Monday, 5 December 2011

Eating Disorders: Guest Bloggers

On average 1 in 150 fifteen-year-old girls suffers from anorexia nervosa. We probably all know someone who has had an eating disorder, whether it be bulimia, anorexia, or any other of these life-threatening mental health issues that are on the rise amongst young women. The highest rates of anorexia are seen among 15-to-19 year old girls. 90% of anorexia sufferers are female. All the evidence - and, frankly, logic - suggests that the western obsession with Skinny is a major cause of our ever-rising eating disorder statistics: children as young as five and six are being treated for anorexia; you often hear of little girls, on being asked what they want to be when they grow up, replying "I want to be thin". Meanwhile in developing countries and black communities, the evidence suggests that eating disorder rates remain low. In short, eating disorders are a feminist issue.

We've asked some eating disorder sufferers, strangers to the YouFem team, to do some guest blogging on this much-misunderstood issue. The utmost care will be paid to ensuring that posts are not "triggering" (precipitating disordered behaviour) and do not, as some supposedly insightful articles have the tendency to, in any way glamourise the subject.

Kicking off is the lovely Lisa Adams-May, with a brief post to introduce herself and her experiences.

Eating disorders. Where do I start? They’re killers, in short. But looking in-depth they’re like acid, stripping away parts of someone’s life ‘til they’re left with their mind in pieces and their body a shell to contain them.

My eating disorder started around the age of fourteen where the social hierarchy of school took its toll. I wasn’t unpopular and I wasn’t one of the mean girls, but my group of friends changed who they liked the most regularly which in turn made me feel very insecure.

It started off with occasional restriction, phases of bulimia. But then, aged 16, I turned to living off sugar-free drinks and jelly, probably doing as much damage to my liver as if I was drinking alcohol every day. After a few months of this, my mother noticed my weight loss and took me to the GP who referred me to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. Three weeks late I’d collapsed at work and had lost more weight.

We finally got to see a specialist, who diagnosed me as anorexic, and so began my journey to recovery. I hated my nurse. I hated my mum and anyone else who wanted me to eat. I barely spoke to my friends; one, who is now the partner I live with, stopped talking to me for months because he couldn’t bear to see what I was doing to myself.

Just over two years later, and I’m so much better. I finished my college course and am now in my second year of university. It was a lot of work, a lot of sitting with the discomfort of weight gain, but I’m in such a happier and healthier place than I was.

I’m still letting go of the disorder. There are things I need to resolve, but now I don’t take out my negative emotions on my eating. I don’t avoid fat, sugar or carbs and I never calorie count. I don’t look in the mirror everyday wishing I looked how I used to. People can and do recover from eating disorders, no one ever deserves to hate or punish themselves or their bodies.

--Lisa Adams-May

NOTE: If you are, or know anyone who is, suffering from an eating disorder or displaying some of the symptoms, it's important that treatment is seeked immediately. Anorexia Nervosa and its sibling mental health diseases can kill, and often result in long-terms health problems such as osteoporosis. For advice and help with treatment please speak to your GP.

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