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Eating disorders awareness week 2020 (2nd to 8th of March)....carers need support too...

9th March 2020

This week is eating disorders awareness week and b-eat the national eating disorder charity runs helplines for sufferers and carers.

I've suffered with eating disorders since I was about 12, I was 21 when I accepted it was a problem and needed help with it, not that asking for help actually got me the help I needed at that time. So it was my parents who supported me the most, it is not the easiest illness to deal with, the main thing we ever argued about was food if anyone confronted me about it, so I can't thank my parents enough for always sticking by me even at my worst. Fortunately, we found a good eating disorder support group in Hull called SEED run by Marg and Den Oaten that support carers and sufferers of eating disorders and I am so grateful for the support they gave us over the years that my mum and I went to the groups.

When my bulimia was bad and I still lived with my parents we even had a locked food cupboard that they kept sweets etc. In as you become like a food addict. It's not even like you really like the food you have a love /hate relationship with it. I constantly have a voice in my head that says all food is bad and should be avoided at all costs as I hate myself for being too fat (even times over the years I was a lower weight I still thought I was too fat) but obviously rationally I know we all need food to live, so you end up restricting food until it gets to the point your so hungry you crave sugar and are so hungry you binge on crap food. For the best part of 16 years, I was sick daily. I also took diet pills and laxatives. It takes over your life but also the lives of those closest to you. It has affected my physical and mental health, even nearly dying and having to have a heart pacemaker didn't stop me, at that time I wasn't suicidal. As the years went on it got to a point I did get suicidal as I thought I couldn't live with my eating disorder anymore and the self-hating thoughts made me think I deserved to be dead, a thought I acted on many times, so I am lucky to be alive and would love to have a mental health free life.

I would like to say I have had effective help and am recovered; unfortunately, that is not the case. Weight does not show what is going on inside someone’s head. I am rarely sick now as I worry about it affecting my voice for singing so I am more in a cycle of restricting and eating once a day then feeling guilty about that. It was only the other week I did actually end up self-harming over feeling guilty about a jacket potato. I do try and fight the thoughts with my rational ones but sometimes especially when I'm struggling with low mood it is harder and they are the times the rest of my mental health gets worse. However, I am not giving up hope. I want to get to a point of being able to eat regular structured meals and not worry about food. I did ask for help with meal planning (something that has helped me in the past when I worked with an eating disorders specialist but only got 20 sessions of CBT for eating disorders for what then was a 10 year plus problem so I needed more) but the dietetics department say they can't deal with anyone with an eating disorder and eating disorders services won't help me either because I also have personality disorders. So I will keep trying myself and focus on the other positive life goals I have, spending quality time with my gorgeous horse Warwick, choir gigs, socialising more with old and new friends, I am doing a distance learning course in child and adolescent mental health and am hoping to do some volunteer work this year alongside a group therapeutic community I go to which is a group therapy 3 days a week to help people with personality disorders manage their emotions in healthier ways ( they tell me being able to manage emotions better will help my eating disorder and self-harm which I rarely do nowadays). I want to one day be able to get back to work helping other people with mental health problems as I used to. I was going to train as a mental health nurse and if I had been helped myself I wouldn't have got to a point I was so suicidal I was sectioned for a year in a locked hospital where again I got no therapy.

Eating disorders affect people of all shapes and sizes but there is help mostly from charities such as Beat and SEED as NHS eating disorder services are stretched so only treat people who are very low weights with anorexia who do not have any other mental health problems such as personality disorders as then they are classed as too complex. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rates of all mental health disorders either directly from the eating disorder or suicide so more help is needed, I am one of the lucky ones...”There’s still a fight left in me"... My weight has fluctuated over the years but my head hasn't (an antidepressant called mirtazapine and heart failure caused me to gain about 4 stone which I'm now struggling to lose)...on most of the pictures below I was being sick daily, a smile can hide a lot, all of the pictures are at happy times yet the eating disorder was always there, you don't have to look like an emaciated anorexic to be suffering...

You can read more of Tracy's blogs on her blogspot page.

Tracy Crossley