WordPress does this really cool thing where it shows you how people stumbled upon your blog, which is admittedly kind of fun. It shows how many hits came from whatever website (from Facebook to Twitter to other blogs) as well as what search engine terms might have brought someone here.
Recently, a search engine phrase brought someone to my tiny corner of the internet that left me quite surprised and alarmed. The search was “are eating disorders real.” What this says to me, friends, is that we still have a lot of work to do.
If there is someone out there who is so unexposed to the reality of these life-threatening illnesses that they would question whether or not they even exist, then that tells me we need to do more to make that reality known.
The surest and quickest way to do that in my eyes is working with the Eating Disorders Coalition to help pass the FREED Act (The Federal Response to the Elimination of Eating Disorders), which I mentioned in a previous post. Out of any other health conditions, no one is asking questions like:
Is diabetes real?
Is schizophrenia real?
Is autism real?
Is alcoholism real?
Of course they aren’t. Though plenty of people may lack a deep or legitimate understanding of a given health condition, there are few which plague so many people in our society where someone wouldn’t readily be able to say “Sure, that’s a real thing.”
So why the FREED Act? FREED will help ensure the federal recognition of eating disorders as the public healthy priority that they need to be. In 2005:
Roughly 10 million people suffered from eating disorders, and about $12 million was spent on eating disorder research.
In that same year, 4.5 million people (less than half than those effected by ED) suffered from Alzheimer’s, and about $647 million was spent on Alzheimer’s research. (Source)
I’m not usually one to throw out a ton of statistics, but those numbers are appalling. FREED seeks to close that disparity and finally spend more than $1.25 per person for research. Until we have better numbers through comprehensive research to reflect how widespread and severe eating disorders are, we will have a harder time getting people (and insurance companies) to take them seriously.
So, what can you, or anyone, do about this? Come to Capitol Hill and lobby with the EDC. I started going in 2007, and I’ve gone twice a year ever since. It’s easily one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, and it’s an opportunity to make a difference for literally millions of people. The next Lobby Day is October 4th, 2011. If you’ve been effected by an eating disorder in some way,whether personally or someone you care about, then you’re already fully qualified to participate!
We can achieve the goal of eliminating eating disorders. But we need more voices to come and witness to Congress that this is the right and necessary thing to do. I’ll be writing more about my personal experiences lobbying soon. In the meantime, I hope you’ll consider coming to Washington, DC to help FREED become a reality.