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Archive for the ‘EDNOS’ Category

This reprinted here in full, making it easier to read. Thank you to Helen Razer for putting it so well and so correctly about eating disorders and the current ‘DIS’ campaign. To read her original please go to: http://www.crikey.com.au/2015/05/07/were-making-ourselves-sick-with-the-publicity-of-eating-disorders/

I will follow in a while with my own post and thoughts on where Butterfly are and aren’t heading and the damage they do because they heavily mix body image campaigns with eating disorder awareness.

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To survive the current calendar, health advocacy groups must claim a month and shake it. January starts with glaucoma and thyroid conditions, and the year ends with Alzheimer’s and AIDS.  This month is given over to a number of health campaigns with notable new May player The Butterfly Foundation currently raising funds and awareness for eating disorders (ED).

Theirs is a well-regarded organisation providing outpatient services to ED sufferers who, in the case of an anorexia nervosa diagnosis, face what is estimated to be the highest standardised mortality figures of any psychiatric disorder. The help they offer is practical and based in firm research. But, like so many other advocacy groups, the public messages broadcast are entirely theoretical and based on flimsy hope.

With the achievable aim of funding itself and the rather more incredible one of stopping ED at its source, the foundation has launched Don’t DIS My Appearance campaign. Let’s set aside the antique hip-hop language that had passed its best before date before Snoop Dogg had packed his first bowl. Let’s also overlook the decision to ask ambassadors to display a middle finger, which I imagine may seem less like a moment of cheeky defiance than a bleak reminder of the toilet bowl to those who suffer from bulimia. Let’s look instead at how this organisation, and others, can so easily extinguish the very awareness they seek to create with crude messaging.

We spend much of the year in a tangle of awareness ribbons and there are those who reasonably argue that we’re bound to stop noticing the meaning of such decoration at all. But even if a public health campaign is good enough to cut through all this shiny bunting, it may achieve the terrible opposite of its intention.

In a study undertaken to assess the effectiveness of the famous breast cancer pink, researchers unexpectedly found that the women have become both more likely to underestimate their risk of the disease and less likely to donate to charities. The marketing professor who undertook the study concluded that in an effort to make the matter of breast cancer seem less taboo, organisers had also drained the matter of its urgency. After all, it’s pink like Barbie.

In a literature review on gender-based violence awareness, authors found that such campaigns can end up describing a standard of behaviour. If audiences believe that violence is very prevalent, as they reasonably might when viewing such ads, the message can license “violent behavior rather than activating behavior to reduce [it]”. In other words, violence is normalised through its depiction.

The Butterfly Foundation runs a similar risk of normalisation with its campaign. It’s a high-profile, celebrity-studded effort that posits EDs as normal and as prevalent enough to ask us all to change our behaviour in order to prevent them.

The thing is, though, this campaign is really not aimed at anorexia patients.”

Of course, all reasonable people would like to see a reduction in the incidence of anorexia nervosa. This disorder, which has a lifetime prevalence of between 0.3% and 1.5% in females and between 0.1% and 0.5% in males, is horrifying. That treatment, if accessible, promises a very high rate of recovery would seem to make the task of “awareness raising” all the more urgent.

If we can save a few lives by making death and extreme disordered eating seem a lot more common than they are — and the campaign absolutely does this by conflating EDs, a diverse group of mental illnesses, many of which have no extreme physical side effects, with anorexia in stating they collectively “kill more Australians than any other psychiatric illness” — then what of it?

The thing is, though, this campaign is really not aimed at anorexia patients. Professor Susan Rossell, a highly regarded expert in EDs with qualifications and associations too several to cite, sees “awareness” of this type aimed chiefly at people with “super anxious body consciousness” rather than an actual illness.

Rossell says that campaigns that demand an end to bullying might have some benefit for some ED patients. But the at-risk anorexia patients whose mortality statistic is used as a call to action are unlikely to be rescued by the injunction not to “dis”.

While there are accounts of anorexia patients who suffered chiding for overweight in early life, this is just one tiny potential element of a complex range of influences, including biological and genetic ones, which can provoke ED. While some patients may report bullying as a factor in their disease, others may report endorsement. Just as the so-called “Pro Ana” and “thinspiration” online community of extreme dieting normalises anorexia, campaigns of the Butterfly type can do exactly the same. To the potentially anorexic mind, the “everybody’s doing it” nature of this campaign is as much of a catalyst as a “dis” or a size 4 pair of skinny jeans.

