When I tentatively ‘came out’, after 40-plus years confined to a prison in the mind, I discovered many benefits in sharing my story in supportive and safe environments. The biggest reward was self-belief…a life essential that had been quashed by my eating disorder, and by the stigma and shame that goes with it. It has led to seven books, candidature in a PhD and this article.
To know that someone believes in you, the Real You, is the best possible self-affirming medicine. Patient-centred care is increasing, and for many good reasons. Researchers and clinicians know that when they listen to the patient, they learn clues about how to understand the illness and how to provide solutions. It’s a win-win situation — we help them and they help us. More than this, together we help others.
This post is particularly for people affected by an eating disorder and who are feeling alone in their struggles. I encourage you to reach out in a supportive environment and share your story. I want you to know you are not alone in how you think and feel, that there is indeed, hope and help available, and that your life, your story, does count. You can get better, bite by bite, and allow True You to shine through.
Start Right Now
Are you a clinician, carer or former patient or client with experience of an inpatient eating disorder service? If so, click on this link to find out how the sharing of your experience can help improve eating disorder treatment services for others. This new research, from Curtin University in Western Australia, seeks participants worldwide. Your voice counts!
I have written nine books about eating disorders since my recovery (my “reconnection with true self”) from anorexia nervosa and other long term mental health challenges in 2006. In 2017, I graduated as a Doctor of Philosophy (Creative Writing). My contribution to the eating disorder field was recognised at the 2016 Academy for Eating Disorders International Conference in San Francisco where I was awarded the Meehan/Hartley Award for Public Service and Advocacy. I am currently a co-chair of the NEDC Steering Committee Evidence of Experience Group, a foundation steering committee member of the annual World Eating Disorders Action Day, and an Advisory Panel member for F.E.A.S.T.