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NEDAwareness Day 5: FREED Act


One of the biggest challenges of recovery for many people, especially men, is gaining access to treatment.  I have spoken much about this in previous posts; however, I believe it is an extremely important issue.  Access to treatment is hindered by an immense number of things; however, one of the biggest roadblocks is simply insurance companies and stigma associated with Eating Disorders.

Many insurance companies have zero or limited coverage for eating disorders and/or mental illness.  For example, my prior insurance company gave me a grand total of 10 days inpatient care and 10 days partial-hospitalization.  Those twenty days combined would have not even have been enough to get me to a “safe weight.”  In fact, 20 days into treatment I was still fighting hard to lose more weight, hiding food in couches, and lying to my treatment team.  Twenty days was enough for me to realize how hard it was to change and not want to put the effort in.  Twenty days in treatment, for me, was insufficient to even scratch the surface of my anorexia.  Twenty days was a death sentence.

It was due to the grace of God and the hard work of my family, fiance, and friends and flexibility from Roger’s Memorial, that I was able to remain in treatment.  They fundraised money through Samaritan Cards, helped me apply for scholarships, and talked with local churches.  While they were able to obtain enough money to keep me in treatment until my professional treatment team deemed me ready to discharge we are still paying off that debt.  I truly owe my life to their hard work and appreciate them every day for the sacrifices they made for me to be sitting here writing this today.

This is why I am passionate about the FREED Act.

What is the FREED Act?  It stands for the Federal Response To Eating Disorders Act and the premise is providing insurance coverage to those who need hospitalization and treatment for their eating disorder.  There are many facets to the Act and the basic summary can be found by clicking here.  Basically the Act would mandate that any insurance company that provides coverage for physical illness would also need to provide coverage for mental illness.  It is also the beginning of ending the stigma associated with Eating Disorders.

The problem with mental illness is the stigma associated with them.  Many people choose to believe that an Eating Disorder is a choice and that one just has to “choose to eat.”  Those people could not be more wrong.  An eating disorder is a combination of triggers, childhood experiences, daily struggles, and more the form together to create the mental illness.  Research studies have indicated that after a certain point brain chemistry begins to change as well further promoting the eating disorder.

A cancer patient is never accused of choosing to have cancer.  A person with quadriplegia is never told to “just walk.”  A person with diabetes is never told “just eat the doughnut, you’ll be fine.”  

Then why am I accused that I have chosen anorexia and I need to just eat and I’ll be fine.

Those people could not be more wrong.  I did not choose anorexia.  I do not choose to struggle daily with eating.  I do not choose to have a warped body image.  I did not choose to hate myself on such a deep level that I felt disappearing was better than facing my fears and inner demons.  I did not choose it so stop accusing me.  

It is time that the world recognizes that Eating Disorders are a mental illness.  They are real and are affecting thousands more people each and every day.  The only way to over come an eating disorder is with professional treatment.  For some, outpatient treatment is sufficient.  Others are able to enter recovery with partial-hospitalization.  Others, and a growing number, need access to in-patient and residential care.  Eating disorders come in all shapes, sizes, and stages; just like every other illness.  Cancer is separated into Stage 1,2,3,4,5 based on severity.  Eating Disorders have levels to even if they are currently unrecognized.  

Now, take a stand with me.  Take a Leap with me and raise awareness of the FREED Act and fight for everyone who wants to be Free to live their life.

Follow this link to watch a video of why many people support the FREED Act.