Scholars in anorexia and all ED commonly use the biopsychosocial model to explain this disorder range. While it might be nice to end the “dis”, it might be also of great benefit to legitimate patients, as opposed to the simply body conscious, to understand that their disease has more of the “bio” and less of the “social” than most of us suspect.

“All eating disorders have a strong biological component,” said Richard Newton, Austin Health’s medical director of mental health and board member of The Butterfly Foundation.  When I suggest that the foundation’s newest campaign continues to situate ED entirely in the realm of the social, he explains that the illness-shaping or “pathoplastic” effects of the culture can switch the disease on. There are, he says, historical accounts that describe anorexia some 3000 years old. The “Holy Anorexia” of ascetic women who sought to become pure through fasting was, says Newton, “apparently epidemic in the Middle Ages”. The culture can turn this genetic predisposition on and off.

But what this awareness campaign does not give us is any indication that the disease may be genetic. Researcher in risk factors for ED at the University of Melbourne Isabel Krug rattles off a list of studies on potential endophenotypes, heritability, genome wide association and other data that we lay people can trust to mean that these disorders, particularly anorexia, involve a genetic predisposition.

There are even emerging biomarkers for anorexia, and Rossell was lately involved in a study on a particular eye movement called the “square wave jerk”. It is my lay understanding that imaging for anorexia shows more evolved promise than for those in the study of all other psychiatric disorders. It’s odd that common wisdom, and a great deal of general medicine, treats a common mental illness like depression as a case of “chemical imbalance” or genes, and anorexia as purely the result of social factors like bullying or super-skinny ladies in magazines.

Depression, despite its lack of biomarkers and clear prevalence among those poor in social capital, is read as biological. Anorexia, despite great evidence of its biological basis, is read as social and The Butterfly Foundation certainly overplays this by recommending being nice to people as a cure for death.

I asked Rossell about our willingness to see anorexia as an entirely manufactured disorder and she said: “It’s because it occurs so often in young girls”. She is unwilling to elaborate much further but when I asked her if it was due to the assumption that young women are empty vessels whose untainted bodies just wait to be filled by the culture she makes an ambivalent noise.

She is not ambivalent, however, on the enduring refusal to study and describe anorexia as having a biological basis. “There are papers I have tried to publish and these have been refused on the grounds that I am trying to overly medicalise anorexia,” she said. “Of course the biopsychosocial model is one that should be observed. But if you continually refuse to acknowledge the ‘bio’ in that complex, then you will end up with no idea of how the different elements interact.”

With medicine so reluctant to commit itself to an explanation for ED, it’s hardly surprising that groups like The Butterfly Foundation would follow suit. But even if we agree that it’s better to take the potential social catalysts for EDs out of the picture, the “dis” campaign fails miserably on that score.

Let’s even allow that the foundation’s normalisation of extreme ED and selective mortality statistic will do no harm and just think about the phrase “don’t DIS my appearance”. Given that the most at-risk ED sufferers are those who are underweight and gain at least as much momentum from the compliments their tiny silhouettes routinely attract as they may have from an early life “DIS”, perhaps “don’t praise my appearance” might be a more effective tactic.

Approbation is, perhaps, even more hazardous to ED patients than condemnation. As Rossell suggests, many public conversations that purport to address ED patients are really just intended for gals who feel like they might be a bit unattractive. And even if making the super body conscious feel a bit better about their flab is considered a good outcome, the “don’t DIS” edict doesn’t even really work here.

If women, both those who suffer an ED and those who just feel a bit shit about their bodies, want to be liberated from the primacy of the image, then surely an obvious solution is to detonate the power of the image.

Here’s my campaign, free of charge, to The Butterfly Foundation next May. How about you try “completely DISregard my appearance”? And instead of using attractive ambassadors and expensive manicures to underscore the lack of importance of the image, try a picture of me after 24 straight hours of researching EDs in my pyjamas. I’ll show you just how visual perfection has very little currency in one adult human woman’s working life.

