For Ashley Polson, the month of February holds special significance. As the province launched the Provincial Eating Disorders Awareness campaign, the Kelowna woman was reminded of the eating disorder that almost took her life.
“My struggle with eating disorders started when I was 16 after significant weight gain in a short amount of time due to side effects of medication,” she said.
Polson was told to exercise and diet, but developed an eating disorder instead. She began restricting food and started overexercising. She lived in a constant state of anxiety.
That’s when she turned to an online video blog to document her struggle.
“I started my online vlog because I felt it was a way I could reach out when I didn’t know who else to talk to. I didn’t expect to continue it, but after having so many responses from people thanking me for sharing my story, giving them insight into what their loved one struggled with, I felt like I was able to help others and make a difference in their lives,” she said.
One of the followers of her online video blog, ultimately saved her life.
“On the day I decided to end my life, one of them was talking with me,” she said.
“He talked me through things, got me to stop and go to the hospital, and offered to help me. As a result, my life was saved, and I was able to get treatment out of the country.”
About 1,000 young people across the province currently suffer from eating disorders.
Amy Pezzente, a coordinator from PEDAW said that by Ashley sharing her story will help their campaign.
“Someone like Ashley sharing her story brings awareness to eating disorders, reduces the stigma of mental illness.”
PEDAW began in 2003 and raises awareness around prevention and early intervention of eating disorders.
This year they’ve launched their Love Our Bodies, Love Ourselves movement and are hoping to create a DVD on eating disorders, self-esteem and body image to be sent across the province to different high schools and eating disorder programs.
Polson, who is now 29, has already shared her story in a psychology DVD and textbook used in universities across North America that helps educate people on eating disorders.
She is now in stable recovery from her eating disorder and says that she is proof that recovery from an eating disorder is possible.
“Because someone really heard me, believed in me, and gave me a chance, I am here today. Without that, I do not believe I would be where I am today.”
For more info on PEDAW’s Love Our Bodies, Love Ourselves campaign, visit their Facebook page: facebook.com/loveourbodiesloveourselves
This article was reblogged from the Kelowna Daily Courier. For more information about this article, please go to: www.kelownadailycourier.ca/local-news/giving-hope-to-those-with-eating-disorders-22513.html