SVSU alumna and public speaker Jackie Krawczak hosted the program “Crushing ED: Eating Disorders and Depression” on Wednesday, Oct. 18, in the Ryder Center.
Krawczak said she wanted to give something back to SVSU that she felt was more valuable than money.
“I know how many people struggle with this, and I felt that this would be a good way to address that struggle,” Krawczak said.
She’s been doing speeches about her personal struggles and how she copes for several years now and travels to speak about it roughly once a month. In addition, she does leadership training.
In her program, Krawczak went in depth about some of the darkest moments of her life. Krawczak said that in her worst moment, she contemplated suicide, but she wanted a chance to try again.
“I didn’t feel like I was ready to accept help yet,” Krawczak said. “So fast forward several years, in Alpena, and I reached out to a therapist there, but we just didn’t click. I stopped going.”
Krawczak then called a behavioral clinic, got appointments with a therapist and a psychiatrist, and got her first real diagnosis for severe clinical depression and bulimia. Although she had been opposed to taking medications, she said the antidepressants eased her irritability and removed the fog from her brain. That helped her to go through with talk therapy, which helped even more.
Krawczak stressed that issues such as mental illness, eating disorders and addiction can affect anyone. She said she never thought of herself as someone who would suffer this way, and neither did others. She had a great job at a young age and many close friends. When she started speaking publicly, she heard stories from all walks of life.
“It hurts me inside to know that there are people living with this pain, when it’s possible to be happy and not have that pain,” Krawczak said. “So I decided that I don’t care if it’s taboo, or what people think of me, or if they think it’s fake. Because every time I tell my story, I know there are people that have issues with anxiety, depression, body dysmorphic issues and substance abuse. I want them to know they don’t have to be ashamed.”
Some of the healthy coping mechanisms Krawczak recommends to others include positive sayings, accepting compliments as genuine, talk therapy, self-help reading, eating healthy, exercising in moderation and setting aside time for yourself.
“You have to just get over that feeling of being afraid and make the phone call, go to the office,” Krawczak said. “Bring a friend with you if it makes you more comfortable. If you don’t get what you’re looking for right away, don’t give up. Try again.”