 

 

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What I won't share

 

To all those who want information for school projects, media blogs, uni projects:

I will not share or comment on:

  • my daugher’s lowest weight
  • pictures of her at her worst
  • a detailed state of her fingers nails, hair or other physical attributes
  • how eating disorders affect your looks
  • my daughter’s detailed list of safe foods or fearful foods
  • BMI weight for either my daughter or make suggestions for your BMI
  • the words healthy, beauty, inner beauty, protein diets, fresh diets
  • dieting or food tips
  • what are better foods or healthier foods to eat

why:

  • it takes the focus of just how dangerous and devasting eating disorders (particularly anorexia) are
  • it diminishes eating disorders to the physical and superficial
  • it is not helpful or useful for recovery or media intake
  • sends the wrong message about foods, health, body weight etc.
  • eating disorders are not an illness about food or weight
  • there are far, far more devasting consequences and ill health from having an eating disorder than your nails, skin, hair etc
  • there are no good or bad foods

However, I will share:

  • the real body and mind breakdowns that occur (did you know the uterus thins out to almost paper and only thickens once the body is repaired and periods start – just learnt that)
  • how incidious, manipulative, dangerous and all consuming eating disorders are
  • that it is an illness of the mind that affects all genders, cultural and social areas
  • that physical health and healing comes when a varied and wide food range is eaten
  • the long lasting effects of eating disorders are those under the skin: the mind, behaviours, organs, bones, teeth, reproductive system, endocrine system …
  • what research has been done and how much more needs to be done
  • what resources (including financial) are not being funnelled into eating disorder areas
  • how eating disorders affect families and relationships
  • recovery and healing that encompasses all areas of an eating disorder.

I have met some wonderful people who are creating great stuff, from documentaries, short films, very informative and balanced websites. But others still have a lot to learn about eating disorders. These are the ones I want to grow and stretch in their ideas of what an eating disorder is really all about.

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The below is a powerful post of what not to say, even if you think you mean well. Even though the study was targetted at anxiety, the results are the same for depression and eating disorders. Throw-away phrases like those below, never help the sufferer, only make the journey back to health harder, lonelier and longer.
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The Priory Group asked anxiety sufferers to share the worst comments people had made about their anxiety. The results, shown in these pictures, revealed a general lack of empathy.

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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

“Saying ‘snap out of it’ or ‘there’s nothing wrong with you’ is hugely detrimental,” says long-term anxiety sufferer Jonathan. “What that person doesn’t realise is that they are embedding those thoughts into the anxiety sufferer’s mind, which ultimately makes it worse.”

Dr Paul McLaren, a consultant psychiatrist at Hayes Grove Hospital, agrees that people need to have a better grasp of anxiety as an illness.

“It is not easy to switch off,” he said. “We need to work on educating people to help them understand that anxiety is a normal part of human experience and nothing to be ashamed of.”

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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group
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Natalie Clince / The Priory Group

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It’s about learning what are healthy boundaries. How to protect ourselves, our identity, our health, our mental state.

Boundaries work two ways – us protecting ourselves from others who don’t respect our boundaries; and us learning to respect other’s boundaries.

Often those with mental health illnesses have never learnt to build boundaries that protect them from people, situations and emotions around them. We have allowed others to crash our boundaries, giving up our rights and identity to others.

But more than that, eating disorders being the nature they are, are another unwanted crasher of boundaries. We can learn to push back people who would treat us like this, but will still allow the eating disorder to destroy and deny us every human right and life itself.

Recovery encompasses learning to build healthy, loving boundaries that respect us as people and keep us safe. We learn to set limits on the people who hurt and deny us, but we also learn to set boundaries on the eating disorder. We learn to tell it “you cannot come here again”.

Like all boundary building this takes time. It is not easy learning to build boundaries. We feel like we may be selfish or manipulative but building boundaries are not like that. It is critical, healthy and right to do so. It takes time and practice to build the boundaries. To tell people they cannot talk or treat you like this. And most importantly for those with an ED, that it is no longer welcome. You will not give it the time of day, it cannot continue to treat you this way or destroy you life.

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I wanted to share this lovely post from one of my readers. As a mum with two children struggling with an eating disorder she gives some great advice, hope and strength to those of use following a similar path. The reality of living with an eating disorder in the house is different for everyone. It is tough, frightening, painful and like living in some private, hellish parallel universe. What is also frightening is how strong a link there is from eating disorders developing and fathers who are absent, abusive and neglectful.

