On January 22nd of this year, Something for Kelly Foundation founder Patti Geolat hosted a small fundraising event at her home in Dallas. The goal was to bring attention to eating disorders as actual illnesses affecting more than just Caucasian women.
“I love the fact that our group was as diverse as it became,” says Geolat. “We had 25 people there, and every minority, religion, creed — almost every demographic was in my home. You could understand that in an audience of 500, but to have that in such a small gathering tells me we’re reaching out to the right groups. Until we have totally smashed this profile that eating disorders are a rich white girl disease and a choice; until we can bring both of those down, people are going to keep hearing me talk about it. I don’t hear enough discussion about it. Where is the action to follow the rhetoric?”
Our featured guest speaker at the event was Malak Saddy, dietician for The Center for Discovery, a personalized treatment facility located in a Dallas residential community.
“The Center for Discovery is intimate and individualized” explains Saddy. “The client gets 3 sessions a week, one family session, and even a dietary session with the family. We’re not just a business, it’s on a much deeper level. Everyone’s home life is different, so why would we treat everyone the same? We are literally in a house, so it feels homey and realistic. It’s very warm, not cold and spartan.”
“I think that Malak is such a beautiful soul” says Geolat. “She had everyone totally captivated by the story of her family. She’s poignant, funny, witty and relevant. She doesn’t just talk in a dry, clinical way, she gets it. She can connect with those who struggle with the illness, the family members, and she’s an excellent advocate for what she’s trying to accomplish.”
Saddy has been a dietician with The Center for Discovery for the past three years, and eating disorders are a subject near and dear to her heart. Her younger brother suffers with an eating disorder, which unfortunately has given Saddy firsthand experience of how a disorder affects the family dynamic.
“My philosophy has been empowering clients to take control of their own recovery and to put myself in their shoes,” explains Saddy. “The topic I presented at Patti’s house was vulnerability in the eating disorder community. How do eating disorders develop and what community is most vulnerable? One of the things Patti and I connected on was that eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. There is a lack of support in minority communities and men who battle this monster. Patti spoke about how there are people getting support, but I want to focus on those who aren’t. In some cultures, it’s so taboo — mental health should not be discussed, vulnerability should not be discussed. It’s incredible the message and the thought process behind Patti’s work.”
While it is important to change the public perception of those with eating disorders, Saddy felt it was important to end her presentation on a positive note.
“I think one of the things we hold on to is that sense of hope, that positive energy,” says Saddy. “So many times we can feel so defeated and so alone in this disease. As hard as all the tribulations are that we are going through, we are breaking down barriers, and we want to bring light into this disease. As a clinician, we speak a lot about vulnerability, but a lot of times clinicians aren’t embodying that as well, and we’re going to have to practice what we preach and really share that sense of safe space with the client.”
Geolat agrees and feels the time is ripe to bring this disease out of the shadows. “It’s not just about starting a conversation among the individuals who are afraid, but also to start a conversation toward hope and recovery. If we can just start connecting, then people who might otherwise feel so alone will know they are not.”
Start the conversation and donate today: http://somethingforkelly.org/ways-to-give/