Last week was Eating Disorders Awareness Week. My attempts at writing something wouldn't do anything justice at all. All I know is that we should be talking about it. So, I would like to share with you words from two people who I love an awful lot and who inspire me on a daily basis.
Here are their stories:
(If this topic is something you identify with or is close to your heart too, and you are in need of support, then just a little note that Beat is there to help. Their number is 0845 634 1414)
"It is Eating Disorders Awareness Week. I'm sharing my experience of anorexia to inform and feel less ashamed of having it.
Anorexia is not a weight disorder. Someone with anorexia might not be extremely thin and someone who is extremely thin might not have anorexia. Disordered eaters might not have an eating disorder. Dieting is not the same as having anorexia. Skipping a meal is not the same as having anorexia.
People with anorexia do eat. Anorexia should not be glamourised or be something people aspire to. It is NOT a choice. It is a mental health illness. Someone I met once said that they wished they had anorexia. But if only people really knew what it was like then they wouldn't say this.
Anorexia is like having a bully 24 hours a day, constantly chattering away in your ear - even when you sleep. You dream of food and have nightmares about weight.
It is every second of every day thinking about food, calories and numbers. It is crying hysterically for hours over weight gain. It is wanting to die because you can't take the voices any more. It is screaming at family and crying in public, both over food. It is not leaving the house, showering or changing in fear of seeing your body.
It is countless doctors appointments, ECGs and blood tests. It is using the word "fat" as a feeling. It is doing things I am too ashamed to even say.
There is no break from this illness. There is no off button. It is constant torment all day every day.
Mainly, I want to get across that it is NOT a weight disorder. The anorexia voice does not disappear once at a healthy weight. It gets louder as you're fighting against it. Over the past seven years of being ill with anorexia, my weight has fluctuated and yet every one of those days that voice has still been there.
You don't just lose weight - you lose time, life, friends. It is exhausting - I cannot wait for the day that voice quietens down so that I can eat a meal without crying of guilt afterwards. I may have this forever but I hope to get to a stage where there is less noise in my head.
I am not giving up. I am stronger than my eating disorder. I am R and I love cats. I love baking cakes and I love kind people. I love Options and blankets. I love cute pyjamas and baggy jumpers. I want to be a nurse. I have anorexia. But I am not my eating disorder."
"To help break the silence, this week I am raising awareness of eating orders. I am never going to know what it is like for those suffering, but even just seeing the closest people to me go through such internal torture is enough to know something more has to be done.
For me, I would like to alleviate the stigma surrounding anorexia. Anorexia is a mental health disorder, not a weight disorder, that takes over people's lives one minute at a time.
For those who think it is a choice to becoming life-threateningly thin, it is most definitely not and not one person can decide not to have the disorder for a day. The voices inside of them are continuous comments of abuse which harm their self esteem and skew the view of their body image.
It is heartbreaking to see or even know of the constant suffering this causes people. Friends and family of sufferers can feel so helpless all the time, so this week I want to be able to help in other ways.
I am helping to raise awareness of how serious eating disorders actually are. I am raising awareness of how they can affect anyone, including males, and I know of too many people suffering too long without help. Being put on countless, forever-lasting waiting lists, which go nowhere, is not enough. The media portraying these illnesses to young people as something glamorous to strive for is so incredibly wrong that people have to know the truth.
There are too many misconceptions about eating disorders to list, but hopefully by raising awareness, message by message, the unfortunate reality will be known and therefore help sufferers feel less stigmatised in society."
We have to keep talking.