This week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and to help raise awareness of these horrible mental health conditions, I will be writing a post on here every day, I’m hosting a ‘Coffee And Cake’ afternoon at my house (baking is well under way – I’m already exhausted!) and I’m asking any generous people out there for donations on my Just Giving page. At the end of the week, we’ll hopefully have raised lots of awareness as well as money for Beat 🙂
Beat is the UK’s leading eating disorder charity, and their theme for awareness week is Early Intervention. Recovery is something that’s possible for every one, and the earlier people get help, the earlier their journey back to health and happiness can begin, and the better the chance that they’ll be able to make a full recovery. Left to their own devices eating disorders can (and do) kill and that’s simply the harsh reality. Without the ongoing help and support from health care professionals, hospitals and friends and family, I wouldn’t be here to write this for you today.
And this is why this week my mission is to get my voice heard for those that are too afraid to speak out, to help make people more aware of both the impact ED’s have, help people help themselves and others and spread some positivity in this dark and scary world. Because things can and will get better, they just sometimes need a little help. Lets get this help for those that deserve it (everyone).
A (very!) brief intro to eating disorders:
The four most common types of eating disorder are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder and EDNOS. ED’s can be characterised as disorders that manifest in an abnormal attitude towards food that causes someone to alter their behaviours and eating habits in a negative way. They are often associated with low self esteem and other mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Anorexia is an eating disorder where the sufferers try to keep their weight as low as possible typically by restricting the amount of food they eat (restrictive type) and purging type (vomiting or exercising excessively). It’s most common in adolescent females but this is not exclusive. It’s important to remember that ED’s can affect anyone – they don’t discriminate based on gender, age or background. Most people with Anorexia don’t recognise that they need help and many find it difficult to accept this help when they do recognise it.
The disorder develops out of fear and anxieties surrounding body shape and weight and a desire to be thin. When a sufferer is in midst of this disorder their mind often distorts their image of themselves and believe themselves to be larger than they are.
Symptoms can include, restricting food or specific types/groups of food, rapid weight loss, weighing much less than is normal for gender, age and stage of development – again, it’s important to remember that people that are a healthy (or even over healthy) weight can still suffer from anorexia – excessive exercise, purging, low blood pressure, loss of periods, pale dry skin and hair to name but a few. For a more extensive list of behavioural, physical and emotional symptoms see the link here.
Bulimia is an eating disorder where the sufferer tries to control their weight in a repetitive cycle of binge eating and then either/or severely restricting their diet or purging through vomiting or laxatives. As with Anorexia, the sufferer tends to have an abnormal fixation on becoming fat which causes them to restrict their intake which then later causes them to lose control and over eat (binge). These behaviours are often done in secret as the sufferer experiences a great deal of shame about them and are usually ways of coping with emotional distress. It’s often hard to recognise when someone is struggling with Bulimia because of this, and there aren’t many obvious symptoms/side effects.
The definition of a binge is, ‘a period of excessive indulgence in an activity’ (in this case eating). Everyone, overindulges occasionally, it’s a part of life, but people with Binge Eating Disorder do it on a regular basis and often experience a loss of control at these times. BED is often linked with serious psychological factors like depression and anxiety and generally causes weight gain and obesity.
EDNOS stands for Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. A diagnosis of this would be given to people whose symptoms overlap or don’t meet enough of the diagnostic criteria for the above eating disorders. It’s frequently up for debate about whether this is an actual disorder and more recently people are just diagnosed with Anorexia, Bulimia or BED, despite them not perhaps experiencing as severe symptoms.
Now this is an incredibly brief overview, and so if you want to know more about any of what I’ve mentioned, don’t be afraid to do your own research or comment with questions – especially if you’re concerned that you or a loved one could be suffering from one of these disorders.
Thank you for reading, I hope this has cleared up some things for at least a few of you and remember there will be six more posts this week to come!
Love and hugs,