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  • Writer's pictureHannah Larkin

EDAW 2024

This is my third attempt at writing this as I simply have too much to say and everything I try it doesn’t feel clear enough or explain it well enough and usually ends in a long winded ramble. But I’ll try stick to the point for the sake of making any post at all. This week is Eating disorders awareness week and it’s something although I hate to say close to my heart- quite the opposite really- is something I’m more aware off than I’d ever want to be and has been a struggle of mine for nearly a decade. There’s so much I’d want to make people aware of, explain, educate, share but also so much anger and pain when thinking about what my eating disorder has done to my life and those around me. No words will truly portray quite how much suffering both directly and indirectly having an eating disorder has caused. But I do want to try and find the words to talk about it when I feel there’s so much people just don’t understand , professionals included, until your really living through it/alongside it.   Eating disorders are so frequently a coping mechanism and therefore the actually route of the issue and suffering and lack of support or help for that tends to be the real bad unaddressed problem. Eating disorders create a world where both from a physical mental and emotional sense, all you can think and worry about is food/shape/weight etc.

They can block out almost everything and therefore the ability to even see that that’s what is happening until it’s too late and facing the damage and mess you’ve ignored makes not needing a way to numb yourself is almost impossible without a lot of support and strength. Trying to get rid of and eating disorder without addressing or at least finding the route cause of needing a way of coping, can often make a person cling even harder to it as the one thing that makes life less scary is stripped from you. A familiar hell over an unfamiliar heaven. They are an anxiety disorder, addiction, biological response and socities conditioning (+ more) all rolled into one. As soon as you try and stop using them to cope, your faced with the ability to think/feel/see the mess and chaos that led you to not cope as well as the damage you’re blinded to when unwell. Unlitnialty making you struggle to cope and want to revert back to something safe, comforting, familiar. Eating disorders are deadly but they canalso  an feel like the only way to exist in a world where you don’t know how to and don’t have the words explain that you can’t, people to see that you aren’t or tools to find other ways to do so.

Only recently I have started to understand why I have relied and needed an eating disorder to cope and still battle with not using it to do so- and that’s with a huge amount of awareness that eating disorders truly are just hell. I frequently get angry that for so long I was labelled a chronic anorexic and told to manage my eating disorder and find ways to live alongside it instead of ever really exploring why I was so scared to face the world without it. There’s a lot of pain and trauma for me and those who’ve lived alongside my eating disorder that will take a lot of time to heal from, with all our lives being hugely changed by it.

But I often spiral into overthinking that if the real things I was struggling back at 13 were ever pinned down, could so much of that suffering been avoided? But the dilemma it’s often due to their complexities, it can be almost impossible to figure out and address the issues until enough physical and nutritional progress is made as well time taken to support those struggling to ever feel safe enough to let go.

If you are struggling, I really hope you know that there are ways of coping that don’t mean punishing your body and even if it feels to scary to change and take that risk of coping without it, you have the strength to do so and believing that you can will take you further than any therapy, support system or treatment. It doesn’t make you weak to say I can’t cope and it doesn’t make you a bad person to turn to something that numbs that inability to. But there are other ways and you do deserve a life where you are supported and listened to without needing food to communicate things really aren’t okay. And if you know someone struggling, creating a safe space to feel listened to and supported with whatever is feeling to hard to cope with is sometimes the most helpful and only thing you can do.

Sorry for this ramble, as I said, it’s hard to write when there’s so much to say and such an desperation in me to try and say it all or it’s not worth saying. But if I manage to work on articulating I hope sharing some of that may help people understand or feel less alone in their own struggle 💙

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