These Women Say Gyms Must Do More To Help Members Who Have Eating Disorders

I’ve been helping Buzzfeed to prepare an in-depth exposure of gym practices . Gyms are full of men and women who strive to be thin (and fit?);  to shave off fat and to build muscle. Some of these people are overdoing exercise, or are too thin to work out. Some men are abusing steroids to beef up. Some gyms encourage this kind of muscle competition and advise people to take all sorts of pills and supplements that may help. This is just one step away from taking steroids, which can kill and maim.

Do gyms have a moral responsibility to single outEllie Hopleypeople who may have an eating disorder, and tell them to stop coming?

Most gyms have a health questionnaire to fill in for members. But I would like to bet that trainers turn a blind eye to people who appear too thin to pound the treadmill or turn up for their daily 2 mile swim. On top of that, many people with life threatening eating disorders like bulimia, don’t look too thin at all.

If one gym expressed concern, I would also bet that an exercise addict with an eating disorder would just go somewhere else.  Should gyms  have a legal responsibility for clients who run on empty?  I think they have a moral duty. Alongside their advertisements for classes, I would like them to have some health posters up, to guide people against exercise addiction and to help people who might have an eating disorder. They could train staff  to talk to people in confidence and show them where to go for help.

People with eating disorders can be their own worst friends. I’ve heard people say; If no-one has taken me aside and worried about me, it means I am not thin enough, so tha’ts one good reason to keep starving. I’ve heard others deny that they have an exercise addiction; they are addicted to their own endorphins. Exercise addiction – are you or aren’t you… that’s another story for another day.

Gyms and for that matter, personal trainers, have a lot to answer for if they don’t know when and how to say “I’m worried about you- would you like to talk about this?”.I know someone who was driven into a serious eating disorder by a personal trainer who did not know what she was doing.

If this article is taken seriously by just one gym, it was worth writing. If you belong to a gym why not go and talk to someone who will be prepared to read it.

Source Buzzfeed

 

Overshadowed: The BBC3 Vlogging Drama Tackling Anorexia

Michelle Fox in Overshadowed

‘Overshadowed’ – the new BBC 3 mini-drama on anorexia, deals with the difficult portrayal of a horrific illness. The series depicts the brutal reality of anorexia without glamourizing the illness.

Something quite unique to this portrayal, which may ring true to many anorexia sufferers, is the personification of the anorexic ‘voice’.  This ‘voice’ is often with the sufferer day and night, speaking to them as loudly and clearly as a real person. As portrayed in ‘Overshadowed’, this voice often starts as a friend – encouraging diet and exercise, praising the sufferer for their weight loss. Many find this comforting. As the illness progresses, the voice turns from friend to foe. The voice becomes critical, malicious. The voice tells the sufferer that they are ‘worthless’ or berates them for ‘lacking willpower’ to practice extreme diet and exercise regimes. It encourages them to distance themselves from friends and family who may be trying to help. Many anorexics will not admit to hearing a voice. But more often than not, it is absolutely there.

NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP) techniques can help sufferers to actually control this voice in a way that other treatments cannot. At the NCFED we are trained to bring the Voice under control.

It is important to note that this mini-series was filmed over just 12 days and the lead actress Michelle Fox, whilst certainly petite, did not lose any weight for this portrayal. Weight-loss type effects were achieved with make-up and clothing. The script was written by Eva O’Connor, who is a recovered anorexic herself, which may explain why this portrayal of the anorexic experience is more accurate than many others. In fact, Eva personally plays the role of the anorexic voice.

If you or a loved one is affected by any of the issues raised in this program, get in touch with the NCFED for help.

Source: BBC Three

Wasting Away: The Truth About Anorexia

 Mark and Maddy Austin in Wasting Away: The Truth About Anorexia.

It is a month since Mark Austin made a TV programme about his daughter Maddy’s anorexia. He has done this to point out how hard it is to get treatment when a child begins to waste away. The Duke of Cornwall got involved as well, but has it changed anything very much- not yet. It was brave of Maddy to take part in this programme. I wonder how she really felt about it. I wonder how she is now, if her anorexic voice has gone away.

Mark and his missus told us a harrowing story about how they coped with Maddy’s anorexia. How his wife had to sleep with Maddy to keep her safe, to make sure that she didn’t die during the night. How he told her to go away and die if that was what she wanted, in frustration at how powerless he felt. There is a line in the book ‘Heart of Darkness’ which speaks to me about anorexia. The Horror; The Horror.

We are all so glad that Maddy found the help she needed at an eating disorder clinic in Surrey which nursed her back to health. But I am left wondering exactly what the nurse practitioner actually did and said to her. So I am left frustrated, wanting to know if there is some sort of secret about anorexia recovery that despite all my years of experience, I haven’t found quite yet.

We had a phone call today from a mother whose daughter has  anorexia for 7 years. They exist in a tormented relationship, mother trying to help, daughter lashing out, sick husband living on the sidelines witness to a daily living hell. For years I felt I didn’t have the courage to work with anorexia, now I do, I am not afraid to face it. I have to go so deep down to find the person who has become its prisoner, and from time to time come to the surface gasping for air. The air is always there.

 

The Guardian

This movie about anorexia is dangerous

Lily Collins, who stars in To the Bone, suffered from an eating disorder as a teenager and lost weight under medical supervision for her role. The trailer for the film has been watched 2m timesThere is a movie about anorexia.

My biggest concern is letting a former sufferer get down to an anorexic weight after she has “recovered”.

My almost less big concern would be letting anyone else thin- down for a part like this. Oh actors do, like Tom Hanks, he got diabetes a few years later.

There are a lot of people who like to voyeur on mental health; we no doubt will see a few more odd movies shortly with purging into toilets or plastic bags or cutting holes out of themselves in the name of public interest. Some people even say it is useful. It destigmatises mental health (no it doesn’t); it inspires people to confess their difficulties (no it doesn’t) and it inspires sufferers to recover (no it doesn’t). I understand that some thinspiration idiots are rubbing their hands with glee about this movie and many might hope to learn some new tricks.

I understand that some people think it will be “triggering”

No doubt I will watch it, otherwise I won’t be able to comment if people ask me about it. But I would rather watch Planet Earth by David Attenborough to lift my spirits, rather than more behaviour which makes me sad and cross. I am exposed to enough human suffering for one lifetime even though my work is my passion, I need other things to remind me of the good and wonderful things in life. Recovery after all, is about tuning into other things in life, not endless infatuation with starving, emaciation, laxatives and purging.

Source: The Times