|Tsunnami waters advance over Japan (source).|
This week I was blessed to chat with a church friend face-to-face about some of my eating disorder experience, which is a rare thing. I'm used to the safe distance of the internet, so having a live, in-person discussion was a little scary -- but also very healing. However, a little ways into our chat, I find myself playing down the legitimacy of my eating disorder and verbally beating myself up right in front of my friend, talking about how it was so horrible of me to talk about my struggle with an eating disorder (the "it's all in your head" gimmick rose to the front of my mind as I said this) when there are people in the world dying of starvation. And that was before Japan got hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami.
While I was trolling the blogosphere this morning, I clicked through to Clare's latest post -- and found that this week she was dealing with the same lie from ED that I was. In Clare's case, the eating disordered part of her brain was using the horrible disaster in Japan to downplay her own struggle for health and healing. Insidious, right?
Is there any point in comparing our suffering? Not in the least. (Now, if only I can remember this the next time that ED decides to smack me around using someone else's pain. Easier said than done, I know!)
Think of it this way -- would you tell a person who has cancer that her cancer is no biggie because someone else has worse cancer? Or because hundreds of thousands of people live in poverty? Or because there is an AIDS epidemic in Africa?
Of course not. Cancer is cancer. Suffering is suffering. Illness is illness -- including mental illness.
I am not trying to downplay the significance of the AIDS epidemic or of global poverty. But, as Clare wrote, it helps no one to use the suffering of others to negate our own struggles. Don't let ED tell you that your struggle isn't "big enough" or "bad enough" to matter. Would you tell that to a malnourished orphan in the Congo?
I thought not.
Check out Clare's post for ways to donate to the rescue and aid efforts in Japan. To help African orphans, click here, and to help children everywhere, click here. To find help being kind to yourself, click here.