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"Just Eat It"


Mental health still has a stigma attached to it. Sadly I think more so for boys than girls and this needs to change. We need to learn to talk more openly about our struggles without being worried that others will judge us. I have had a turbulent relationship with my mental health, and that is ok and I now find comfort and confidence in talking about it. But believe me there was a time where I would have rather chopped off my right trotter than talk about it (hard to believe I know seeing as I’m blabbing on about it on here.) Eating disorders are somewhat a bit of a taboo topic and make people feel uncomfortable and I don’t blame them. In my opinion this is caused by a lack of knowledge. My goal is to make it a open conversation – without the awkwardness. Eating disorders are a mental health problem like any other, not a lifestyle choice.


I struggled with and still do struggle an eating disorder, specifically anorexia during GCSEs and part of my A levels. My sister also had anorexia before this but was in recovery when I started to lose weight. I think that food had always been a big deal in my family. I was a larger than I am now when I was younger, my proudest moment was being the anchor in the tug of war on sports day in year 4 – WOOF! The pinnacle of my sporting career I reckon! I was perfectly comfortable in my own skin and didn’t really give it a second thought, which is the way it should be.


I can’t say there was a specific incident that changed this. More of gradual change in the way I thought about food and the correlation it had to the way I looked around about GCSE time. Basically I became really vain, obsessed with the way I looked, always wanting to be thinner, striving towards the “perfect body” which, in itself, is a phrase I find so triggering but will talk about another time. I think to start with it was a way of trying to regain control where I had none. I put massive pressure on myself to get good grades, as teachers had frequently told me I wouldn’t do well and I felt I couldn’t control this. This made me fixated on food as it was the only thing I felt I could control. I remember having the thought process of “you don’t deserve to eat unless you get straight A’s.” I basically cut out anything that had a substance and effectively wasted away, but in my mind it was ok because I didn’t think I was losing weight and I thought this internal pressure would subside once I had received my exam results.


My eating disorder was like a safety blanket as I always had it to hide behind and it was always the one thing I could control. I became addicted to losing weight. People saying you’ve lost weight made me feel good, an adrenaline rush that is hard to explain. I thrived off it.


When I look back of photos of myself I honestly just see a shell of a person, someone I no longer know. I find it hard to believe I would look at myself and think I wasn’t thin enough. Because I now look back and see the person everyone else saw. Those few years were my worst, I was miserable, wouldn’t go to any social events and tried to push everyone closest to me away.


I was like this until someone said to me “are you ok” – this was my so called realisation point, where I first accepted there was an issue and actually I wasn’t ok. For me and others that have had a similar experiences with eating disorders this is the best way to try and help a friend who may be going through a similar experience, rather than saying “just eat it”. This is probably one of the most unhelpful things that people can say to someone with an eating disorder, yet the most frequently said. I think a lot of people struggle to comprehend eating disorders, their lack of knowledge leads to a kind of frustration which often manifests itself into upfront approaches such as saying “just eat it” as though it will give you a magical urge to eat a Maccies.


I don’t blame them, most people do not know how to deal with someone going through this. It can be awkward and uncomfortable, especially when it’s someone close to you. But please don’t say “just eat it.” Trust me, they would if they could.


I think that people get scared to approach the topic, worried that the person going through it will get angry or tell you to fu*k off. But this is exactly how I now think of it (and would advise you to think about it) when I think someone may be struggling. What’s the worse they can do? Tell me to piss off? I doubt it! (Louis Spence, I love you) I mean, I’ll take it if it means that they know I care. More often than not you will get a good reception.


I know it may seem uncomfortable but it really shouldn’t be. Personally, I only have experiences of disordered eating, but I hope this can reach any of you who are struggling, no matter the issue.


Check in on your loved ones, and squash the stigma around mental health.


All my love,

P




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