I liken my life to that of a cicada, an insect that lives underground in the dark for many years, before emerging into the light for a brief and noisy appearance.
Upon receiving the Meehan/Hartley Award for Public Service and Advocacy, at the Academy of Eating Disorders ICED, I was allowed two minutes in the limelight on stage in which to stay ‘thank you’ on behalf of all people, everywhere in the world, who has, or has had an eating disorder. This is what I said:
My Aussie family can’t be here today, so I’ve brought a little mate from home to share
this moment–my first diary, drawn upon in my memoir, A Girl called Tim. Our relationship began at age 11, the same year anorexia developed.
I was ‘underground’ with my eating disorder for 44 years until age 55. My diary was my refuge. When I broke free and surfaced, in 2006, I wanted to share my story because I did not want others to suffer like me.
The diary helped smooth the transition from the deeply private, isolated world into the mainstream and public world and it was only then I discovered this world of research, treatments, and support groups giving hope in the eating disorder field. So now, besides telling my story, I wanted others to know about your great work, let them know they are not alone, and give hope.
I especially thank Claire, Founder of the Butterfly Foundation in Australia, who in 2007, upon hearing of my desire to DO something, drew my attention to Daniel’s evidence-based research with Family Based Treatment. I immediately thought: ‘I wish this support for families had been around when I was a kid’.
Daniel and I together wrote My Kid is Back. I wanted today’s children to have every chance of getting their life back quickly with early intervention, and for families to be unified and strengthened, not isolated and destroyed like mine, by an eating disorder.
From this, other books have flowed. Eight in 10 years. See most of them here.
Many of you here today, have contributed to them. Thank you.
Many people not here today, your patients, also have contributed.
Inclusion of the patient’s voice, to cite Janet Treasure, is ‘like sprinkling a little fairy dust’ on your research findings.
Take home message
Listen to your patients. Help them find their voice. Include them. Never give up. Keep a diary.
It can be a helper and bridge builder too. There is only one rule. Write a date. This will help your evidence base. There are many tips in my upcoming book, The Diary Healer. It includes many voices, voices of patients, from around the world. The cicadas are singing loudly.
About the Meehan/Hartley Award for Public Service and/or Advocacy
In receiving the Meehan/Hartley Award, I feel deeply honoured to join a list of people I admire greatly, and have been inspired by for years, in the eating disorders community.
The AED website explains this award is made to members of the eating disorders community (whether or not they are AED members) who have demonstrated leadership and service in the public domain, driving services, policy, public awareness or action for sufferers and/or carers. Wonderful previous winners comprise:
2015 Chevese Turner
2014 Laura Collins
2013 Karine Berthou
2012 Mary Beth Krohel
2011 Cynthia Bulik
2010 Mary Tantillo
2008 Susan Ringwood
2007 Kitty Westin and Claire Vickery
2006 Michael Levine, PhD, FAED
2005 David Herzog, MD
World Eating Disorders Action Day, June 2
An historic world eating disorder advocacy event will take place on June 2. A 100 per cent voluntary steering committee, on which I server as major blogger gatherer, is working with many helpers comprising amazingly dedicated team members from around the world. We are all working to help bring home important messages to the world about eating disorders with the aim of inspiring understanding, awareness and action at all levels. It’s exciting
Join me in supporting World Eating Disorders Action Day. Be sure to follow along on twitter @WorldEDDay and hashtag #WeDoAct, #WorldEDActionDay, @WorldEatingDisordersAction on Instagram and World Eating Disorders Action Day on Facebook.
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.