The thing about mental health is that you can never really know how someone is feeling simply by looking at them. People put on all sorts of masks every day – to feel safe, to feel normal, to stop people telling them to cheer up, it might never happen. I’m fine!
Well, sometimes you’re not. It won’t last forever, but while you’re in that space, it can be very distressing, and sometimes frightening.
Check in on your friends and family. Take time to really listen, to go past the small talk and make a genuine connection. Don’t judge or jump to conclusions. Be kind, and gentle with other people’s hearts. We need that more than ever the way this world seems to be going.
It’s Eating Disorders Awareness Week and I’m supporting the #sockittoeatingdisorders campaign by @beat.eating.disorders.
I was anorexic (and briefly bulimic) the year I turned 15, and I still remember the trigger which was a throwaway comment from my gymnastics coach about how I’d put on weight. I lost nearly 20% of my body weight over that year, could no longer sit without pain as I had no fat left, and my hands could encircle my waist. I recovered and avoided hospitalisation through lots of love from family and close friends. I am no longer anorexic, having learnt to actually love food while at University and in the intervening years to finally love myself too. Which is a good thing, because a few years ago someone in the queue behind me at work commented quietly about me, “So she does eat after all.”
Beat provides support, tackles barriers to desperately needed treatment, and challenges the stigmas around eating disorders. Education and understanding is important – a thoughtless comment in itself might not normally have much significance, but when you’re already battling several psychological factors, sometimes the combined heft is enough to push you over the edge.
So everyone, please be aware, be kind, take care with your words and don’t be afraid to be there to support people when they fall.
You can support Beat in this important work too. If you’re in the UK you can easily donate directly from your mobile phone by texting the code UAUA05 followed by your donation amount to 70070 – for example, to donate £10 text: UAUA05 £10
To anyone who’s battling right now: talk to someone. It’s possible to recover and you are worth the fight.
– Written by Natalie Snodgrass Tan, Quiet Space Ltd