I want to introduce you to the world of mental health; did you know that you probably know someone who has, or is experiencing a mental health issue? Yes: one in four people will suffer from a mental health issue during their lifetime.
I want to look at eating disorders and body image. Ironically, media has been known to blame the fashion industry for these problems. However, they are just one contributing factor among many that can lead to an eating disorder.
‘Eating disorder’ is a term used for anorexia nervosa, wherein people starve themselves, some people may misuse laxatives, some make themselves sick. They may also exercise to extremes. The same term can be applied to bulimia nervosa. This is where a person goes on a purge, starvation or binge cycle. Both male and female can suffer from these debilitating disorders. It is not simply a ‘youth’ disease. Eating disorders can develop for many reasons, including low self esteem, abuse and family issues.
One factor that does not help people with an eating disorder are the websites known as ‘pro-ana’ sites, which many suffered use as a source of information and support. But they also show how to lose more weight and give tips on hiding the condition, with pictures of sufferers showing how they ‘need’ to lose more weight. While it is usually argued that they are not a good source for the sufferer to access, it has been said by sufferers that the websites provide comfort and a sense of belonging.
Below is a short piece written by an ex-sufferer who wishes to remain anonymous, but wanted to let others know the results of having had an eating disorder in the past, when they were in their late teens-early 20s:
“I just wanted to write about the after effects of living with an eating disorder. I started to develop it when I was about 13 years old. It hit its peak between the ages of 18-22. I am now in my late 30s and no longer suffer from this illness. However I cannot have children and I live with osteoarthritis – I am one of the lucky ones. Others have developed heart problems, or have died. Please I plead with you to get help if you think you are suffering from this illness.”
Many people do not understand this illness and think that people should “just eat something”. This attitude will not help the person. If you or someone you know suffers from this illness then please do contact Student Minds on campus. They run an eating disorders support group that can help you. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The articles are not in place of any professional advice. If you need this please do contact your GP who will refer you for professional help.