I was reading BEAT’s (The UK’s leading eating disorders charity) Summer Edition, and was moved to hear that on Tuesday 28 September 2010, they will be holding a service dedication at Southwark Cathedral for those who have lost their lives to eating disorders. While I am well aware of the how serious eating disorders can be, reading this made me stop and reflect. Reflect upon not only why I do what I do, but how important it is that we continue to ask important questions, continue to carry out research, and most of all, continue to challenge society’s views on eating disorders. Despite the raised profile eating disorders have received in recent years, it is still an all too common occurrence to be out with a group of new people where one will say jokingly , ‘Oh…I wish I had a little bit of that Anorexia…’ as they tuck heartily into their meals. I used to take this quite personally – as a disregard for the seriousness of eating disorders. Today, however, I see this more for what I believe it really is: a general ignorance of what it MEANS to have an eating disorder…an ignorance of how it really FEELS to have anorexia or bulimia or binge eating disorder…to truly understand the torture that goes on inside the head of an eating disorders sufferer. Today, I simply respond by saying, ‘I wouldn’t wish an eating disorder on my worst enemy…it’s a agonising way to live.’ This tends to promote a dialogue through which I can educate people and dispel myths. Perhaps the pieces of information that best drive my message home are:
Eating Disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
Eating Disorders are the second highest cause of death in young people after cancer.
Those who have not been directly touched by somebody with an eating disorder are shocked by this reality, and these facts generate the kind of curiosity and questioning needed to change people’s limited views.
If you don’t already know these facts, I encourage you to take them away with you. Remember them. Pass them on. Every one of us can make a difference, help end the ignorance, and help stop more people from dying from eating disorders.
If you would like to attend the memorial at Southwark Cathedral, contact BEAT for more details: http://www.b-eat.co.uk/Events/DedicationService