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Hello everyone,

A swift update. My son Jordan [who likes to be called just J] ended up being sectioned and spending nearly two and a half months in the Huntercombe hospital, Stafford, UK. It was a nightmare trying to get him in the ambulance to take him on the 3 hour journey – his resistance and strength was superhuman – quite surprising for someone so weak with starvation. The dents in my freezer where he punched it is testament. I’d even struggled to disarm him when he’d grabbed a couple of bread knives and tried to stab the social workers. Once inside the hospital, he protested violently, kicked the furniture and finally fell to his knees, sobbing and breaking down totally. It was heartbreaking, but necessary. I was relived that he was finally where he needed to be. He was admitted weighing 8 1/2 stone after losing around 1/3 of his body weight. After admission his blood pressure dropped dangerously low. Thankfully the hospital staff saved his life and put him on the road to recovery. He hated it there, but was determined to do whatever it took to get himself out and he quickly and steadily gained weight. He was discharged weighing 10 stone, which is still very low for his height, but he is terrified of getting any heavier.

He is still firmly in the grip of anorexia and doesn’t really want to recover [although he tries to convince us that he has recovered.] Just like Sophie, for the first month he seemed to be doing well; he was perky and chatty, controlling his own food intake and maintaining his discharge weight. However he is now slowly losing weight again, even though he eats somewhere between 1700 and 2000 cals per day. He goes through periods of food obsession. At first he would only eat a variety of just a handful of ‘healthy’ foods; that changed and his calorie intake came largely from ‘healthy’ fluids, including lots of milk; now he’s gone to the extreme of eating mainly unhealthy food and drink, such as energy drinks, kitkats, fish and chips from the chippy and black coffee. He sees the CAMHS team regularly, but under duress. He refuses to co-operate and will only agree to being weighed and having a very brief consultation. He began haphazardly taking his anti depressants, just before stopping them completely, insisting he doesn’t need them. He refuses to see the medics and have tests re his curved spine and sleep paralysis, saying that he can’t stand being touched during examinations. Despite all of this, the old happy ‘normal’ J that we used to know – the one that used to joke around and the one who you could have an intelligent conversation with – does still exist and emerges fairly frequently. He is very changeable though, one minute he’s laughing and feeling optimistic about the future and making plans/setting goals and the next he’s angry and depressed and saying he didn’t ask to be born. He is frequently argumentative, aggressive, verbally abusive, selfish … it’s as if he’s possessed by the devil. I’ve learnt to keep my composure and walk away from him when he’s being nasty, telling him I refuse to talk to that other voice/creature. After a short time he will calm down and be nice and reasonable again and all the harsh words will have been forgotten. He never apologises though and has a complete lack of empathy for anyone else. The good thing is, he is truthful and admits his dieting had got out of hand, that it was all about control, that he does hear the ‘anorexic voice’ [saying, for example, that he used to grab a handful of cereal, put it in his mouth, but was then compelled to spit it out], that we had all been right, but that he had refused to listen, believing that we were all lying to him… He says he forces himself to ignore the Ana voice as he has no intention of ever getting sectioned again. He jokes that he’ll be visiting his younger sister Melissa in hospital when she gets sectioned. He tells me to stop worrying and that although he hates food, he knows he has to eat. He is aware that there is a strong chance of relapse and says he’s not going to let that happen. How can any parent not worry? Due to being malnourished for so long he now has low bone density and a curved spine and he has weakened his heart. He also has very poor short-term memory and constantly repeats himself. The hope is that he will settle at college next year, build up his confidence and find some happiness [he did try a college course this September but it was all too soon – all the anxieties and doubts flooded back and overwhelmed him and he had to drop out]. Thankfully he has a lovely supportive friend.

Melissa [now 15] is sliding down the same slope as J. After battling with her E.D and, for months being able to maintain her weight of around 8 1/2 stone [which is very low for her height of 5ft 8″], she is now losing weight again and struggles to tip the scales at 8 stone, fully clothed. She used to be a healthy 10 stone and a perfect size 10, but thought she was fat. She is very rigid in the handful of different foods that she allows herself and in her calorie intake, which is now only a few hundred per day. She still thinks she’s fat even though she is very thin. Thankfully she has a lovely CAMHS counsellor, who sees her weekly and her teachers/mentors at Bryn Elian school in North Wales are bending over backwards to support her – she is allowed to leave early and go in late on some days, has been able to drop unnecessary subjects and is allowed to learn maths at home. So the reduced school stress has resulted in an improvement in her confidence and mood. She is motivated to complete year 11 and pass her GCSEs and go to college next year. Hopefully she can stay healthy enough. Frequently though she gets so depressed, tearful, argumentative, nasty and even violent. Her eyes glare and something ugly speaks. It really isn’t her as the real Melly is gentle, loving, caring, helpful, beautiful and a joy to have around. Ana-Melissa sometimes threatens to self-harm. We have spent endless hours just talking and cuddling and crying together. [She’s so different to J who doesn’t do hugs]. Despite the fact she has many lovely supportive friends and lots of male admirers, she struggles to be happy. She feels constantly cold and her hair is falling out.

