16th August 2019
14/07/19. It was a standard morning: I woke up at 8AM, having paced in the living room till 2AM; I boiled the kettle and made a coffee (black with two sweeteners or bust!), and I practiced some ashtanga vinyasa yoga to little success. Think new-born giraffe crossed with ungraceful walrus. But I couldn’t have imagined – fathomed, even – that this would be the day I decided to make a change (again). That I had decided to recover (again). But, this time, I meant it. I meant it and I will scream it with my entire chest:
One month later, A Sparrow Salutes to the Moon was released. Available worldwide on Amazon, and split into seven comprehensive sections, this book is designed to help relatives and friends better understand their loved one's eating disorder (be it anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating disorder, OSFED/EDNOS, or orthorexia). It also serves as an engaging resource for someone interested in the internal and external impact of various eating disorders, delving into areas such as symptoms and causes.
This book aims to defeat the stigma and widespread misrepresentations in the mainstream media that surround this life-threatening mental illness, such as the notion that eating disorders cannot affect people of higher weights (despite the fact that 80% of those with an eating disorder are NOT underweight), and that online communities hinder eating disorder recovery far more than they help it. Such ignorance in this field means that many individuals are deterred from seeking professional help or confiding in (offline) friends and family for fear of not being taken seriously. But also, this book gives pointers in the recovery process and ways to get started. Eating disorders have been a taboo subject for too long. Too many people have passed.
The thing is, I have never been underweight (but have experienced awful symptoms like heart palpitations and losing my period) and, as such, close relatives and friends didn’t have a clue I’d been struggling with an eating disorder for years. It took a public outpouring (by means of my first poetry collection, mulberries in rye, which tackles feminism and sexuality with undertones of mental health awareness) for people to see my suffering.
In truth, this fatal illness does not discriminate. It can (and does) affect the traditional waifish stereotype, but it also can (and does) affect the working class, those who are not able-bodied, all gender identities in or outside the normative binaries, queer individuals, all ethnicities and races, and all age groups. In fact, despite the emphasis on a desired “low body weight” in the anorexia nervosa diagnostic criteria, anorexia encompasses various subtypes (some that do not require the sufferer to be underweight) including atypical anorexia.
If my work could help one person reach out for support, or help one parent better understand their child’s illness, then I have done my job.
(If you’d like to reach out to enquire about the book in a professional capacity, I am most readily contactable through my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org, but can also be contacted by telephone: 07526639781. If you’re just looking for a chat or someone who can relate to your experiences, my Instagram is @sarahmorrishpoetry.)