I have a less direct connection here, but the issues still deeply trouble me. There was no one individual thing, rather a growing awareness and discomfort over a period of a few years. Now, this scares me stiff.
- My daughter’s drama class performed a play called “Hard to Swallow”, about a girl with anorexia, the impact on her family, and the problems in getting help and effective sympathetic treatment*. At one point the main character cried out in anguish which really shocked the audience; this was no ordinary “school play”, and left me disturbed for quite a period.
- Through work some years ago I met someone who was clever, talented, successful, artistic and good-looking. One day, they told me they had been fighting a fifteen-year battle with Bulimia; I was shocked, not least because there was absolutely so sign of the pain and turmoil just below the impressive surface. Again, failures of “the system” in making help and care available were a large part of the problem.
- I have talked with more than one parent who has troubled themselves whether a pre-holiday-swimwear diet has become something more, maybe gone too far… but not known how to approach it, what to say, where to ask for guidance. And with hindsight I am sure I have known other people struggling with eating disorders, but have not spotted the signs.
- After a year on twitter, I have often stumbled without looking, from runners to fitness and health, to accounts which may offer “inspiration” to others which are without question more harmful, or troubled. I see struggle, also recovery and bravery and strength.
I don’t claim any understanding of eating disorders (of which there are many), but I do know they are a very serious illness, often an outlet for other traumas, and definitely not just a fashion or “phase” to be dismissed. They do not just affect teenagers. They do not affect only girls. It seems that the healthcare services are patchy, at best, and whether someone (or their families or those who care) can get help can be a lottery.
These problems are all around us, we probably all know someone who is affected by an eating disorder but we don’t realise… no-one talks about it; no-one understands or knows how to talk about it.
Meanwhile, individuals struggle on alone, and those who love them are desperate to know how to help. There is a real darkness here, a shadow on lives and families, just below the surface.
b-eat tries to address these barriers, and offer help and support to everyone affected – help for those with problems, but also guidance and support to families and carers.
If you can sponsor me here then I would really appreciate it; but if not I will understand.
But I will ask that you please visit the b-eat website .
Make a note of their details. Tell other people about them. Just in case.
(*- Mark Wheeler, adapted from “Catherine” by Maureen Dunbar)