Mental Health Awareness Week 2013: Eating Disorders as a Mental Illness

As it is Mental Health Awareness Week 2013 (13 – 19th May) I wanted to touch upon the subject of eating disorders as a mental health issue.

Many people have a vague view of eating disorders and do not understand it very clearly. As a sufferer, it angers me when people think it is all about wanting to be ‘skinny’ and ‘perfect’. That is not the reason at all. It is not a diet. It is a psychological issue and more about the way we think and feel, rather than our physique itself.

Usually, eating disorder sufferers have an underlying problem deep inside, which makes them become self destructive. Anorexia and Bulimia as well as other disordered eating is a form of addiction, just like alcoholism and drug addiction. When something traumatic has happened in their life, be it in the past or present, some may use food and eating to have some control back into their lives and make them feel better about themselves, in which it really is not a healthy way to react. It is very addictive and dangerous.

The more weight they lose, the more successful and ‘in control’ the sufferer will feel. Eating disorders can be caused by sexual abuse, bullying, loneliness and all sorts of traumatic experiences. They want their weight to be as low as they are feeling. They want to be seen ugly, not attractive, because of how they are feeling about themselves. They do not like themselves, therefore they want to destroy themselves. It is not about being perfect whatsoever.

It can lead to depression and self harm and many eating disorder sufferers are vulnerable to self harm. Eating disorders is a way of self harm anyway, because it is destructive. There is a sense of pleasure about wanting to destroy yourself. It is a serious mental health issue which only intense treatment can cure.

Unfortunately, as it is a mental health issue, most sufferers cannot be fully cured depending on how long they have had it. If they go through a bad patch in their lives, they could resort back to the eating disorder because as I mentioned before, it is about gaining a sense of control back into their lives and feeling good about themselves when everything around them is falling apart.

Eating disorders should not be taken lightly. It is a serious problem which destroys many peoples’ lives and has to be treated straight away at the first sign, before it is too late. The earlier it is treated, the less the sufferer will be consumed by it and haunted by it in their later life.

Until you have not addressed what the underlying problem is, then unfortunately, the eating disorder will keep on growing. You have got to understand what has caused the problem in the first place in order to get better once and for all.

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