Guest Article: Eating Disorders, by Ebony Leigh

Lanugo and Laxatives – The Dark Side of a Glamorized Illness
Eating Disorders are among the most fatal and devastating mental illnesses a person could be unlucky enough to ever develop. A devastating illness with countless mental and physical consequences. Eating disorders, of any form, are Hell on Earth – not just for sufferers, but the loved ones of anyone suffering with them.
With UK eating disorder charity “Beat” estimating that around 1.6 million people in the UK are sufferers of some form of eating disorder, and figures believed to be much higher (as so many people live undiagnosed) I find myself upset and frustrated that I only learned more than what the media portrayed about eating disorders after developing an eating disorder myself.
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Of a range of people I spoke to on an eating disorder ‘support site’, that has been a great help for me through my bouts of relapse and recovery, our only real similarity was that we were all sufferers of some sort of eating disorder. Whether the disorder was AN (Anorexia Nervosa), Atypical Anorexia (similar to Anorexia, only the sufferer doesn’t meet all the criteria for AN diagnosis), Binge Eating Disorder or the most commonly diagnosed eating disorder, OSFED (Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders), we all shared similar frustrations about media portrayal and stigmas of eating disorders.
“I wish people knew that you don’t have to throw up every single meal or eat nothing, or weigh 70lbs to have an eating disorder. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to live with, and its an illness that doesn’t discriminate,” said one sufferer when asked about her thoughts regarding the stigmas of eating disorders.
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Tragically, eating disorders have always been portrayed as an illness exclusively for teenage girls, with a goal weight to make their illness valid. In reality, eating disorders are so much more than their stigma. I have met people from all walks of life with all kinds of different eating and feeding disorders, proving that ED’s really don’t discriminate. People of all colours and ethnicities, ages, lifestyles and genders; all of whom agree that the stigmas surrounding unhealthy relationships with food and body image are a huge part of the problem.
There is no glamorous veneer to having an eating disorder of any kind, yet so many of the physical and psychological downfalls of these terrible diseases only seem to be heard about by people suffering themselves. Social awareness could be so helpful in both offering support for sufferers and spotting the signs of the illness without the sufferer having to be at a dangerously low weight before getting any support – but it just doesn’t exist.
When asked about side effects of their various eating disorders, the people I spoke to had a range of different answers which I myself would not even know about, had I not been suffering too. Things like lanugo, cyanosis due to malnourishment and poor circulation, osteoporosis and shockingly common but almost never talked about laxative addiction.
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If these all mean nothing to you, educating yourself and breaking the stigma of eating disorders are a huge step in providing support to all sufferers, but eating disorders and complex and individual to each sufferer.
“Eating disorders are killing thousands of sufferers worldwide and good treatment is almost non-existent.”
                                            Written by Ebony Leigh and published by Next Generation Blogs                                                                   Dedicated to Tori

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