The stigma surrounding eating disorders is a very complex and dangerous thing.
When people think of an eating disorder, they think of someone who is severely
underweight and needs to be hospitalized; but that is not the case.
In many cases, it is commonly viewed that an eating disorder is a choice and
can easily be taken care of, when in reality it is a serious psychological disorder that
can cause significant physical, mental, emotional, and social impairment. Anorexia
Nervosa has the highest fatality rate of any psychiatric disorder. The overall mortality
rate for an eating disorder is 20% and the risk of premature death for women with
Anorexia Nervosa is up to twelve times higher than the general population. The stigma
surrounding eating disorders is a significant barrier to seeking help. Right now,
research shows that current access to treatment for eating disorders is alarmingly low,
with only 22% of sufferers receiving specialist treatment for their eating disorder.
Eating disorders are often sensationalized by the media as celebrity ‘diets’. The
starting point to ending the stigma is to build community awareness of these illnesses.
There must be a change in attitude before we can begin the process of eliminating this
deadly stigma and its consequences. Someone with an eating disorder is unlikely to be
seeking help, it is imperative that we build community and individual awareness of the
warning signs and an understanding of just how important is is for the person to
receive support and treatment. Acting on the warning signs can have a marked
influence on the severity and duration of the illness. Everyday is a struggle and not
everyday is the same as the last. When dealing with something as complex as this, not
everyone is going to have the same struggle. Every disorder is different and so is
everyone who is suffering from one. It is considered that if you are underweight and
suffering from an eating disorder; you go to the hospital, but if you are not underweight
and suffering from an eating disorder; you are a success story. I want to help people
better understand these disorders and how different they can be from person to
person. With the way eating disorders are being displayed in this world, it’s going to be
hard to have people seek help when needed.
Usually when people think of an eating disorder, they just think of anorexia. They
use the term ‘anorexia’ as a descriptive word. Having anorexia is NOT a physical
appearance, it is a mental illness. People don’t understand that these are deadly
illnesses with one of the highest fatality rates. We are put into this box and left there, as
if nothing will get better for us. There are days where you can be okay with eating, and
then there are days where you can’t even look at food. This isn’t something that can
just go away. Things can get better with time, recovery is possible. Of course, it won’t
be easy to just start feeling acceptance...