Monte Nido & Affiliates Regional Outreach Manager Tamie Gangloff, MA, MFT led the West Chester, PA NEDA Walk last year in the hope of bringing people together to raise awareness about eating disorders. In this week’s blog post, Tamie shares some of her personal journey to living a fully recovered life as well as what inspires her to walk.
Between 1995 and 2002, I went to treatment for my eating disorder several times. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would occasionally go to treatment and continue to manage until I would inevitably fall apart and need to go to treatment yet again… that belief changed in fall 2002. I was sitting in day treatment, listening to a woman speak about her devastating battle with her eating disorder and her recovery. This woman had fully recovered! She described a full life with love, work, play and family. The woman sitting before me was truly recovered in every aspect of her life including her relationship with food and her body. At that moment, my life changed. I made the decision to do whatever I could and whatever was suggested to me because I knew that I too could have that same full and free life.
Several years into my recovery, I started to speak out and talk about my struggles, but more importantly, my recovery. I wanted everyone to know that recovering was arduous and painful but not as painful as staying sick. I wanted them to know, if they did the work, they could also be recovered. I wanted to bust the myth that someone with an eating disorder will always be ‘in recovery’ and have to work hard at it everyday to merely “manage” it. That is not my truth or the truth of the many colleagues and former clients that live lives free of an eating disorder; where it is truly a thing of the past.
I walk because there is hope and, if I don’t walk, someone may not hear that message of hope that they need to hear. I walk for those that we have lost in this battle, including my friends and former clients. I walk for our youth! Last year, my family attended the walk and my niece was thrilled to be a part of it. She loved carrying the banner and being front and center in the walk selfie. While we were walking, I asked her what she learned that day. She said that she learned that she is beautiful and that everyone is beautiful. I walk so that my niece and nephew can live in a world without eating disorders.
I have been blessed to create and participate in countless eating disorder awareness events over the years. Last year, was my first year as the walk coordinator for the West Chester PA NEDA Walk. It meant so much to me because I struggled terribly with alcoholism and an eating disorder when I was a student at West Chester University. At that time, there was very little awareness or support for eating disorders. I’m so grateful to be able to help raise awareness so that others do not have to struggle as I did. We have many volunteers and attendees from WCU and I want them to know that there is hope.
I am grateful to work with many volunteers that are recovered or are new to working in the field of treating eating disorders. It is an honor to be able to mentor and work with these men and women. Remembering the walk from last year, I recall that there were several people who reached out for support and were able to get help for their eating disorders. That is what this is about. For one morning, an amazing group of people take a pause from their lives and join in our family to learn more about eating disorders, share resources, support one another, give hugs, sip coffee, stroll through the park and share hope. If just one person learns something new, feels supported and feels hope, then I have done my job!
The 4th Annual West Chester PA NEDA Walk is Saturday, November 5th! I hope you will join us! If you are interested in attending, please visit the West Chester PA NEDA Walk site. If you have any questions, contact me at email@example.com.