Come as You Are
Camille Williams, MA, LCPC, Eating Disorder Program Coordinator
The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) decided on the theme “Come as You Are” for this year’s awareness week in February. This theme advocates for all to be included in the conversation and supported around eating disorder (ED) recovery. It inspires authenticity and acceptance of the diversity in these types of disorders. And, at Timberline Knolls we were also inspired to spread the message around our campus.
Authenticity is a vital aspect of recovery and one that is difficult to connect with because a part of it means accepting flaws and struggles. Shame is usually overpowering and leaves people to cover up, deny, ignore, and mask the parts of self that feel “unacceptable”. This is also what keeps people stuck in their struggles and in their shame. To break this pattern and cycle those in recovery must be open, honest, and vulnerable.
During NEDA week, we practiced new ways of living authentically with the following activities:
- We encouraged residents to find their voice in recovery by writing a declaration of independence from their EDs. They were able to hold hope for what the future can look like when truly being authentic rather than consumed by their ED. The picture is of the declaration of independence from ED written by the residents of TK and created by ED Specialist, Mikayla Kendal.
- Speakers came to campus to share their truth through recovery stories. This provided hope for those in the early stages of recovery and also demonstrated authenticity that recovery is not perfect and it is not easy. The speakers were able to share their words to inspire others while also remaining honest and true to self in their continuous recovery journey.
- We invited all of campus, staff and residents, to consider their relationship with make-up and try going make-up free to for the week. Do I wear make-up because that is the only way I can feel pretty? Is that something I must do to feel accepted and good enough? We focused on letting inner beauty shine with a make-up free challenge. This encouraged exploration of values and how inner beauty is really what makes a person shine. And if make-up is used as a way of expressing authentic self then we welcomed the use of make-up. We wanted to challenge our campus to increase awareness and try an exposure that focuses on inner worth and beauty.
- In Self-Image therapy groups, we focused on authenticity by exploring acceptance. Every individual had an opportunity to explore what authenticity and acceptance meant to them and write or draw a word or symbol on a stone. These stones were placed throughout campus as a way of spreading the message of authenticity and sharing a part of true self with others. This invited a willingness to be seen and to see others as they are.
- In Recovery Education ED groups, we spread facts and myths about eating disorders around campus. These disorders are widely misunderstood due to pervasive stigmas and conflicting messages about food and body image in our society. To help increase education and awareness, information was shared with the campus so all have an opportunity to learn and to continue sharing truth. As more people become aware of EDs, it will be easier for those struggling to seek support and get the help they need.
NEDA reminds us to “come as we are, not as we think we should be.” We hope that this message can continue to result in growth and authenticity.
TK Contributor: As the Timberline Knolls Eating Disorder Program Coordinator, Camille Williams MA, NCC, LCPC, supports the development of curriculum, supervises the eating disorder specialists, and provides group therapy. She also educates and trains all staff on campus and advocates for eating disorder awareness through publications. Timberline Knolls serves as an iaedp™Presidents Council Member.
*The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders and not intended as endorsement by iaedp Foundation, Inc. or its Board of Directors.*