Tuesday 27 February 2018

GUEST POST by Laura for Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2018

*** Possible Trigger Warning*** 

I could talk for a long time about my journey with Anorexia, I’m not going to try and condense 18 years into one blog post! So I wanted to highlight a few aspects I feel are of particular importance.
My battle with Anorexia started 18 years ago at the age of 11. At the time that was very young, although nowadays sadly that is not uncommon at all. From the age of 12-17 I spent all but a few months on inpatient units and as a result of this I didn’t do the ‘normal’ growing up that most teenagers go through and that has had a big impact on my life. Anorexia doesn’t just affect a person physically. It is primarily a mental illness and it is all encompassing. It affects you mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, your family, friends, relationships, education, career and independence.

My battle has taught me that Anorexia does not discriminate. It is not a disease of white middle-class girls as once believed. In treatment I have met females and males, rich and poor, disabled and non-disabled, individuals who are academically gifted and those that struggle, old and young, and people of all races. Anorexia doesn’t care who it chooses as its victims.
I have Autism, which was diagnosed shortly after my first admission, and I believe this was a big factor in me developing Anorexia. There are strong links between Autism and different eating disorders and for me my anorexia gave me everything that my Autism craves; routine, structure, control, obsession. People with Eating Disorders often suffer with co-morbidities and rarely is an eating disorder seen as a problem in isolation, which is why it is important to treat each person as an individual, addressing their spectrum of difficulties as a whole.

As much as obviously I wish this was not the path my life had taken and I wish I did not have this illness, it is important for me to reflect on the good that has come out of it. It has helped make me the strong person I am today. It has taught me that even in your darkest hours when it seems like the end, there is light. It has taught me there’s always something worth fighting for. I have helped write articles, volunteered as a Beat Young Ambassador, done presentations to doctors, nurses, teachers, school children about my story and eating disorders, set up a youth group for teenagers struggling with mental health problems and now I work with a university teaching on their Child Mental Health course and am able to educate students and future healthcare professionals about Eating Disorders. All these things show me that this hasn’t all been worthless. My illness, my battle hasn’t been for nothing.