Posts Tagged ‘headlines’

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2011

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

I started writing a post about Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

I stopped because I am not sure, yet, what I’d like to say.

That, of all psychiatric disorders, Anorexia Nervosa has the highest premature mortality rate. That the mortality rates for Bulimia and eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS) are equally terrifying.

That part of the complexity of eating disorders lies in the fact that no experience is exactly the same. That there are resonances and similarities, but each person’s experience is unique.

That I am deeply worried by the closures of units that I keep hearing about, especially those that I have known. That I am also scared by the growing number of sufferers and, particularly, of younger – and older – and male sufferers.

That it is as important to focus on awareness of recovery as it is to focus on awareness of being ill.

I don’t know.

All of these – and nothing. A large part of my life has been stolen by an eating disorder and I do not want to give it anymore time –

No. This is not quite true. Part of the taking back is choosing to give it time. It’s just that the time is spent in a different way.

I have had a rough few months. I try and skim over it because it is easier that way. Because there is less room, now, between me and my blog, and it is therefore much harder to hide. Because the time has been golden, too, and it’s hard to reconcile the magic and the struggle. Because even with 18 years of experience and a good whack of intensive treatment, an eating disorder can still ambush, ensnare and baffle. Can re-emerge, when you think you’re on the straight and narrow; or slip in when the routines that you’ve built to keep it out get perturbed –

And so this is my message.

Not that an eating disorder haunts forever – but that it is a difficult battle to win.

That it needs to be talked about for these reasons. Because it is a difficult battle to win and a difficult experience to talk about; and because the complexity of eating disorders means that they are difficult to understand. Because we’re not winning yet and we need to work together. Because recovery is very possible, and it’s important to tell that story as well.

There’s lots of stuff going on this week. beat have released a much needed report on the use of images in the reporting of eating disorders; there’s a busy schedule of online and offline events; Men Get Eating Disorders Too have launched a new membership scheme; we’ve got a cool Facebook page focusing on the positives of recovery –

And I’m using the time to touch base with myself and think a little bit about how I’m going to move things forward in the coming months. How I can make sure that I win my battle, and continue enjoying the amazing things that recovery can bring.

Eating Disorders and the Size Zero Phenomenon

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

I have broken my golden rule: blog is base.

In all the hype, and indecision, and shall-I-shan’t-I-ing, I have forgotten that everything starts here.

And so, to connect the dots, I want to include this video, even though some readers may have stumbled across it on other mediums. And, because it’s part of the story, whether I am proud, or embarrassed, or just a little red-faced about my nervous twitching around, I feel that, albeit belatedly, it belongs here.

The whole size zero issue wasn’t something I anticipated exploring and only tinged my eating disorder experience; however, you can’t change the debate if you’re not part of the discussion; and, whilst I certainly never saw myself doing this kind of thing 6 months ago, I wouldn’t have realised how rewarding it would be if I hadn’t given it a go.

This is only part of a wider talk, including some really important information from Professor Janet Treasure, that can be accessed at Gresham College’s site. I have also spoken on ‘Moving Maintaining Factors’, although it wasn’t (to the best of my knowledge!) filmed; and hope to do many many more.

The questions and discussion time has been the most rewarding aspect and, unfortunately, these aren’t captured here; but they did inspire this post on the ‘How do I Help? Question’ and informed some of the issues I have blogged about. Most importantly for me, they have helped to salvage some value or meaning from my experiences, and made me feel that I might be able to start using the past more positively.

When Finding Melissa clashed with Pro Ana and the Nanny State…

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

I have tried to be positive with my site.

I have been sensitive with the subject – and with the audience.

I have stuck to my ‘only say something if it is actually helpful’ rule – as much as is humanly possible -

But the escalation of pro-anorexia websites – in comparison to the impossibility of getting anyone to promote an anti pro-anorexia site – has pushed me over the edge.

It’s utter madness – and I’m fuming.

We’re so scared of saying the wrong thing that we’re saying nothing at all.

Stressed Super Girls?

Monday, October 19th, 2009

At the impressionable age of 11, when adult insecurities and expectations are starting to kick in, I developed anorexia bulimia.

It has taken me 18 years to get rid of it.

Eating disorders are intimately bound up with social expectations (girl power), psychological characteristics’ (intelligence, perfectionism), cultural trends (24 hours food) and the age old struggle to find your identity –

We’re having a bit of an explosion in the 21st century.

Everything’s coming all at once; and, it’s travelling with the lightening speed of the digital age.

Allergic to Food?

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Whilst anorexia will use any excuse it can get its hands on to avoid food (vegetarianism, braces and an inability to digest rich food providing prime examples), it is only in my recovery that I have started noticing that I might, actually, have some real intolerances.

This could, of course, be a consequence of 17 years chronic anorexia bulimia, or a simple case IBS– or just further illustration that are bodies and are minds are incredibly connected and it is, perhaps, unsurprising that we struggle so much with food when the division is hard to spot.

