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Giving back to a specific community seems to be the next natural step after going through a difficult time related to that cause. This is particularly true if that same community supported you during your time of need. The eating disorder community is no different, and volunteers of many eating disorder-focused organizations are primarily those who have suffered themselves.
Why Take Part in Eating Disorder Advocacy?
Taking part in eating disorder advocacy is a great way to provide compassionate care and support to others whose experiences you can relate to.
Throughout recovery and beyond, you may find yourself inspired to help out and provide the support you know is desperately needed, especially during Dating Disorder Awareness Week.
The Rewards of Eating Disorder Advocacy
Volunteering at an eating disorder or mental health-focused organization can take on many forms. Some ways to advocate include:
- Writing for online magazines (like Libero Magazine!)
- Providing support at a call center
- Getting involved in local government
- Planning fundraisers and awareness events
- Joining in on social media campaigns
In my line of work, I’ve had many opportunities to take part in these types of experiences. For me, eating disorder advocacy has been rewarding, both personally and professionally.
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What Are the Risks of Eating Disorder Advocacy?
Despite all of these positives, eating disorder advocacy can be risky. I encourage you to think deeply and reflect on your recovery and where you are at to determine if taking part in advocacy is a positive next step for you.
Jumping into the world of eating disorder advocacy and hearing difficult stories of those living with eating disorders can be incredibly triggering.
This is particularly true if you don’t yet feel well-rooted in your recovery.
Juggling your own emotions with the emotions of those you are trying to advocate for or support can be complicated.
Add to that your new responsibilities as a volunteer, and it can become overwhelming.
When is the Right Time to Become an Eating Disorder Advocate?
How can you juggle giving back to the eating disorder community while preserving your mental health and recovery? Here are some points I’d like you to consider before you make a decision:
#1 Assess where you are at in your recovery.
Does this spot feel just comfortable enough but like there may be room to grow? Are you feeling stable after working on eating disorder recovery for a while?
There is no right or wrong answer here. Remember, there is nothing wrong with deciding to push off volunteering a bit longer. That option will always be there for you as organizations are always seeking help.
#2 Do you understand your relapse red flags?
What are the first signs you might be slipping back? It’s essential to have a good sense of what these are so you can recognize them and take action early.
If you are already volunteering and notice a red flag pop up, remember that your volunteer team or supervisors will understand if you need to step back.
Related: Creating a Relapse Prevention Plan
#3 Consider what you will do as an eating disorder advocate.
As mentioned above, there are so many ways to give back and engage with an eating disorder-focused organization.
Within these many roles, some are potentially more triggering than others. For example, writing a blog post or helping plan events differs from sharing your story or providing support on a hotline.
Consider what type of activities might feel safest for you.
#4 Put yourself first.
Of course, volunteering is all about focusing on others, but there is no harm or shame in prioritizing your own eating disorder recovery. Remember, you cannot help others if you don’t help yourself first.
I hope you will consider these questions, and when it feels like the right time for you, I hope you will extend a helping hand to those who need it most.
There are so many great organizations you can connect with both locally and online (us here at Libero Magazine being one of them! Learn More!)
Not only will you learn a lot, but you will be rewarded and reminded of why you made it through recovery.
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Olivia Cupido is a registered dietitian and founder of OG Nutrition in Toronto. She is passionate about helping others foster healthy relationships with food and their bodies. Olivia helps her clients return to the importance of connection, culture, enjoyment and self-care in food and eating.
SITE DISCLAIMER: The opinions and information shared in this article or any other Content on our site may not represent that of Libero Network Society. We hold no liability for any harm that may incur from reading content on our site. Please always consult your own medical professionals before making any changes to your medication, activities, or recovery process. Libero does not provide emergency support. If you are in crisis, please call 1-800-784-2433 or another helpline or 911.