Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2019 - Supporting A Friend In Need

[Disclaimer: this post contains an item that was gifted]

I haven't spoken much about my PhD research on my blog, but it's such a big part of my life it seems wrong to leave it out. A lot of my blog is about things I love, things I'm passionate about, and I guess in a way this falls into one of my passions, or interests at least, as well.

My PhD research topic is very specific and often when I tell people about it, they look at me blankly. The research focus is on restrictive eating disorders in autistic women. We're looking at why the rates of anorexia and other restrictive eating disorders seem to be so high in autism (see Huke et al., 2013 for a review) and whether the causing and maintaining factors behind the eating disorder are different to that of a "neurotypical" (essentially, someone who is not on the autism spectrum) person with an eating disorder. 

Hopefully, this research will have practical implications in helping autistic women to access appropriate services and receive better treatment and care. It's something I've been interested in for a while now (I became aware of it about 6 years ago), and so to be doing a PhD on the topic is pretty cool (yeah, PhD's are cool okay). 

But for this blog post, I want to focus more on eating disorders in general. Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW) falls in February each year, with the aim to raise awareness and encourage support for eating disorders. Most people know what an eating disorder is on a superficial level, but there are a lot of myths and stereotypes around them, which organisations like Beat (the country's leading eating disorder charity) help to debunk. They have some great online resources if you want to know more:

Recently, I was sent another great resource for those who want to support someone close to them with an eating disorder. 'Hope with Eating Disorders' is a book by counsellor and author Lynn Crilly - it's a practical resource with an optimistic, non-judgmental approach to tackling an eating disorder and believing that recovery is possible. I was lucky enough to ask Lynn some questions about the new book:

Charli: What inspired you to write 'Hope with Eating Disorders'?

Lynn: One of my young clients' mum, (They had been in the 'system' unsuccessfully and I was able to really help her daughter through to recovery) suggested I write a book about my thoughts, journey and experience, as she described me as the female version of the therapist in the King's Speech! And my approach was refreshing and real! At the time I thought it would be a really easy thing to do, so always one for a challenge I started... little did I know it would be one of the biggest challenges, but definitely a worth while one.

Charli: What do you hope readers will gain from the book?

Lynn: I hope that it will help the reader not to buy into the common myth that eating disorders are a life sentence, that recovery is possible and that, as no two people are the same, everyone's journey is unique to them. I hope that the reader feels they are not alone, and by reading the book it will give them a better understanding of the illness and how best to help their loved one.

Charli: What's the best piece of advice you could give to a parent/carer/friend of someone suffering with an eating disorder?

Lynn: I would always advise a parent or carer to follow their instinct - if one treatment is not working, don’t be afraid to try another. Don’t be afraid of what you cannot see, never settle for "this is as good as it gets" and never give up.

The second edition is out on 28th February 2019 and is available via Lynn's website or on Amazon.

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