Their older brother and sister Andy and Shelly seem to have given up and feel that Mel is just an attention seeking difficult teen. It is difficult trying to convince them that neither J or M want to be this way, that they cannot help it, nor can they fight it alone. At least Mel had the strength to ask her school teachers and everyone else for help. I try to stay calm and understanding and supportive and positive thinking, however I’m not supermum and I sometimes can’t help raging and effing and blinding back at them. And yes, I’ve told them both to just grow up. I do get over my angry outbursts and frustration quickly though and both J & M know that I’m just releasing tension and that I’ll always be there for them, will always love them and will do whatever it takes to help them both back to health and happiness. My GP and the CAMHS team have told me to expect to be the punching bag and that this will be an up/down struggle for years, maybe a lifetime. There was only one time when I totally lost control, and that was when after the millionth time of going round and round in circles with Melissa I finally blew my top and yelled that I couldn’t take it any more. She had been my rock during our worst times with J and now she was sapping all my energy. Rather than hurt her or smash up the house as I so deeply desired at that moment, I stomped my way upstairs to my room, sat on my bed, gripped the quilt and, from the pit of my stomach, just screamed and sobbed and rocked backwards and forwards, yelling “why, why why”. This went on for a good 10 minutes until I had burst blood vessels in my face and I had nothing left inside of me. Shelly came up with a cup of sweet tea, spoke soothing words to me, told me everything’s going to be ok and helped me pull myself together. Meanwhile Melly ran outside and we found her sitting and just staring into space. Anorexia is an ugly powerful destructive demon. Daily I pray that J & M find the strength to overcome it.

If I could offer any parent advice I would say get your GP [pressure him/her if need be] to refer your child into the psychiatric services as soon as you know he/she is showing signs of a worrying eating pattern, and once there, if things don’t improve, push for admittance into an inpatient eating disorder unit/hospital. Remember, our kids will not/cannot just ‘snap out of it’. I was so angry with the old GP [we’re with a much more sympathetic and helpful one now] because he just dismissed us, saying nothing could be done unless J wanted help. He had a mocking, couldn’t-care-less attitude and told me I had no choice but to just wait until J got so ill that he’d be rushed into hospital, but by then it might be too late. I just sat there, stared at him with a look of shock horror and told him he has to get us some help. I didn’t move from my seat and just kept repeating that he has to help us. Eventually he said he would have a word with his colleagues at the local hospital and see what could be done. A few days later he phoned me to say that he had put a referral through to the Child and Adolescent services, but warned me that the waiting list was long and that we could be waiting weeks. Thankfully it only took 2 weeks.

My love and prayers go out to all who struggle with an eating disorder and all the families involved. It really is tough on everyone with all the stress and worry and constant walking on egg shells, not to mention the endless meetings with all sorts of professionals – psychiatric nurses, psychiatrists, doctors, family therapists, dieticians, school teachers/mentors/educational welfare officers… all this on top of having to earn a living.

Sorry I’ve gone on a bit! It helps to get the thoughts down. Mel also finds it therapeutic to diarise stuff that has happened in her life in relation to her father and what led to her eating disorder. She says that when she is older she will publish it on my website http://www.sharonkilby.co.uk/site/ The site exposes corruption in North Wales and the people responsible for forcing my children to live with their abusive father almost half their lives.

I have been shocked to learn that eating disorders are not so uncommon anymore. It seems that everyone knows someone who is suffering with one. Melissa knows 4 people in her school year who are sufferers. My boss knows 2 people who are anorexic, a friend of mine knows 2 anorexics [one of them fully recovered and went on to be happily married with child, the other person didn’t recover], my solicitor has an anorexic in her family… My God what is happening to our youngsters? Maybe EDs are symptomatic of the sick insane, evil society that we are forced to live in [more on that in my site.]

