Friday, 28 February 2014

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Hey beauties, today's post will be a little off topic, well very off topic to be honest. But, this is something close to me and, especially this week, something I'd really like to help raise awareness of.

Now, most of you probably aren't aware (or you might be, sorry for presuming!) that this week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, a week devoted to raising awareness of the various Eating Disorders that occur all over the world, affecting many boys and girls of all ages, and to challenge the stereotypes and the stigma that goes with the label "Eating Disorder".

Eating Disorders are serious mental illnesses that effect 1.6million people in the UK, and claim more lives than any other mental illness. Even so, they are treatable and recovery is definitely possible. Unfortunately there is little awareness of these illnesses other than what the media can portray which, most of the time, isn't the reality, so this week is in pursuit of changing the awful stereotypes that can come with having an Eating Disorder.

Types of Eating Disorders

There are various types of Eating Disorders, all equally dangerous and life-threatening.

  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Bulimia Nervosa
  • EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified)
  • Binge Eating Disorder
  • Special Eating Issues (more specific issues, such as Diabulimia the act of a Type 1 Diabetics intentionally restricting their insulin intake to aid weight loss)
Eating Disorder Stereotypes

Having battled various Eating Disorders over the past year, and currently, I have had many unfortunate incidents regarding stereotypes and ignorance towards Eating Disorders, this is another reason why I wanted to make this post to help NEDA and their cause.

  • "All People With Eating Disorders Are Skinny"
Completely 100% FALSE. Statistics show that 1/3 of people with an Eating Disorder are underweight, 1/3 are of a normal weight range, and 1/3 are overweight. A quote I think describes this situation perfectly is "you can not judge a persons health based on their size" this is appropriate in this sense, and otherwise as well.

  • "All People With Eating Disorders Are Vain"
I have never heard a more ridiculous statement, it is a mental illness that sufferers cannot help, it barely has anything to do with being vain and how they look, I cannot speak for all sufferers but it can be to do with having a need for control, in an ever changing and uncontrollable world, the only thing one can control is their food intake and their weight, and that's what they can lean to. It's highly insensitive and very ignorant to believe in the comment above. But there are various different triggers for an Eating Disorders and effect people in different ways.

  • "All People With Eating Disorders Are Girls"
Erroneous, 10-15% of Eating Disorder cases are males, this is simply a stereotype because the media aren't as interested in the male Eating Disorder cases. Again, connecting to the 'vanity' stereotype, it is seen as a girl's disease for this reason. Which makes it harder for boys suffering to seek the help and treatment that they desperately need, which is why this stereotype needs to be addressed and corrected.

  • "All Bulimics Throw Up"
False, Bulimia is characterised by binge eating episodes followed by purging, and there are different types of purging, there is self-induced vomiting, but there is also laxative abuse, and compulsive, over-exercise.

  • "Binge Eating Disorder Isn't Serious Like Anorexia/Bulimia"
Ridiculous, it is a recognised mental illness and carries the same health issues and dangers as the more publicised Eating Disorders. Sufferers can experience heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and depression.

Another point to make, I feel, is that because it's a mental illness it carries a lot of stigma, especially for people who don't fully understand the condition. I know I'm guilty of this before I became ill, how many times have you heard of someone being sectioned/having psychiatric treatment and thinking to yourself, or gossiping, "nutjob" "mental case" "crazy", and that is due to nothing more than ignorance. And that is why the awareness week is set up, to make sure people are getting fully educated on the matter. The picture above does not mean I feel psychiatric illness need more awareness and more funding than other life-threatening conditions, but they at least deserve the same, that's what I find unfair to be honest.

I really could go on and on, but I literally would be typing for days. These stereotypes are very damaging to sufferers and their self-esteem, and they are adding to an already deteriorating knowledge of what an Eating Disorder really is. 

I fully support NEDA's week to raise awareness for Eating Disorders, and if you would like to learn more about the various types of Eating Disorders and any associated disorders please visit the following websites as they are a great learning resource, or if you are suffering and would like to know how and where to get help and support

Many thanks to those who have read this, it's a subject close to me and my life and it's an important issue that needs to be publicised.

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