep only the friends who lift you up and leave those that bring you down”
“If you’re struggling, there is hope. Never ever give up”
-Jenni Schaefer (activist, author of Life Without ED)
Also, I met this woman. She is my idol and I got to meet her and speak words with her. *passes out*
“I should be able to disappear and the work continues. That’s what advocacy is about.”
–McCall Dempsey (founder of Southern Smash)
Another awesome woman I had the honor to hang out with during the conference. She really highlighted the importance of caring for yourself regardless of whether or not you have a diagnosis. Also, she travels around and has people smash scales, so that’s awesome.
“I am not meant to be a lean person”
–Andrew Walen (founder of The Body Image Therapy Center) had me in tears during his discussion about the marginalized group of men with eating disorders, especially those with Binge Eating Disorder. Being able to stand up and talk about such a stigmatized disorder and voice acceptance with who you are and where you are in your journey has to take so much strength in this society.
“I am an expert about eating disorders but you are an expert about you”
–one very awesome clinician
This was said during my favorite workshop from the whole conference. It was a roundtable discussion titled “Marginalized voices and Gender Sensitivity” and it basically was an open discussion about the problems with language and bias in the field of eating disorder treatment. In talking about how patients can feel objectified or mistakenly put all of their trust into their recovery team, this clinician acknowledged that “we are not unicorns” and therapy should be a collaborative effort with the patient so they can find what works best for them and remember that all of us are human and are still learning
“It’s hard not to break down when people are ignorant. But you have to take care of yourself, too.”
All of the speakers on the Making Waves family panel blew me away with their strength, but this was the first time I’d heard someone speak so openly and honestly about watching a sibling struggle. Kelly’s passion and effort in helping her sister recover is incredible because it transcends caring for just her loved one—she wants to change the whole system. As a nutrition major who enjoys running, she had such a unique standpoint in her story and her words about helping her sister love exercising in a healthy way really spoke to me. Another one of her quotes she always told her sister that I will always tell myself : “Food is fuel. If you don’t eat, you cannot run”
“I worked with a therapist who reminded me ‘the only way out is working through it.’”
Another beautifully honest speaker on the panel, who also brought up the [very untrue] thought that I think about 90% of people with eating disorders have had: ”I’m not sick enough/I don’t need help/I’m not that bad/I can do this on my own”
Ultimately, though, we realize that there aren’t qualifications to be able to ask for help
‘This is a human’s disease. Eating disorders do not discriminate”
I’m so happy that this seems to be a theme that is gaining more attention (even though it still has a long way to go) and marginalized groups are getting to speak more little by little
“No matter where you are in life, there are always people who love you”
–**strongest woman ever**
This one attendee absolutely blew me away with how much pain she had been through in her past and how strong and optimistic she still was despite all of it. Inspiring
“Stay on your mat. Stay on your plate”
– Melody Moore (founder of the Embody Love movement)
I’ve always loved the ‘stay on your mat’ concept, meaning that we all need to practice focusing on ourselves and not what the people around us are doing (i.e. in the yoga studio, focus on your own pose and not whether the woman beside you can twist herself into a tighter pretzel of elegance than you.” Melody Moore’s suggestion that we practice this concept in eating is so important considering we are constantly surrounded by people who are trying new diets or trendy cleanses or talking negatively about food.
“You are amazing”
Five people told me this at the conference and this time around I’m not going to find reasons to contradict it or doubt it. I’m going to accept it and I’m going to believe it
Blogging is hard, y’all
I love being on the web and I love hearing from you and reading about your own experiences and lives (especially those of you that have blogs/instagrams of your own)
But once I step out of the writing flow it’s hard to get back into it
I wanted to update you on how life has been on Cape Cod this summer but I could babble on forever and we all know our attention spans can’t handle that because we’re the generation of Vines and skimming articles and 5-second snapchat stories (says every elderly person ever) ((that reminds me: a woman chastised me last night for looking at my phone at the beach while the sun was setting because I had to CALL MY GRANDMA about spending some QUALITY TIME WITH HER also I go to watch the sunset and FREAKING MEDITATE at the beach nearly every weekday evening lady please MIND YA BUSINESS)) ((anyways…))
Here are some scenes from my summer on the Cape so far:
Starting with being able to wake up to this view every morning
and read with my coffee on the back porch on the weekends (that turned over book is The Secret History by Donna Tartt–so good!)
Going for runs that are gorgeous but….not always the most pleasant
Making muffins (recipe which I’ve used about 4 times already coming soon!)
and punching ED in the face (with some flourless chocolate cake–store bought)
Finding gluten-free graham crackers so I can have S’mores with my best friend who is celiac
and overall knocking out the fear foods
With some amazing, amazing support
(I save every kind message I receive. You guys keep me strong)
I’ve been going on boat rides with family
Laughing hysterically at old photos (yeah, I’ve been on the right sass track from the start)
and seeing breathtaking sunsets nearly every night
plus the occasional sunrise
Wishing you all the best and I hope to be back here writing and revamping some of this website soon
- How is your summer going?