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the front line:

  •  the GP, general medical doctor
  • school/uni nurse or counsellor
  • parents

what are they missing:

  • the truth/facts about eating disorders
  • how serious they are
  • they are not a passing phase or something else
  • you NEED to act immediately, REGARDLESS!

This month we have 5 new inpatients to our children’s ward, one of which is in the intensive care unit. Why, because local doctors don’t react quickly enough, don’t believe, don’t refer onto appropriate care. The young men and women, then end up so ill that they need hospital care.

Worse parents and sufferers have to find through other means, word of mouth, who to see, what to do to find the appropriate medical assistance.

What does it take to get the message through??? Seriously, do local GP’s just bury their heads in the sand or pretend they know everything!!!!!

Someone asked this week on Tumblr, what happened in the years previous before this enlightened age of eating disorder care. I told her the enlightened age has still not come. Too many are still heading for inpatient treatment because no one will act early enough to help them. Too many are still dying.

 

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To all the doctors, dietitians, medical professionals, and parents

Imagine you are in a dark, scary place. Your mind is playing tricks on you so you don’t know what is real and what is not. You have lost what truth means or write your own truth. You are terribly insecure, sad, and have no hope. You know you are sliding into a deep hole but are powerless to stop it. You hate yourself and feel so weird around others you isolate yourself. Your emotions and life are just numb and you prefer to just ‘disappear’. It would be better to hide. You have obsessions that you can’t control, that just take over your body and mind. It is like being on a treadmill that you can’t stop, but gets faster and faster. Until you are out of control and desperately want help, but are terrified to ask for it. Giving up on life completely seems a better option.

Would you like to live like this everyday for months or years?

This is the basis of what it is to live with an eating disorder. It is a mental health illness that needs treatment not ignorance.

How much educational awareness, media coverage, research etc will it take for you to realise eating disorders are serious. Or worse, they actually exist and will not go away just because you don’t want to understand or treat the disorder.

How many sufferers are condemned to getting sicker because you don’t believe they have an eating disorder or are not critical enough? Your brush off and lack of care or support silences the voice of the sufferer. Imagine having finally reached out to someone because you are desperate for help only to be told you don’t rate enough to get help.

Where do you get the idea that ‘just eat’ will work or ‘I know you can eat so get over this’. Why would you use medication to increase the appetite when you aren’t treating the mind or emotions? Who decides who is critical enough to warrant the attention of a psychologist or psychiatrist? Who decides that an eating disorder has ‘levels’ of diagnosis? Cancer is cancer not almost cancer. An eating disorder is the same and demands the same instant attention and treatment.

EATING DISORDERS ARE NOT ATTENTION SEEKING BEHAVIOUR

EATING DISORDERS ARE NOT A MINOR ILLNESS THAT YOU GIVE A BANDAID FOR

EATING DISORDERS ARE NOT A FOOD OR WEIGHT PROBLEM

EATING DISORDERS ARE NOT THE LATEST SOCIAL CRAZE AND MUST HAVE

There is no excuse apart from ignorance to treat people with an eating disorder as unimportant or stupid. Information is widely available including research. No one wants their loved one to have an eating disorder, but to bury your head in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist will only make the eating disorder worse. It will get a stronger grip and you will end up with someone who is very sick. Early intervention and treatment is the key and so much research and statistics prove this point. And follow up support after treatment is also essential. You just don’t drop and run.

When you are an adult sufferer you can at least keep pursuing the challenge to find appropriate support/medical professionals to help you recover. It is a challenge that should NOT be there. Public health systems, medical insurers make the task of finding appropriate help a nightmare. Any other illness is a straight forward approach, but eating disorders still have not made even made it to basic level.

For those under adult age and are reliant on a parent getting them help they need it is heartbreaking. Not having a parent who understands or wants to take the time to learn what an eating disorder is only adds to the strength of the illness and the entrenchment of the illness. It won’t go away conveniently for you and yes it will cost money and time. Ignoring the illness and your child adds guilt, shame and denial of self to your child. They don’t need that – it just feeds the illness. I will be the first to put my hand up and say the journey over the last 4 years has been hell at times. But it has been worth it to see my daughter now.

I know I have vented before, and have said a lot of this before too. But I get sooooooo frustrated and angry when I get emails with desperate cries of help because families and the medical establishment remain blissfully ignorant.

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