I am no stranger to NEDA Walks. I have been to almost ten of them in the past 3 years alone. They are some of the most inspirational events I have ever attended and the speakers always have such wonderful things to say. But more important are the people you see there. There are people with memorial shirts and signs that have lost loved ones to eating disorders, there are survivors (often with family and friends), and there are professionals there. The mix is interesting. And the vibe at each one can vary. This walk however was very different for me. This was the first walk where I knew that I didn't look like a scared little girl with an eating disorder. I looked healthy and happy and was cartwheeling everywhere (I know I am like 5 years old, whatever). You would think that this would make feel SO proud of myself. And it did. Partially. But it also brought up a lot of other feelings for me. I felt uncomfortable. Like I wasn't supposed to be there. Like I was a fake. Treatment centers were handing me cards and asking where I had gone instead of them. But none of them showed genuine interest in treating me. And in came that little voice in the back of my head saying "of course they don't look interested...you aren't skinny anymore". I would be lying if I said that I didn't consider believing that it was right. The thing is though that at that moment I was standing in between one of my best friends and my dietitian. Two people that have truly helped me get this far. I can't relapse. I would lose so much. The thing about NEDA Walks is that as inspirational and motivating as they can be, they present an unusual challenge that other charity walks don't; competitiveness among the walkers. The supporters don't feel it. Most professionals don't feel it. But the people struggling do. I always do. The looking around to see who is sicker than you are. The sideways glances to figure out who is struggling. Eating disorders love competition. And a walk full of people and the theme of it... well it's like the equivalent of putting an alcoholic in a bar. I don't really know how I feel about this walk. I was inspired. I was triggered. I went through like 30 emotions. I had fun. All in all I am very glad I went. And I highly encourage everyone to attend a walk or any other NEDA event. You meet some of the strongest people at those things. And you get to learn about yourself too.
Don't be afraid to be with people that suffer too but don't let it affect your recovery negatively either.