(BPT) - Savannah Kerr battled anorexia for 18 years before she hit rock bottom and decided that it was finally time to seek treatment.
"Suffering from an eating disorder was so hard, not just on me, but my family as well. It felt like having this dark part of my personality that controlled what I could eat and how I felt about my body," Kerr said.
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses; almost one person an hour dies as a direct result from the disease. While it is estimated that up to 30 million people in the United States currently suffer from one of these illnesses, it is an issue that remains a taboo topic.
"Eating disorders can impact anyone-men and women, young and old, and all economic classes and races. Despite the high mortality rate, there is still a stigma and many people avoid seeking treatment and are unaware of how serious and life-altering eating disorders can be," said Ken Weiner, founding partner and chief executive officer of Eating Recovery Center.
Eating disorders can threaten a person's health, well-being, joy, confidence and overall life, as well as that of their families and friends.
Talking: the first step
Despite the pervasiveness of eating disorders, many myths about eating disorders continue to persist. A common misconception is that eating disorders are caused by an issue with food alone when, in fact, they are often caused by a desire to control or seek relief from painful emotions and experiences. They can develop due to a person's genetic makeup, or by environmental factors like stress.
However, as widespread as these illnesses are, recovery is possible.
"Getting treatment was one of the hardest challenges I've ever gone through, but was more rewarding than I could have ever expected," Kerr said. "People go into treatment thinking that they can't do it, but if you give it a try and succeed, you'll never want to go back."
On May 3, Eating Recovery Center, a healthcare system dedicated to providing the best care in the treatment of serious eating disorders, will bring stories of recovery to the forefront with the first-ever Eating Recovery Day. People can join the conversation on social media by using #EatingRecoveryDay.
"To make an impactful change, it is imperative to build awareness and create better understanding that recovery is possible through proper treatment," Weiner said.
Using social channels to educate patients and families and to shift the public's perception of eating disorders, the goal of the campaign is to encourage self-acceptance and create a dialogue that is both hopeful and empowering.
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