When I attended the NEDA Conference in Minneapolis in 2009 I did not know anyone. I was nervous and excited. Communication online had led to this point – and now suddenly there I was, about to meet people in real life, in person. This was scary. A warm welcome swept all doubts aside as soon as I entered the conference venue. I had been assured I would not be lonely, and I was not. I had traveled all the way from Australia and was very glad I did. By the time I departed Minneapolis several days later, I had met many wonderful people. Along the way I had caught the ‘NEDA bug’ – which makes you want to keep coming back for another conference, and another.
I hasten to explain that this NEDA bug is golden-hearted. It is everything that an eating disorder is not. Such a bug helps me feel really, really good. It helps me feel safe and secure. Since 2009, I have attended NEDA conferences in New York, and Hollywood, where I presented on “Hope at Every Age’, and am counting the days until the conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC this year.
Why do I travel all the way from Australia to attend these conferences? As someone who has recovered from an eating disorder, surely an ED conference is the last sort of event I would want to go to, right? Wrong!
I love attending eating disorder conferences because they help me feel good! I am into celebrating life, and it feels good to know that people who are suffering an eating disorder today are being helped; to know that there is ongoing research, and ongoing hope; to know that there is support for both people with eating disorders and also their families and partners; and I feel good to know that wonderful organizations like NEDA help each of us feel like we are respected and connected.
Eating disorders thrive when we hide, so attending the NEDA conference is like taking out protection insurance, like receiving a booster injection, against the vagaries of ‘ED’.
New knowledge, new friends, new confidence, new coping skills, new outlook on life – these are the gems that I have found, and continue to find at each conference I attend.
Join me in Washington at the orientation meeting at 4pm on October 10th, where I will have 10 minutes to explain why meeting others with personal experience of eating disorders is important, and why the coming together of both families and professionals is enriching for all.
The NEDA conference comes with built in networking opportunities such as social events in the evening, the buddy program, the lobby day, the welcome social, the family and friends kick-off dinner, the networking social and the conference fundraiser. Believe me, you won’t feel lonely.
Regarding the conference program, I particularly look forward to the keynote presentation “What Research Can Tell Us About Eating” by Thomas Insel, MD, Director of NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health).
This year’s conference program is loaded with great speakers and helpful subjects. Choosing which sessions to attend is always fun.
This opportunity is too good to miss. Join NEDA and co-sponsors, The Academy for Eating Disorders and the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals, on Thursday, October 10th, 2013, and assemble on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC to educate members of Congress and push for important legislation.
The larger the lobby group, the more powerful the message – every person counts! Your presence and your voice can help achieve real progress.
Lobby days are not only influential but empowering, inspiring, and fun! No experience is necessary, and no one will lobby alone. This will be my first Lobby Day adventure and I look forward to meeting you there, too. Register today!
* This blog post also appears on: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/catching-neda-‘bug’