Skins. Sharing the Secret. For the love of Nancy. Feed. To the Bone.
These were all shows that I watched when I was stuck in my eating disorder, searching to the end of the world for someone to relate with. But the truth is- it was much harder than I thought.
You see, the media has a way of portraying eating disorders- in white, emancipated females struggling with anorexia nervosa. But I am not white or underweight, and I was struggling with bulimia (although at the time, I didn’t know that there was a name for it).
So even though I was watching these movies that were supposed to be relatable, I actually ended up feeling invalidated: like my eating disorder wasn’t real and that no one really understood what I was going through. Now take it to a year ago.
I was in a partial hospitalization facility for anxiety and my eating disorder, surrounded by people of different genders, different backgrounds, different sexualities, different stories, different views and different races- this is the moment that I realized that mental illness comes in different bodies. I remember telling my therapist how annoyed I was that it took me ending up in group therapy to feel validated and understood. When eating disorders are so commonly portrayed in the media, it should not take people years to realize that it is not a disorder for one specific
group of people. Many people have blatantly told me that “You don’t look like you have an eating disorder”, but here is the thing- you cannot tell what someone is struggling with just by looking at them. So that is why I am here- to show you mental illness comes in different bodies.
Hi- my name is Pari Kumar and I am an intern at Superbands, currently working as the blog manager. In life, one of my biggest goals is to reduce the stigma and misconceptions that come with mental illness. I believe mental illness should be viewed in the same light as a physical illness. Asking for help is one of the hardest things that a person can do and I am here to say that it is possible to ask for help; I know I did and that was how I met some of my closest friends as well
as began to understand myself and my illness. Mental illness does not discriminate based on color, age, ethnicity, wealth, sexuality, gender or any other discriminating factor. It can affect anybody, anywhere at any time!
The theme for the month of June is: Mental illness in different bodies. The point of this is to showcase the many different bodies that mental illness can come in, so you know that you are not alone. Whether it is an eating disorder, PTSD, anxiety, bipolar disorder or any other mental illness: we want to show you that you are not alone and we stand by you. As more and more people begin to share their stores and experiences about their mental health journey, we can begin to bring a sense of normalization when it comes to mental illness, medications and therapy.
One year into my mental health recovery, I am able to say that the media does not portray mental illness in a way that makes everyone feel included. But it is people like me and you that can change the way society views mental illness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pari Kumar is the current blog manager for Superbands proudly serving as a member of our 2018 team, as well as a student at The George Washington University, studying business administration with a minor in public health. Her life long dream is to open a non-profit mental health hospital that treats people who cannot afford treatment on their own. In her free time, Pari enjoys reading psychological thrillers, playing with her dog, writing and spending time in nature. She has also dealt with her fair share of mental illness struggles and feels very passionate about reducing the stigma behind mental health.
Connect with Pari via email at firstname.lastname@example.org