Sometimes the darkest moment can be a catalyst for light. At the 2010 AED Salzburg ICED four members of the AED Patient-Carer Committee – Kitty Westin, Laura Collins, Carrie Arnold and myself — were eating lunch outside at a sidewalk café when news came through that Erin, the daughter of fellow PCC member Joan Riederer, had died from Anorexia Nervosa.
Kitty was very upset and was struggling to regain her composure. She was scheduled to present as a plenary speaker in the next 30 minutes. I rummaged in my shoulder bag seeking a tissue. Instead, I pulled out a sock belonging to my daughter Amanda, who was back home in Australia. The sock was far from sparkling white (it had got mixed up with grandchildren’s clothes after a visit, and had hitched a ride to Salzburg).
Kitty took the sock gratefully. The padded anklet sport sock was soft and ‘squeeze-able’. Kitty dabbed her eyes and clutched the sock. Somehow it gave comfort. When Kitty walked on the stage, the sock went too, providing her with the strength to deliver an excellent talk. After the conference, the sock hitched another ride, this time to the USA, to accompany Kitty to Erin’s funeral. The sock, an ordinary, every day object, has emerged through this series of tragic, serendipitous and poignant events associated with the loss of Erin’s life, as a symbol that has become known as Sockit to Ed.
The field of eating disorders has long needed a global symbol to raise eating disorders awareness. Many diseases are signified by ribbons or by plastic bracelets. The unlikely sock is becoming a unifying symbol. From the small, global circle of key stakeholders who attended the AED 2010 Salzburg ICED news of this symbol has spread to Beat in the U.K., the National Eating Disorders Organization (NEDA) in the U.S., the Butterfly Foundation in Australia and additional countries – the list is growing daily. These groups are interested in helping to establish Socket to ED as a global symbol.
The sock is a unique symbol. It is at first incongruous, unexpected. Unlike a ribbon or bracelet, this symbol stands out, arousing and increasing curiosity in the media and among the public. You can help it signify awareness of the full range of eating disorders.
Like the global nature of eating disorders, all cultures use some form of sock. Everyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or religion, uses socks. Similarly, eating disorders can affect anyone of any age, gender, ethnicity or religion. One is an unacknowledged ‘creature’ of comfort, the other an often-unacknowledged mental illness.
Erin’s mother, Joan, has become the driving force behind Sockit to ED. Here is a special message for you from Joan:
I dedicate this video to you and your loved ones who have suffered with the monster we call eating disorders. My heartfelt thank you to all. Please share as you like. I wanted to share the extent of how far and wide the campaign has travelled making the video over nine minutes long. I am working on a shorter version.
You’re going to like it!
The first global advocacy project to raise awareness, provide support and raise funds for eating disorders. Get on board!