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Knowing about OA

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A doctor, a nutritionist, and a weight loss clinic gave me three opportunities to carry the OA message of recovery while maintaining the Traditions. What a gift.

Several years ago, my nutritionist, who had not worked with anyone with food addiction prior to me, asked me to talk to a group of medical students as part of their nutrition curriculum. I explained that I needed to go by first name only since I would be speaking about my recovery in Overeaters Anonymous. I shared with the students some of my story and how working with a nutritionist had helped me define a food plan and begin to learn how to eat normally. I also shared an experience I had many years prior with a well-meaning physician (with a heart of gold) who said I’d be very attractive if I lost about 25 pounds (11 kg). I shared how that statement fueled my already low self-esteem and shame. The students asked several questions, and I distributed some OA pamphlets for professionals. I did my best to abide by the Traditions and carry the message.

Another opportunity I had to share about OA was with a doctor who gave me a colonoscopy. His protocol required two days of no food except clear liquids. I felt terrified about going that long without food, and the thought flew into my head that I would relapse or have a lot of problems afterwards. I spoke with my sponsor and another friend who’d had the same procedure, and their experience required only one day of preparation. I contacted the doctor and explained that I would be unable to go two days without eating due to recovery from an eating disorder. He explained that if my digestive tract was not fully empty, then I would have to do it again. I said I understood, and I decided to follow the one-day regimen. Everything went beautifully. I brought an OA pamphlet to the procedure and gave it to him afterwards, sharing that it might be helpful. Following through took a lot of courage.

Lastly, a hospital with a weight-loss clinic for the severely obese asked my local OA intergroup to provide program information and speakers. The clinic requires their patients to attend a support group both before and after their procedures. The lead doctor believes that offering information on eating disorders and Twelve Step recovery gives patients more support and a better chance at success. This service opportunity was well received, and today, we have some OA members who have undergone procedures at the clinic and can now share their experience, strength, and hope as OA members about how OA has helped with the underlying issues in their lives.

As a dear friend of mine shared, “Even experts in the medical fields are not capable of knowing about everything.”

We all need one another to share experience, strength, and hope. These opportunities have been beneficial both for me, my intergroup, and the various folks receiving OA’s public information. Recovery is all about carrying the message.

— Melissa H., Ardmore, Tennessee USA

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