The more we talk about eating disorders, the less ‘taboo’ they become

Posted 30/05/2018

Being diagnosed with anorexia when I was 17 was, I thought at the time, one of the worst things in the world. Over the past four years I have been pushing my way through recovery (and a degree) with the many ups and downs that come alongside. But one thing that has kept me going through all the difficult times has been Beat.

Becoming a Beat Young Ambassador in my first year of university was a landmark point in my life. I started being proactive about my mental health, and not only did I want to change my life, but I wanted to help other people change their lives too.

Fundraising for Beat comes second nature to me now. At any opportunity I have, I want to give back to the amazing charity that supported me through everything, I feel like I’m part of an incredible, loving community who just get it (and believe me that is invaluable!!).

Now that university life is coming to an end for me, I wanted to do a big fundraising event to celebrate how far I’ve come throughout my time here. So I rallied up my friends for one last big fundraiser: the British 10K race.

When I first signed up for this race I was very nervous because I’d never really been a runner. In fact, I was quite intimidated by the prospect of running outside, visible for everyone to laugh at how bad a runner I am/how hot and sweaty I looked/how my body looked in running clothes. However, this was a goal I was setting for myself and I was not going to let my anxiety and my eating disorder thoughts defeat me. I was determined to get out and prove to myself that I can run in public and not be embarrassed by what I look like.

In the past, my anorexic voice would have taken this challenge as an opportunity to pull me back into a negative place, telling me I’m not good enough, that there is no chance I could do this and would just use it as an exercise excuse. But not this time… Instead, I flipped the scenario around! I’m using this as an opportunity to learn how to fuel my body properly in order to be able to do the run in a healthy way that will not damage my physical or mental health. Not only is this run a physical challenge for me, it is a mental one, and one I know I will rise to with my incredible family and friends behind me.

The support we have received for the British 10K has been amazing. We have already raised over £600 as a group, so we have increased our target to £800, and we still have over a month to go. The generosity from everyone has been overwhelming. Also, doing a big fundraising event like this, and being very public about it, opens doors to discuss mental health and eating disorders with people who normally wouldn’t have given it much thought. The more publicly we can talk about eating disorders, the less ‘taboo’ they become. I have already seen a change in the people around me – we can openly talk about eating disorders as an illness just like a physical illness would be spoken about. It’s so refreshing.

The closer we get to the race day, the more excited I become. I can’t wait for the moment where I cross the finish line on the 15th of July with some of the strongest and most amazing people in my life. Each one of us has been on such a journey at university, and it hasn’t always been easy! We have been on this rollercoaster ride together and we will finish together, showing our strength, determination and passion for beating eating disorders.

Contributed by Jenn 

You can donate to Jenn's JustGiving page here.

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