‘Break The Silence. Beat Eating Disorders.’
This week is eating disorders Awareness Week and the theme, as you may have guessed, is speaking out and breaking the silence caused by stigma and shame surrounding eating disorders.
In the run up to this week, Beat, the UK’s leading ED charity conducted a study into those directly affected with eating disorders and the results are shocking.
- 58% didn’t tell anyone about their eating disorder because they didn’t know how to talk about it
- 65% waited for more than 6 months before confiding in someone
- 87% of those surveyed did not contact a healthcare professional when they first realised they had a problem
Beat’s call to action:
We want people to speak up about eating disorders. We all need to break the silence early so that sufferers get the treatment they so desperately need. No-one should face an eating disorder on their own.
Here are a few thoughts of my own on ‘Breaking the Silence’.
Nothing is more crippling than living every moment of every day with the weight of carrying your biggest secret around with you. You’re scared to tell anyone because you’ve kept it to yourself for so long; it’s all yours now and nobody else needs to know. You’re ashamed; what will people think of you? That you’re less of a person somehow? They’ll lose respect for you; think you’re not capable of doing what you’re supposed to do? You don’t want their sympathy; you don’t deserve it. You don’t want them to worry, don’t want to be a burden. They might see it as a weakness; can’t have that.
Some may be envious of your determination and power over basic human needs. You’re a bit thin you still need to work on it – how could anyone be jealous of that body? What if they think you’re a fraud? What if you bite the bullet, open up and they don’t believe you? You don’t really look thin enough or ill enough to have a proper eating disorder anyway. Maybe just leave it a while. Your pain only matters to you. Why should anyone else care? You should be ashamed of yourself for even thinking of telling anyone. That’s the one… shame.
When you are in the grips of an Eating Disorder, there are innumerous reasons and excuses to keep it as your dirty little secret. I rattled through just a few of them. Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge-Eating Disorder and other less well-known EDs are almost always cloaked in secretive behaviours, deception and lies. Stigma and shame fuel that point blank refusal to give in; the grip of the illness becomes tighter, digging its heels and worming its way further into your already screwed up, exhausted brain. The sooner this cycle is broken, the better.
Speaking out, though, is so much easier said than done. There are so many ‘what ifs’, and once you manage to work your way around those, you have to work out who to tell, when to tell them, how to tell them, why you’re telling them…
It’s such a complex process. I’m relieved I have a whole week to break it down.
If you have concerns about yourself or others, speak to your GP or contact Beat for information and support.
Throughout the week, I will be blogging away about my own experiences and whatever else comes into my head, but I also want to hear from you. If there is anything you want to ask about eating disorders, the work of Beat Charity or about little old me, then I will answer all your questions as best as I can. Either comment on here or through Twitter to @ilonacatherineTagged in: anorexia, Binge-Eating Disorder, bullimia, Eating Disorders Awareness Week, health
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