So eating disorder awareness week is upon us again, with this year’s theme entitled “break the silence” encouraging sufferers to speak up and get help. Only an estimated fifty percent of people affected by eating disorders seek help, and with ed’s being the most fatal of all mental illnesses it is crucial people feel able to talk about their own personal battles, and dispel the myths that surround them.
I recently revisited the ward where I spent four months aged 16 battling with my eating disorder, and on seeing some of the staff was met with numerous comments such as “you’re looking good” and “you must be so proud to have recovered”, all said after scanning my physical appearance for seconds. Other mental illnesses aside, how on earth did they know from looking at me that I had recovered from an eating disorder? How long will the perception that to be a sufferer you must be underweight continue for? The reality is anorexia is the least common eating disorder, with only 10% of sufferers meeting that diagnosis; I could quite easily have still been struggling. A healthy weight is no true indicator of a person’s internal battle; eating disorders are like any other mental illness, they can affect anyone; any age, any sex, any race and any size.
I’m lucky to be able to say I’m recovered or at least in the latter stages of recovery from an eating disorder, after a very hard five year struggle. This year we need to speak up for sufferers unable to, speak up for those battling in silence, and encourage everyone, professionals and public, to realise that you don’t have to be thin to be living with an eating disorder, the internal battle is much more than the external appearance.
For more information go to b-eat, the national eating disorder charity, webpage.
“Break the Silence…” EDAW 2012- eating disorders can be beaten