Does this feel familiar? Maybe it is the feeling of helplessness. Or the feelings of fear, confusion, and shame. These are the feelings that wash over your mind and body when you hear the doctor utter the words “eating disorder.”
Twenty-four brave contributors, many from the Dallas area, each made the decision to share personal narratives of their struggle, heartache, and victory as they faced various eating disorders in their families and in themselves. In the new book Does This Feel Familiar? these stories are arranged to provide real solutions and hope so that other families would know they are not alone in the battle against eating disorders. Each contributing author shares about their struggles and successes in a way that the reader can see his or her own story in every page. Many perspectives on this issue from mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and friends come together in one voice and Lara Lynn Bell serves as a pen name representing the individuals who made the book possible.
We asked some of the anonymous authors from Dallas to share about what made them decide to tell their private story in such a public way. Here are a few of their responses:
“This book began as a project of love and giveback believing it is our human responsibility to pay forward what one learns from life’s challenges. When our child struggled with anorexia, we fought for 10 years with the belief that full and comprehensive healing was possible. With hard work from all the family, the hope of healing proved to be real and we felt like those experiences, both dark and hopeful, were important to share.”
“I remember being asked, ‘What do you feel?’ ‘How does this make you feel?’ ‘What are you feeling?’ Most of the time I was unable to find the words to verbalize the depth of my emotion—scared, angry, frustrated, and often inept. And, at times I felt numb, blank, incapable, exposed, and honestly, there were moments I was simply just too tired to identify how I felt. I vividly remember feeling paralyzed with fear, the dark fear of losing a child. Questioning myself in uncertainty wondering, why can’t I fix my child’s eating disorder?”
“What if I could help one mom, one dad, one caretaker…really anyone who loves someone fighting an eating disorder? I desperately needed that help 14 years ago! That is why I wrote in this important book.”
“Because every story is worth being heard, simply because it can change the lives of those who share a similar story. Our heartache and times of healing are shared across worlds, there are no boundaries when It comes to making people feel like they can heal too, like someone understands their pain. We are each given a story, one that we get to choose to share or keep to ourselves, and I believe that it is our duty as humans to share, to make the path less rough for those following behind us.”
“As a twin of a precious woman who struggled with and eventually died as a result of struggling with eating disorders for half her life, I wanted to share some of the struggles I went through in attempting to help her and love her well. My hope is that in sharing what I went through, others can be enlightened and know that they are not alone on their difficult journey of loving someone with an eating disorder.”
Released in April of this year, Does This Feel Familiar? is already making an impact. Not only does it provide resources for professional help, a portion of the proceeds from its sales are dedicated to help those who cannot afford treatment.
In the end, Lara Lynn Bell and the families she represents are determined to offer real stories, real solutions, and a real lifeline to anyone who must encounter an eating disorder.
“We do not have all the answers, but we can tell you what worked and has helped our child, our entire family, and ourselves. And perhaps most importantly, this book was created to remind us all that, even in the darkest of times, it is crucial that we vigorously trust our wisdom, believing that there is always hope for whole and comprehensive healing. What does that really mean? Recovery is about allowing yourself to be human—imperfect and free from the lies of an eating disorder. Recovery is not about becoming the perfect person (or having a perfect relationship with food). Recovery is about knowing and accepting that you—whether you are a victim of an eating disorder or not—are worthy.”
If you are struggling with an eating disorder yourself or taking care of a family member who is, please visit the Does This Feel Familiar? website for more information and resources.
If you know someone who is Doing Good in Dallas, we’d love to hear about it! Share their story with us.