Community Magazine

Any Publicity is Good Publicity

By Survivingana @survivingana

Bad publicity is not good publicityThat’s the old adage isn’t it? ‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity’. Any bad or negative news till helps your cause. Even news guidelines clearly state they prefer bad new, conflicts, blaming etc because that’s what gets the public in. And the public will always repeat the same false beliefs about someone or something. It only takes one bad review to ruin a reputation or muddy the true information about something.

WRONG when it comes to eating disorders. There is so much negative, wrong, mis-informed information out there that keeps getting reported. Reporters don’t even bother to get the real facts or qualify the integrity of the person they are interviewing. If they have doctor in their name or some degree (of any description) then they can’t possibly be wrong. If they work in the field of eating disorder awareness and treatment then they should have it right, right?

Wrong again. Not all doctors, clinics, sufferers, carers have the clear facts of eating disorders. So you get stories that blame men, blame your childhood experiences, blame parents, blame body image, lame bullying, blame trauma, blame anything but the genes + biology (up to 80%) and complexities that go into an eating disorder developing. You get other stories that blame media, models, celebrities, social media groups. What about stories that say you can’t recover in ‘their’ opinion, that there is no real hope. Or stories that are so blanket coverage they lump every eating disorder, gender, age group, years of suffering all into a ‘one-size fits all’ statement.

No wonder the public are confused. No wonder they don’t understand the complexity of an eating disorder and decide in favour of the myths, stigmas and wrong information. There is just too much of it out there and it takes a lot of time and effort to try and counter balance this information with the true stuff.

If medical practitioners and treatment centres cannot keep up to date with evidence-based, quality and reliable research, information and statistics then what hope does the rest of the world have. Didn’t they get the memo to keep their skills up to date? And they pontificate their false beliefs and ideas across the internet. Remember gutter trash newspapers, the internet is full of them.

Sufferers also tend to talk only of their own experience, disregarding research of genetics and applying old methods of recovery and treatment to their story. It can have quite a negative impact to say that recovery isn’t possible just because it didn’t happen to you. There is no single blame point for the ED developing. Treatment, length of illness, age, medical diagnosis all feed into this and often are disregarded in the story telling. No one is saying their story isn’t worth telling or to de-validate it, but in telling your story please at least say how things have changed for diagnosis/treatment and there is hope and research has offered so much more knowledge on how your ED developed.  It would be like me blaming domestic violence, dysfunctional family for my daughter’s anorexia development. It’s not. It’s genes, biology, personality first. Then ALL of life – family, school, culture, environment, friends etc and how you personally cope with it all. A very complex mix, creating a perfect storm.

The worst offenders are those within the eating disorder treatment industries themselves. That they cannot be bothered to properly research their media statements and get the right information across. Blanket statements like several recently give the wrong impression totally. Take these two for examples:

Blanket statement 1: ‘You can choose to recover’. Well yes you can BUT there is only a certain time and stage you can do this. It’s not a blanket statement and must have clarification when you say this. Those is the thick of an eating disorder or into early recovery cannot choose. The ED voice is too strong and will negate any effort to recover. Intervention, treatment, teams and therapy are the go here, and critically, full weight restoration and stabilisation. In age groups under 18 its a must – you don’t EVER wait for them to say they ‘choose’ to recover. You get them straight into treatment. Over 18 is more negotiating but the bottom line is go as hard as you can to get them into treatment. Waiting for ‘choosing’ means the eating disorders gets further entrenched, chronic and harder to fight. At any age the ED stops you from being able to choose to recover. Choosing only becomes a reality in later recovery. You are your correct weight, your brain is nourished and you have had a fair amount of therapy. Choosing is deciding each day, every meal, every thought to fight back at the ED. To choose that everything you do for yourself aids recovery and makes recovery stronger. By this stage you have learnt to separate yourself from the ED, you can hear your own voice and are learning to make it stronger and louder. You are choosing to not engage in ED behavior that can lead to a relapse. Those in mid to late recovery will tell you they KNOW they couldn’t choose to recover when the ED voice was in control.

Blanket statement 2: ‘The majority of people in eating disorder closed internet groups don’t want to recover and they have been in these groups for a long time’. Did they even go into the sites and actually engage?? Yes there are those in these groups who have had an ED for a very long time, it’s become a way of life/compromise and many are happy to admit a miserable life. But they are unable for many reasons to recover. Bad treatment, disbelieving doctors, old out-dated therapies, perceived fears etc all add to their inability to move forward.  Here’s where the statement is wrong – there are thousands of new eating disorder sufferers in these sites. They are either undiagnosed or in early stages of treatment. They don’t know if they can recover because the ED voice is very loud saying they shouldn’t. So people take this as a statement that they don’t want to recover at all. They take it at face value INSTEAD of realising the ED voice is the one doing ALL the talking. These young kids are at the mercy of these sites and the tricks they learn which only deepens the ED and helps them side step treatment. Given the opportunity to get treatment and to be able to reach a stage of at least mid recovery, these young kids will tell you they WANT to recover that they don’t want to stay with the ED.

Groups such as International Eating Disorder Action take on as many of these social media reporting and groups from governments to treatment centres to get the message across. I am proud to below but find I cannot keep up with the constant need to engage at all levels of society to fix the erroneous ideas of eating disorders. It will take every person we can get to help fix this so finally we can get the true message across about eating disorders.

PS. I finally updated Sophie’s story page. How slack is that. I haven’t actually updated it for about 3 years and much has changed since I wrote the last paragraphs. Like ‘she has fully recovered’ for one!!!!


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