Monte Nido & Affiliates Regional Outreach Manager Tamie Gangloff shares her journey to becoming an eating disorder awareness advocate in this week’s blog post. Tamie discusses her personal inspiration for advocacy work and just how to get involved to use your voice as an advocate.
I hope to live in a world without eating disorders. I hope that our future generations have less stigma and better access to care. For me, advocacy is a way I can reach others and help on a much larger scale. Families, those that are struggling and those we have lost, cannot use their voices to ask for change. As a recovered woman and professional in the eating disorder field, I feel responsible to use my voice to advocate for change, to use my voice for those that cannot. I want others to know that being fully recovered is possible and that a life without an eating disorder is a reality. When I am on the Hill or at my state capitol in Harrisburg PA, I am thinking of friends and clients that I have lost, those that still struggle and the families and loved ones that walk this journey with them. I am humbled and honored to be joined by families and those that are in recovery. For those of you that do not feel that your voice is heard – what you have to say is so important and you deserve to be heard. I hope that today, you will take the risk to talk to someone about eating disorders whether it is to ask for help, raise awareness or share the message of hope.
Spring 2015 was my first time at the Eating Disorder Coalition’s Advocacy Day in Washington DC! For many years, the EDC has visited our nation’s Capitol twice per year to ask for legislation for issues including: eating disorder awareness, insurance coverage, as well as a nationally recognized eating disorders awareness week and the re-inclusion of eating disorder questions on youth risk surveys. Over this past year, I have joined a small but mighty team in Harrisburg with NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association). We have been asking for legislation to require schools to send information regarding eating disorder signs and symptoms home to families as well as an opt in for screenings in schools.
Being an advocate is an incredibly empowering experience. Being a part of a larger group brought together with a united purpose can change the world. For many of my team members, attending an advocacy day was the first time they shared their story. Last week, one of my group members was a brave high school senior that had never told her story. She was very nervous and was not sure if she would speak. We assured her that she was not obligated to speak and that, if she chose not to talk, her presence was more than enough. She felt moved to share and did so at all four of our meetings. This definitely had a great impact on our representatives and engaged them in a deeper conversation with us. Afterwards, she said that she felt empowered and that her level of shame had greatly decreased. Shame is something that many, of those with eating disorders, struggle with and I’m so thankful that she had this experience.