With eating disorder awareness week from 25 February to 3 March, society shows it cares about this tragic illness. There will be fund raising events at hospitals and by companies such as BEAT’s Sock It campaign and opportunities for people to join in events in their local areas.

When you are struggling within the grip of an eating disorder, you may feel very alone. But this is an illness that a lot of people in society care about, enough to raise money, raise awareness and make it an annual event in February.

Eating Disorders Awareness Week from 25 February to 3 March is when all eating disorders treatment providers, charities and people affected by the condition, especially families, can put this topic right at the top of the agenda for GPs, NHS policy makers, the Media and society.

Ellern Mede received a special message from a former patient she particularly wanted to share with you all, as well as with the treatment team, as she begins her own campaign, and a bold mission indeed – to launch a new eating disorders service in her home area. This person’s campaigns will be public, but we are nevertheless protective of anonymity. This young woman now in her early twenties, writes: “I wanted to share hope and inspire another individual to keep soldiering on and to tell them it is possible to live free again. Eating disorders deserve compassion, rights respected, understanding and as little trauma as possible. I have the gift of knowledge and experience from what I went through that others may not have yet if they are suffering.”

“Thank you and all the staff at Ellern Mede for giving me the tools I use to keep myself well today. You saved my life twice and I have never been so grateful for this gift of life. The work you do is crucial in this world where vulnerability is met with social media, trauma, and harmful behaviours leading to severe distress, which could be an eating disorder. I will never forget you guys. I now walk around feeling free, there is no place for anorexia in my life anymore. Even if it creeps up again I have the tools to send it away and that creates a stronger force each and every time you stand up to it.”

“I will never forget what I went through but I know have this passion inside to help others because of it.” Ellern Mede has the permission from the author to post her full letter to mark the week, so look out for that.

Sharing these opinions with the rest of the team, our Medical Director, Dr Hind Al-Khairulla wrote: “No words…. but for each and every one of you to remember how amazing you all are in giving back to others the best gift ever… “the gift of life”. Please wear this and other testimonials as a medallion of pride to help you through the many battles we are yet to overcome!”

What better way to address this international awareness event about anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, avoidant restrictive food disorders and related conditions that are so individual, that even now they defy categorisation.

Early intervention – why wait?

A key theme of this week from its organisers is to ask the question: “Why Wait”? BEAT research has shown that on average, 149 weeks pass before people seek help. YouGov did a survey conducted for this Eating Disorders Awareness Week and found that although this condition is written about a great deal, 34% UK adults in the poll, had difficulty actually naming any signs or symptoms of the condition and we realise this is a key challenge if we are to encourage people to go to their GP at the earliest stage to get treatment. We need to raise awareness of the signs and make it a conversation that is easier to have, regardless of the length or severity of symptomology.

You can find out more about the signs of eating disorders on our website for each specific condition. For example, on anorexia, read https://ellernmede.org/eating-disorders-information/anorexia-treatment/

For more information from BEAT, see https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/tips