Next week is EDAW: Eating Disorder Awareness week (27th February -5th March) with this year’s theme being Early Intervention. During this week I am going to be involved with a talk in my local CAMHS to parents and those personally affected by Eating Disorders. I am very happy to be involved in this.
EDAW is recognised on an international scale, with the aim to break the stigma, fight the misconceptions and let people know they don’t have to suffer alone. However, it is also where more misconceptions can be made. A quick search of #EDAW brings up a news feed filled with pictures of malnourished bodies, NG tubes, transformations and numbers (weight, BMI, calories)
As much as I appreciate when this is to show a positive improvement of how far someone has come – it fuels the illness itself. See, although sufferers do not always like to admit, eating disorders are very competitive. It sounds strange when you think about it but naturally with a distorted view and disordered thoughts the illness wants you to become as sick as possible. When unwell people will look at these photos believing they don’t look like that – bringing about the belief they are not sick enough to recover.
I think the hardest thing with an Eating Disorder is you will never reach its strict criteria; you could be in hospital on the verge of death but still this is not good enough for your ED. So before this week begins, I wanted to enforce that – there is no “sickest” because each eating disorder is equally as harmful and no matter the physical state of someone the sickness is in the mind. you cannot always tell just by a glance.
Instead during this week people should speak about how their ED affected daily life, the opportunities it stole, the out of control feeling or the fact food was nothing more than painful numbers.
Recovery for me is much more than eating and weight gain, its the mental recovery which takes longer. Don’t wait to see physical evidence of a mental problem, because usually that’s too late…