My name’s Ilona, and I’m an Anorexic
Catherine is my middle name. I decided to use it as a pseudonym for this blog when I was about to begin writing about my time in an Eating Disorder Unit. I didn’t really think it through but it was suggested by the then Editor as a means of keeping my own identity somewhat separate and I suppose for my own protection. I chose Catherine because I wanted to go along with this but wanted to not disconnect completely – it was still part of my name and I didn’t want to hide away because that suggests an attached fear of embarassment and/or shame.
This week is Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Unlike National Sausage Day or National Hug a Hamster Day, EDAW is internationally recognised, gets bigger year on year and allows organisations, individuals and charities such as B-eat to promote awareness and educate about the wide spectrum of Eating Disorders that exist and affect millions of men and women of all ages across the world.
I am 24 and have struggled with food and weight since the age of 7 but have rarely let it get in the way of my ambitions. I have a First Class degree and am currently studying a Masters in Journalism, with dreams of one day living in a beautiful house with my man and children, and writing for a living. About what… I’m not sure, but I’m lucky to have this platform now to put my opinions forward and express how I feel about the issues I am most passionate about.
One of those things is raising awareness of an illness that I have had for most of my life. Eating Disorders awareness is so important to me, as I am so aware of how they are portrayed in the media; film, documentary, tabloids, broadsheets, and I have felt strongly for a long time that there was something not quite right in how this is and has been done. The constant connection to celebrity, to fashion, to vanity, to extremes, shock, horror, glamour. Sometimes exploitative, sometimes ill-informed, rarely accurate. I didn’t want to sit around moaning or writing essays about how I would do things differently if I were some kind of Media God. I simply wanted to write about the raw, gritty, often mundane reality behind Eating Disorders, with my own individual spin – straight from the horses mouth.
A smaller part of all of this is that I am a B-eat Young Ambassador. Most of my media appearences, interviews and involvement with ED awareness films and literature are arranged through B-eat. I sometimes link to such articles, radio interviews and television interviews, most of which happen during EDAW – a little warning for you there. However, whatever I write here is an expression or opinion of my own – I do not represent B-eat here – just see me as a cheerleader for them as a bloody fantastic, hardworking and leading Eating Disorder charity.
I am not here to preach. I am not standing on a pedestal. I do not claim to know the answers or represent those lucky ones of us who have ‘recovered’ from an Eating Disorder. I have been up and down, in and out of control, in treatment, out of treatment, sometimes carefree, never for long. Recovery is a process that demands not only determination and guts, but the ability to take an enormous leap of faith without ever looking back. I, regretfully, have not been able to do that yet. I can only hope, and until then, I continue to live doing what I can to live with whatever my silly brain throws my way. Some days I fight, some days I let it take me.
This week is about understanding an illness that is so often misrepresented. I want to challenge stereotypes and I want to speak out for those who suffer silently. There should be no shame or stigma attached to mental illness, but unfortunately, there is, too much. I’ll be wiritng about different issues connected with Eating Disorders throughout the week and if it helps only one person, job done.
Have a good week. xTagged in: anorexia, B-eat, BED, bulimia, charity, EDAW, media
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