I have always considered myself well informed on eating disorders. As well as raising 6 children (so made it my business to understand them), I had my own battles with eating disorders in my early twenties. So I know, for example, that the common perception is that anorexia may often start it’s journey as image related but how many of us have dieted in the past, whether to gain or loose weight or just become more healthy? Most I’m guessing. So why do we not all end up with an eating disorder and in particular with anorexia? Because eating disorders have mental health issues at their very core.
I always knew that eating disorders were not just about food but about control: being in control of your body and your mind. Controlling what goes into your body gives you control on how you look & act which gives you control of how you feel, or that is the key objective, right? Eating Disorders however, are extremely complex disorders, influenced by a variety of factors, generally believed to be a combination of biological, psychological, and/or environmental abnormalities. And each of those factors contains it’s own kaleidoscope of issues and rationale.
This week, I was sent a link to BBC Radio 4’s “The Untold” which features a 17 year old, Maya, battling anorexia whilst preparing for her A levels. As I listened to this amazing insight to the battle faced by this young girl and her family, my heart raced, literally! Then I listen again and cried throughout most of it. I was absolutely shocked by the parallels between Maya’s story and our own: Maya’s need to control her world; her distorted view of what matters in her recovery; her anger for her parents because she fears they will take the control away from her and the absolute torment for the family whilst she fights this awful disease. My heart broke for them all as Maya struggles to stay in control and the family watch helplessly as she suffered.
I have no amazing words of wisdom (not sure that I ever have!) for the subject of eating disorders: I just felt compelled to share this here. Compelled for the parents & loved ones who read this blog so they know they are not alone and that there is a whole world of unseen others going through the same hell as them, it might just be labelled differently; compelled for the suffers who read this blog so they can see they are not unusual or so different from other people with different issues; compelled for anyone else just so they can perhaps recognise that an eating disorder is not just about loosing weight and is not easily fixed with a healthier diet.
Stay strong x