Poetry and song help healing and keep advocacy wheels turning
Often we might wonder if what we do, really matters. Working on World Eating Disorders Action Day has mattered, and will continue to matter…because we, and others who come on board for however long on this journey, will make it matter. Being a member of the steering committee for this amazing, first-ever, World Eating Disorders Day on June 2 has been all-consuming for past six months…an amazing experience in grassroots advocacy at its best.
We will keep the wheels turning. Forward. Forward. Forward. Everyone can help, including you. Every day, I hear from people around the world who are finding creative ways in their own quiet way, to show ‘Ed’ (the eating disorder) in a very loud way, that they are not afraid, and want to give others hope.
I share messages from Anne, in USA, and Lilac, in the UK, here. Anne has found creative release in poetry. Lilac has found her release in song. Enjoy.
Anne shares three poems
My poem about Amy is not about any one person, but rather a composite of several women, both young and not so young that I knew and cared about during my long stay in, or living near, an ED treatment center more than 17 years ago.
Amy is a tribute to that time and to the spirit of the people that filled it and whose love helped me heal. It is a message of hope I want to send to other people like Amy all over the world with whom I have been privileged to share my writings over the years.
You and I are not alone in our fight against EDs. This first World Eating Disorders Action Day proves that all around our planet people are there to offer help and support, who care and understand what we either are going through or have gone through.
What hope there is, in knowing this! Blessings to all who read or hear this.
by Anne Edwards
I have a friend named Amy.
We met many years ago
in an eating disorder treatment center.
For the most part,
against all odds,
but, while she does have her good times,
Amy is still struggling.
Amy has a husband,
and is a talented artist
with a beautiful soul.
Amy is in her forties now.
ED has been a leech
slowly sucking away at her life
since she was a teenager.
But, my friend Amy is a fighter!
She attends a support group,
sees a therapist,
works in her garden,
takes long walks
and worships her God.
One way or another,
be it through an after care program,
supportive family and friends,
or therapy animals,
Amy will win this battle.
ED will not be able to stand
against her fighting spirit
and her loving heart.
They are forever.
He is not.
Our precious stranger within
Precious Stranger is a poem I wrote just before admission to a treatment center. As sick and desperate as I realize now that I was, some deeper part of me must have flowed through my writing telling me that there was a me, the real Anne, that was still inside, a me bigger than ED, a me that could still be reborn and live apart from ED. That reality exists inside all of us. There is a precious stranger inside everyone who struggles with an eating disorder and that precious person doesn’t need to keep being a stranger. I want people to realize this and get to know the self they truly are beyond ED.
by Anne Edwards
so poignantly familiar.
through my heart.
My mind searches,
closes the chasm.
once a part
of my being.
Across eternity return.
Healing words can flow
I wrote Ebb Tide while in a treatment center for anorexia. Angry and very sick, I got off to a bad start, but I wanted to help people instead of being helped. For the first time in seven years, I wanted to succeed, to recover. Then, three good friends I had made left and I couldn’t, then, I had to have surgery. I fell into a depression and started to backslide. One night in music therapy, I wrote Ebb Tide. The healing words just flowed from within me. It was instantly popular with other patients and staff. My spirits buoyed, I was able to get back on the recovery road again. I owe a lot of my recovery to this poem and I’ve been writing ever since. Now, I’d like to share my “debut” poem with all of you.
by Anne Edwards
People come and go
Into my life,
Touch it deeply,
Then like the ocean waves,
Leaving me as empty as the beach.
But other waves
Come and go,
Taking bits of sand, shells, debris
Always loving caress
Of the waves.
Souls touching souls
Smiles and hugs through tears
Sharing the hope,
Note: Read more of Anne’s poems in my upcoming book, Using Writing as a Therapy for Eating Disorders — The Diary Healer.
This book, which is about writing a journal or diary to help connect with your true self, includes an entire chapter on poetry.
Besides Anne’s delightful, insightful poems, it includes many examples of creative expression by others who have experienced an eating disorder.
Turning experience into advocacy
Lilac Sheer provides this message:
Reflecting on the first World Eating Disorders Awareness Day, I want to share some of my experiences within this context.
During the 20 years I took to heal from my eating disorder, I experienced different cycles within the disorder, like anorexia, bulimia, exercise bulimia, chewing and spitting, severe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and possibly more.
There were two major contributors to my healing:
- Intensive, versatile and integrative long-term therapy.
- Experiencing true unconditional love.
I can easily attribute 80 per cent of my healing process to therapy. I can also confirm I probably would have struggled with the last 20 per cent if not for my partner, through whom I was able to see myself for the first time in an unconditional light.
However, I doubt I would have been able to find unconditional love, had I not undergone appropriate treatment to deal with the issues that led me there in the first place.
It is difficult to see people these days still viewing EDs as a ‘technical’ problem.
This dark hole is so hollow and deep, and the mental issues behind it (which will bring anyone to deny themselves of such a basic human need with such strong conviction) are so severely intense, that it is not only atrocious, but disrespectful to the core, for anyone to treat this condition with anything less than the utmost seriousness and attention.
I also believe that because EDs usually start at earlier ages, it is naive to believe it all resonates independently from within the diseased, without looking at the surroundings and past experiences which may or may not have led directly, or contributed to the condition. Many times, understanding that one’s entire household needs attention and possibly treatment, along with, or even more so, than the person with the illness, will be the key to healing.
I support this new global organisation’s determination to call for proper education regarding EDs, and send the message loud and clear, that eating disorders are mental and fundamental, and cannot be ignored.
Lilac is a passionate singer-songwriter, currently rising on the US FMQB A/C chart with her song Queen of Hollywood. She is open about her past struggles with eating disorders, about which she wrote her song Ana. Her album A Different Country drops July 18, 2016. Lilacsheer.com
Join Anne and @LilacSheer in supporting World Eating Disorders Action Day. Be sure to follow along on twitter @WorldEDDay and hashtag #WeDoAct, #WorldEDActionDay, @WorldEatingDisordersAction on Instagram and World Eating Disorders Action Dayon Facebook
Action you can take today:
- Share the NINE Truths PSA https://youtu.be/YrgrIts5WV8created by cast and crew of To The Bone.
- Take the PLEDGE and encourage your followers to do so as well: http://worldeatingdisordersday.org/take-the-pledge/