Fight For Freedom: A young woman's quest to raise awareness about Anorexia Nervosa

Author: Rose Anne Evans

Date Of Publication: 31/05/2018

Fight for Freedom aims to provide a better understanding of Anorexia Nervosa – how it feels to have the illness, advice for sufferers, carers and professionals, and provides a safe space for those who have the illness. It’s written by Rose Anne Evans, and is her personal story of her journey to recovery. It’s split into several sections, including diary entries Rose Anne penned whilst recovering, wisdom for those fighting the illness, and ends on a truly informative and helpful advice section for parents , friends, and healthcare professionals, so it’s not just aimed at those who have anorexia, but also for those around them. It’s a useful guide to finding a way into your journey to recovery; from opening up to your loved ones if you’re worried you have anorexia, through to different types of care you can receive, and also after you have received care. The book does not contain any triggering messages, and also contains a brief chapter at the beginning featuring myths and facts about anorexia, a list of behavioural/physical signs of the illness, and a summary of how it feels to have the illness – something people rarely realise and struggle to understand. It is a brave and personal experience of recovery from anorexia, which doesn’t shy away from the facts, is realistic, and contains a prominent message of hope. Rose Anne drills home the fact that it is so much better to be recovered, and that life after recovery is so much better than when you’re in the grips of such a terrible illness.

The book is separated into clear chapters and covers a wide range of topics. Her diary entries allow the reader to understand how it feels to have anorexia, and also reveals that recovery is not always straightforward – it is and will be a battle. But the overarching message of these entries is that even though recovery is up and down, life is so much better when you have recovered. You get an overwhelming sense of hope when reading, and this might help those who have anorexia realise that there will be things in life that make recovery worth it. Her personal accounts of being able to pursue her hobbies again, enjoy Christmas Day again, being able to finally listen to her body and understand its needs rather than rely on the illness, all drive home this message of hope. It is rare to find such an honest and objective account of recovery.

It is written in a very clear way, and is easy to navigate from chapter to chapter. I’d recommend reading the whole book, but if you are a healthcare professional and just wanted to read her advice, it is easy to find the section dedicated to carers and doctors. It also has a logical structure, beginning with facts about the illness, moving to her personal experience in the grips of it, following on to the recovery process, then ending with advice for friends, family and carers. It contains no triggering language and equally does not contain too specific details about when she was in the depths of anorexia, which could be harmful to someone reading it who has the illness. There are no triggering images either – rather some useful diagrams that one could try to take a step back and evaluate how you feel, list your reasons to recover, and another to help see your body as a friend. The ‘Wisdom for Warriors’ sections takes the reader through different types of therapy you could try, using ‘distress tolerance’  (methods to distract yourself/help make decisions when you’re not in the right mind set), mindfulness methods, realising and living for your values, and learning to love your body again. She lists a variety of things you could try as what works for one person, might not help another. The final section that follows is advice for parents, including what not to say, and drills home that when your child has anorexia, they are not them anymore – the illness has taken over, which is useful for a parent in understanding what is happening There’s also advice for friends who think their friend might have the illness, and useful advice for GP’s, professionals (like at school – it’s very important these illnesses are recognised within schools), and tips for clinicians and dieticians. Rose Anne ends the book with some of the poetry she has written, which is moving and powerful.

To summarise, this book is not just for those going through anorexia, but for their carers, friends, and professionals. It is an honest, brave and highly informative account of her journey to recovery, and contains a vast amount of information on different things you can try during your recovery, in such a short amount of time. It provides a clear understanding of what it’s like to have this mental illness, and tries to give an overview and further details for those who don’t know anything about the illness. It’s an important read, and I think will help a lot of people who are suffering with the illness, as well as those around them who are not familiar with the symptoms and effect of anorexia.

Suki Bergg