There are the atrocities others inflict upon women around the world. And then there are the atrocities women inflict upon themselves. As I was contemplating my story, I thought mine wasn’t as important as the stories women from dangerous parts of the world have so bravely shared on PulseWire. But then I realized that my story is part of an epidemic amongst women, one that is often laughed at, ignored, or misunderstood, but needs to be taken seriously and solved. For those reasons, I must share my story...not just for me, but for the millions of women who have, or are currently, suffering as I did.

I am speaking of eating disorders. They start in different ways and for different reasons, but eventually grow into an all-consuming monster that feeds upon our bodies and minds. I suffered from anorexia, and then later bulimia, for almost seven years and then still struggled with my view of food and myself for an additional five years. That accounts for more than one-third of my life. Twelve years that I could have achieved more, nourished myself more, LIVED more, instead of the hell I put myself through.

Many people think eating disorders only affect the rich, bored, weak, or self-absorbed. I don’t blame them. If you have a healthy relationship with your body and self-image, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like. However, people need to realize this is a serious, sometimes deadly, disease that leaves deep emotional mental trauma long after the body recovers. An eating disorder is not like alcoholism or drug addiction. One can abstain from alcohol or drugs, but not from food. I think this is why eating disorders are particularly difficult to overcome.

Society and the media hold women up to impossible standards. We are bombarded with images of thin, beautiful women with no flaws, the Perfect Woman. That to be loved, desired, and successful, you must look like this, act like this. From the time we are little girls, we hear these messages, see these images, and collect them within ourselves, storing them until we are old enough to use them. It is disturbing that girls of younger and younger years look at themselves and see ugliness, imperfection. They deny themselves food so that they will one day be loved.

I hope to be one of the Voices of Our Future, helping women create a healthy relationship with food and with themselves. I see PulseWire as an opportunity to support other women and create an open dialogue, thereby improving our self-image and how we treat ourselves. I want to discuss what real food is, how it can heal us, and how through nourishing our bodies, we can nourish our souls and heal our wounds. I want us to become Whole Women...again, or for the first time in our lives.

Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Your Journey and Vision.

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Kristin, how eloquently you've revealed the quiet epidemic in North American society. My intellectually and athletically gifted step-granddaughter was diagnosed with anorexia seven years ago at age twelve. She remains unhealed and the situation has destroyed the family. I embrace you for having survived and being willing to unmask this bizarre phenomenon as one who has served in the trenches.

+++Merle

Your comments truly touched me, I am so sorry your step-granddaughter is still suffering as well as your family. If I can help women and girls become whole again, it will have made everything I went through worth it. I hope that VOF can help me do that. My thoughts are with you and let me know if there's anything I can do.

www.WordsAreFood.com Nutrition for Body and Mind

Kristin, thank you. By sharing your story on PulseWire, you're helping me and others immeasurably. Isn't it ironic that in a world of so much physical famine, the West is experiencing spiritual/emotional famine of so very many of its precious citizens in the form of anorexia.

+++Merle

Thank you for your support, Merle, I am beginning to explore how I can make my mission a reality. How are the support resources for eating disorders in Canada? Do these diseases also not receive the attention they deserve in the media?

I do agree with you about the differences in "famine."

In sisterhood, Kristin

www.WordsAreFood.com Nutrition for Body and Mind

Kristen, thanks for having the courage to share your story. Your ability to grow beyond a personal crisis sets such a healthy and powerful example for other girls and women who are suffering. I just checked out your WordsAreFood website, and it seems as if you are already using the Web to work on dialogues and help others facing what you've gone through. I'd have liked to read more about how you put your experience into positive and specific action for change. Great job, and keep up the important work!

Thank you for your comments Rebecca, and I'm happy that you enjoyed browsing my website. I have only recently discovered my mission to help women conquer eating disorders and self-esteem issues, so as of yet, I do not have any examples of how I have turned my experience into positive change, other than what I am doing on PulseWire. In my journal entry "Creating Change, One Step at a Time," I detail specific actions that I plan to take for my cause. I would be interested in hearing your response to that post!

www.WordsAreFood.com Nutrition for Body and Mind

Kristen, Allow me to introduce myself, I am one of the voices of the future listeners. I am here to help in any way I can, so feel free to ask questions. Overall, your piece was well written and poignant. Your story is powerful and do not think that it is any less important because you live in the West. All countries have their personal issues that are deleterious in their own unique way. Your story is compelling and important for women the world over. Trust me, woman are bombarded with these images of perfection in Africa, South America, or Europe as well. You have a strong voice and show true leadership quality. I look forward to reading more of your work and will try to check out your blog. Kudos for a job well done. Terri

I am grateful for your critique Terri, and I appreciate you validating my story. Before applying for VOF, I had started to write a collection of essays that show my journey from the dark depths of my eating disorders to my current balanced, healthy viewpoint on life. The goal was to help women and teens, and those who love them, deal with this disease and give them hope. The weekly VOF assignments have pushed me to really explore other ways I can make a difference, and I have grown even more passionate about my mission. I am excited to start implementing my action steps, and whether or not I make it into the program, I am determined to make a difference!

www.WordsAreFood.com Nutrition for Body and Mind