Eating disorder awareness week aims to bring attention to disorders that make sufferers feel invisible and get them quicker access to treatment.
From February 27 to March 5, Beat, a UK organisation that provides support for sufferers, used this week to raise awareness. They started a petition which aims to get quicker referrals for specialist treatment when a GP notices early symptoms of an eating disorder.
A report commissioned by Beat in 2015, showed that an estimate of more than 725,000 people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder.
Rebecca Robson, 24, from Washington, Sunderland is one of the many sufferers fighting anorexia. She has battled with her eating disorder since she was four years old and posts frequently online about her battle and her journey to recovery. She said:
“People don’t seem to understand at times, it’s more than just gaining weight, it’s fighting with the whole “I can’t eat that”.
It’s mental as well as physical, you fight one while the other is fighting you.”
Eating disorder awareness week has been a big part of Rebecca’s journey, this week she has been using the hashtag #EatingDisorderAwarenessWeek to get her story out to people battling similar illnesses.
“I’m glad of this week, it gives people who are recovering a chance to tell others of their story, each person has a different one.
This week has actually made me more determined to gain more weight.” She stated.
This week helps many sufferers by showing them the help that is available. Beat is attempting to remove the stigma around eating disorders and is trying help people understand the impact they have on peoples lives.
A spokesman for Beat said: “Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that can affect anyone of any age, gender, or background. There are many myths and stereotypes that can lead to sufferers being overlooked or the severity of their illness being disregarded.
It’s vital that we work to combat these stereotypes and push for fast access to effective treatment.
While we do this all year round, a dedicated awareness week provides the chance to really put the issue of eating disorders in the spotlight, and to draw attention to specific issues, such as the important role that GPs play.”
Beat hopes that from this year’s awareness week, they will be able to push forward for better and faster treatment and diagnosis for sufferers to help get them a better quality of life.
Rebecca, who has benefited greatly from the treatments available to eating disorder sufferers, finally said:
“My advice is don’t give up. The light at the end of the tunnel seems so far away but before you know it you’ll be through it. Fighting an eating disorder is one of the hardest things I’ve ever faced.
You may feel like everyone in the world doesn’t understand, but just know people are fighting the same fight at the same time as you.”
For more information or help on eating disorders go to Beat’s website here or phone the helpline on 0808 801 0677.