What I've learned About Eating Disorders - Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2020
It's been five years since I published my memoir about my recovery from anorexia 'Seconds to Snap'.
Since then I've met some incredible people and families going through the hell of an eating disorder. Some have made recoveries, some sadly are still fighting. But no matter what the circumstance love and support is key.
Ive also learned a huge amount and thats what I would like to share in the blog post as I think it may be helpful to others...
1. An eating disorder is not a choice - There is not a person on this planet who would willingly choose to live with this condition as its a living hell each day for you and everyone around that person.
2. Early intervention is key - Like any other illness, the flu, chest pain; if you have symptoms you would not ignore them. However with eating disorders most symptoms are ignored for various reasons. There will always be some sort of change that becomes obvious and should not be ignored. Please see the Beat website for a full list of signs and symptoms and how to tackle these. https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/
3. Eating disorders are very complex - I suffered anorexia, however along with that (comorbidity) came suicide, depression, anxiety, OCD, psychosis, sleep deprivation, over sleeping, over exercise (anorexia athletica), cutting out food groups or as they call its orthorexia...and thats just what I had. I've personally met people who are ashamed to eat due to other people living in famine, also due to religious reasons, due to having bowel disease and upper gastric conditions. The list is endless and complex and not one thing can or will be treated in isolation. Hence why it's also not treated as one standard method. Each persons experience is very different.
4. Who do they effect - Eating disorders can effect everyone no matter of what shape, sizes, social class or sexuality. Anyone can get an eating disorder, it's that simple.
5. Genetics - Im the eldest of four girls, three of us had an eating disorder. Without question there is a genetic link and Kings College London have just launched a genetic study if anyone wants to get involved (only in England so far) https://edgiuk.org/
6. Treatment - This varies across the world. However all treatments will have psychological and medical intervention as this is a mental illness and therefor has to be supported through the correct processionals. Good effective treatment is key to recovery as is good support.
7. Recovery - Is possible. And I can only stand and say this having been through this whole experience most of my life to be a very happy, healthy recovered person now. Don't get me wrong, its was the hardest thing I've ever done. However with the love and support of the clinicians, my husband, and huge determination; I've arrived at this full recovery place.
8. Parents - One of the most heartbreaking things Ive heard from many parents is this statement "I wish I had known just how many years this would take from my child's life" so in respecting their wishes Im letting you know that having anorexia or an eating disorder can take a few years to navigate to recovery, hence why early intervention is key.
9. Living with an eating disorder - So many people living through this have asked me to pass this message on "Know your worth more than this monster in your heard, you can do this, never give up and keep fighting for your life"
10. Finding happiness - It can be done I promise. Ive done it and countless others have too. I know it' not guaranteed, but we all need hope that one day we will be living our best lives and thats what drove me to kick the controlled behaviours out of my life after so many years. Ive also been so lucky to have had children who have not been effected by this illness. So I know anything is possible.
Hugs and love