03/05/2012 10:55 am ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

The Voice of Conscience: Use It

What if you could conquer something straight away, or speak various words that were able to move the world today? Well, the time is now, because for the first time in our lives, we can know we'll be OK.

I'm not going to spend my entire existence seeking something that not everyone can give me (full acceptance or complete understanding), but I will fight to educate and pass along the message of hope, and in the spirit of education, I will leave it to others to come to their own conclusions.

I didn't admit that I had an eating disorder even when I knew I had one. But in any attempt to truly heal from a disorder, we must find our passion(s) in life to fill the void and combat unhealthy coping mechanisms left after the disorder is tackled. It takes time, but I am finding my passions; I know you will, too.

Let's face it: nobody likes to be figured out in a split second. I don't care if people know I've struggled with an eating disorder, or that I'm gay, or, heck, that I have brown eyes. But I don't want them to think that because I'm gay, or have brown eyes, or struggled with an eating disorder, they already know everything about my existence.

It's very hard to find your own ground when stuck between so many worlds. I imagine that those who didn't know about my sexuality prior to my last post now automatically assume that I am so far left that I may fall off the cliff. The truth is that every decision I make depends solely on the specific issue in question. I may receive flack here, but I am conservative and moderate in many, many ways. However, in a society of black and white, belief in bridging people together is encouraged but not supported. For some reason, when you don't solidify your allegiance to a particular group or try to remain in the gray area, you seem "scary" and "unpredictable." So it seems a person can't win for losing. But this is where society needs to "open its ears before opening its mouth." We cannot stand by safely and remain unhappy.

When people ask me to explain my journey through my illness, they often say they wish I could "give" them some of my illness (relating to my over-exercising issues). While readying my response, I often see them exhibit laughter, a lack of eye contact, or fidgeting, sure-fire signs that they are uncomfortable and masking fear. I understand where they are coming from, I think, but I honestly wouldn't "give" any of my struggles to anyone, not even my worst enemy. To this day, I continue to be frustrated with this killer disease, a product of so much of what we can control. Ironically, if ignored, it becomes a disease that we ultimately discover we can't control.

The environment for development within our society isn't what it was 50 years ago; heck, it isn't what it was eight years ago, when I was in high school. The "good ol' boys" of 50 years ago would probably still preach taking it out back, knocking the crap out of each other, and moving on. It's odd, though, that people forget that in the past 50 years, suicides among 5- to 24-year-olds have doubled. Why? I assume that when you left school in 1962, the problems stayed at school. Today, our younger generation takes issues home, to work, to their families, and into their diaries. The messages we are connected to today, good or bad, never stop.

I must say I am very proud to be from North Dakota. However, I cringed as I heard one of our "leaders" say something that highlights exactly why growing up isn't always similar, and why a lack of education, or an unwillingness to be educated, is ever-present. I'm paraphrasing this quotation, but here is why the time is now: "Bullying is necessary unless we want our children to become emotional marshmallows." It's almost a comedy bit; sometimes you don't even have to write your own material. This statement produces the (unfortunate) humor all on its own. I'll leave you to formulate your own opinions. Banzai, baby.

The many studies on why psychological issues like eating disorders seem to be more prevalent in the LGBT population come to the same conclusion: it isn't clear why. One theory is that the values and norms in the gay community promote a body-centered focus and high expectations regarding physical appearance. However, I don't buy that, at least not completely. Perhaps these issues are manifestations of identity conflicts? An identity conflict occurs when we have trouble integrating multiple identity commitments, be it religious beliefs, sexual identity, societal norms, etc. Being forced to choose an "allegiance" between sexual orientation and faith is astronomically devastating. And you'd think consideration would be given to the fact that "outcasts" are often the targets of bullying and discrimination, and the victims of hate crimes. When a person is told over and over they aren't "up to par," or that they just don't have what it takes, the destructive effects of this experience may reveal themselves in any number of psychological and/or physical ways -- for instance, eating disorders.

I take particular issue with individuals who assume that whether someone is gay or straight, a foster child, abused, or disabled, that person somehow "disappears" after graduation. The attitude to "just get them through" seems far too rampant. The geniuses within the establishment who believe this fabrication forget that we actually don't disappear; we integrate into society, just as anyone else does. We vote, work, pay taxes, and, yes, grow the economy, have children alongside you, and help choose the direction of this nation. Think about this: if every "underdog" were given more protection and the chance to be who they really are, the potential for a more positive impact on this world would be exponential.

This is it; now is your time. There may have been a time when you kept second-guessing yourself and couldn't see your blessings (or this may still be the case for you). But there are people around you who can help you realize that you can be so much more. You can test the sky. As a child, your fears may have been lost behind a smile, but you were given this moment; own it.

No one ever thought a small-town nobody could be part of a revolution, write, possess intelligence, debate tough issues, be articulate, or clarify that education and understanding are the only things that will stand the test of time. But speaking out -- not in complete "agreement" but establishing a human sense or understanding -- that suffering is not an option is crucial.

Just like having the support of a team, a clique, a crowd, or a family, acknowledging "being human" can be the catalyst in preventing one's path down a very destructive road. Allies of the "underdogs" play such an important role. How do you know what you are able to do if you keep hiding? Power lies within the simplest of forms: your voice; use it. Define what recovery means for you, and what strength means for you, because everyone defines their definition on their own -- an incredible engine for change.