By: Colin DiPaola, Project HEAL Wilmington, NC
Before my wife told me that she suffered from an eating disorder I didn’t ever know how harmful they could be. In high school, boys often make fun of people for being different, and not conforming to the “expected” social stereotype. I was unaware of the effect this could have on young girls and even young guys.
When she came out and told me she had an eating disorder, my world was shaken and I was scared. I had no idea what to do. All I could think of was to comfort and love her so she knew I was there. I would soon find out that the role of the supporter was no walk-in-the-park task. Being a supporter is hard work, but in the end, can be one of the most amazing accomplishments one can have in life.
We moved to Wilmington, NC so that my wife could go to therapy and see a nutritionist that specialized in treating eating disorders. At home, I had to be like a therapist. I had to listen and not judge. I had to make sure I was encouraging without being fake. The emotional roller coaster that was my home life was tiring but fulfilling as I got to see my wife go from a few good days a month to meeting therapy and food goals on a daily basis and really finding the willpower to fight.
My eyes were opened when I had to take on this role. I had to dig down and find what was really important to me. The supporter’s job isn’t easy, and it can be very mentally tolling but seeing my beautiful wife for the first time without an eating disorder has filled me with joy and exoneration beyond compare.
In doing research and looking at the causes of eating disorders, I found some disturbing things. The main theme that I began to unveil was the terrible image that the media and the social stigma portray to our population. I have joined Project HEAL to help fight that image and to support those who need help in their recovery. I have seen my wife grow into a beautiful person on the inside, blocking out eating disorder thoughts and urges, and I know others can do the same.
With a good support team I have learned that recovery can be a lot easier than without one. It has changed my life, being able to be here for my wife through this fight, and I wouldn’t go back and do it differently. We took it one step at a time, one day at a time until she reached full recovery. She has told me that it has helped so much to have someone there for her unconditionally. I vowed to always love and to help her through hard times, and I truly lived up to those vows through this experience.