Suffering crippling stomach cramps may not have been a particularly pleasant experience in recent months – but it’s taught me a valuable lesson: it is impossible to divorce mind from body, and looking after one will inevitably help the other….


Thursday, October 15th, 2009

I didn’t give much thought to forced starvation when I was really ill.

Anorexia makes you selfish.

The ‘you’d eat it if you lived in Africa’ line just got on my nerve.

I’m not sure that the discussion would be any more helpful to other people struggling with eating disorders; but, after reading a piece in last weekend’s Observer, I am trying to make sense of the fact that there are over a billion people out there going hungry – whilst I have struggled between choosing not to eat – or wasting food like there’s no tomorrow.

There’s something very wrong going on.

A Lifestyle Choice?

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

I am a little perplexed as to how anorexia can possible be considered a lifestyle choice.

Lifestyle infers that you’re hoping to stay alive, so we’ve already hit the first snag; and choice infers that you’re in control, which is clearly an illusion as you discover when you try and escape

So the description’s wrong on all accounts…

It’s just a little worrying that we’re even describing a prolonged suicide in these terms.

When Thin is Meant to be In

Monday, October 5th, 2009

I don’t normally get engaged in the question of whether thin is in.

I’m not into scape-goating the media and I’ve always believed that anorexia is about what’s going on in someone’s head – and not what’s going on in the pages of Vogue.

I’m a little less sure now.

It’s not the anorexic appearances on the catwalks that have got me thinking or even the fact that modelling now seems to be a high risk career –

It’s because the trend seems to be spreading.

Thin is no longer just haute couture ‘in’; it seems to have got muddled up with notions of success in a whole host of other, completely unrelated, things.

Totally Un- Pro-Anorexia

Friday, September 18th, 2009

I’d be the first to concede that arguing with an anorexic is a battle –

But I’m ready to contest any pro-ana arguments; and, with 18 years of eating disorder destroyed life behind me, I’ll lay my track record on the line before being accused of not understanding.

A website encouraging anorexia may feel like your friend but it’s really just an extension of your worst enemy.

But I might catch it…..

Monday, August 10th, 2009

According to the news, we don’t trust people with schizophrenia.

I’m not surprised.

Campaigning doesn’t touch our fear of mental health. The social judgements have become ingrown; the assumptions; inherent.

If I hadn’t been so ill, I might have been the same.

I wouldn’t have wanted my children to catch a mental illness. I would have erred on the side of caution when mixing with unwell people. I would have understood that mental illness is best approached sensitively and that allowances should be made for mental health sufferers; after all, they’re a bit different -

They’re not like us.

Or are they?


Airbrushing and Anorexia

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Airbrushing was the topic of today’s breakfast chat. They’re trying to get it banned. Again.

The inevitable link to the rise in eating disorders – and particularly those within the female under 18s group (apparently) – caught my attention, resonated with my distorted-body-image-peer-pressure-inappropriate-role-models debate.

The story’s old and I’ve been sceptical in the past (anorexia isn’t just about the vanity of meeting social expectations), a little indignant (I am capable of distinguishing between reality and illusion, thank you very much); but, there’s another way of looking at it that I’m happier to accept.


A 21st Century Hypochondriac

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

A doctor writing for The Times on Saturday raised an interesting point: medical awareness campaigns may not be good for the health; they may, in fact, make you more anxious.

It’s a pertinent topic. With the media flurry around swine flu, health awareness has certainly featured high on the public agenda – and the worldwide web hasn’t been immune. Mind you, the internet wasn’t around in the last flu pandemic; or, at least, it wasn’t around in every living room. Thanks to the internet, we’ve got the WHO sitting on our sofa, alongside an overstretched NHS and a whole host of swine flu scaremongers.

As a 21st century hypochondriac, I am a sitting duck.


Size Zero

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

I’m anti size Zero. Not because it’s unhealthy (which it is). Or because it feeds into the whole messed up body image culture debate (which it does). Or even because it encourages anorexia (keep reading)…

But because it’s an easy answer and it stops people looking at the real problem.

Because it’s a dangerous mirage that makes anorexia all about vanity and fashion and superficial surface level things – when really it goes far deeper than that.


National Slow Down Week

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

My response to an article about National Slow Down week was particularly appropriate: I stopped.

Just for a second – but, long enough to prove the author right. Slowing down feels slightly alien. I seem to have become accustomed to doing everything at double speed – and at the same time.

Whilst not wasting further time re-hashing what has already been written, the speed of society debate is definitely worth pausing upon – because I’m not sure that it’s just a result of the technical revolution or even a reflection of today’s society; and, I’m not sure that it only affects the up-and-coming-city-dwelling-highly-strung next generation. It does, I suspect, go slightly deeper than that.