aim in this article is to demystify anorexia in five hundred words.
Well, perhaps not.
have been too many equally ambitious attempts to categorise and
understand eating disorders. Whether we are referring to psychoanalysis
or Channel Four's 'Body Image' programmes, disordered eating remains
sufferers can find themselves alienated from their own bodies
by this illness; it consumes them physically and mentally, eating
away at their self-confidence, as well as their ability to rationalise
or objectify their illness.
reasons that anorexia surfaces in some people and not in others
also remains uncertain. Hypotheses relating eating disorders
to an anorexia gene or to prolonged exposure to overly thin
models in magazines are sensationalist and ludicrous.
relating eating disorders to an anorexia gene...are sensationalist
same can be said about misguided comments such as, "there
are two types of anorexia, the vanity kind and the ill kind".
attitudes such as these succeed only in maintaining the stigma
attached to disordered eating. With so much curiosity over this
type of illness, one would imagine that the provision of expert
health care for sufferers would be a priority. The reality is
that access to decent medical attention can be a lottery.
Cambridge, your G.P. effectively determines the quality of your
enlightened doctors can simply prescribe anti-depressants and
send sufferers away. This merely masks the disease. Even
if you are fortunate enough to have a more progressive doctor,
the waiting list for therapy can be as long as six months on the
you or a friend is in this situation there are other options available
to you. Within your college you could speak with your Student
Union Welfare Officer, your Women's Officer, your Tutor or your
with your G.P, if the person you speak to is not an expert, they
may not be able to give you the most helpful advice.
available is the University Counselling Service (UCS). All their
services are free and there is a wide range of counsellors who
will be able to help you. To make an initial assessment appointment,
e-mail, phone or 'drop in' on the service.
any of these options, however, depends upon the individual being
able to acknowledge that they are ill.
has been repeatedly linked to high achievers, which makes
it a particularly relevant issue for Cambridge students.
One of the
most difficult situations surrounds what to do if you suspect
a friend is suffering from an eating disorder.
Should Friends Do?
you confront them at the risk of forcing them into denial? Actively
coercing someone into accepting that they have a problem rarely
works. It can even have the effect of provoking them to stop eating,
or to start bingeing.
disorders are a predominantly secretive illness and bringing them
out into the open can be a traumatic experience.
there is no ideal way to handle this kind of situation, providing
a supportive environment in which your friend can trust you makes
it easier for them to accept your anxieties surrounding their
eating habits. If they have a reliable support network, they can
face the prospect of seeking help more easily.
Can Be Beaten
is deplorable that there remains such a negative and fatalistic
attitude towards the treatment of eating disorders. The view that
even if a sufferer seeks help, the best that they can hope for
is to keep their illness at bay is entirely defeatist.
illness does not have to dominate your life."
only aim to live with an illness then logically you will
not be able to recover from it.
recovering anorexics, I
have been asked to stress that it is vital to believe that your
illness does not have to dominate your life.
pressures of term in Cambridge, it is sometimes hard to see a
'light' and one can easily become overwhelmed.
criticisms of the welfare provision in colleges, there is a wide
variety of support available to anybody seeking help to combat
their disordered eating.
17 St. Edward's Passage
01223 367 575
University Counselling Service
14 Trumpington Street
01223 332 865
CUSU Eating Disorders Support
01223 740 555