What if we told you that the suicide rate is 31 times higher among people with eating disorders than the general population?
Unfortunately, eating disorders are more common than you might think.
In fact, they affect millions of people across the world, including 1 million people in Australia.
So, whether you know someone with eating disorder issues or are struggling with it yourself, know that you’re not alone.
Some of the most common eating disorders include binge eating, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa.
In this blog post, we shed some light on how the pandemic is fuelling eating disorders and the key steps you can take to recover.
How the Pandemic Affects Eating Disorders
Recent data shows that the number of Australians with eating disorders has increased by up to 50% during the pandemic. And many studies have revealed a link between COVID-19-related stress and the exacerbation of eating disorders.
Indeed, eating disorders tend to thrive during anxious times and are often linked to past trauma. Now, the pandemic constitutes a collective trauma and, as such, has fuelled collective stress causing a spike in eating disorders. Besides, the sight of people stockpiling leaving empty supermarket shelves behind can cause food insecurities and trigger anxiety, leading to overeating or food restriction.
Another key factor contributing to the rise in eating disorders during the pandemic is the disruption of routines. People suffering from eating disorders often follow strict routines. That’s because it makes them feel more in control and helps them cope with the illness. Unfortunately, strict stay-at-home orders and social distancing rules have disrupted routines for many, acting as a trigger.
Tips To Keep You On the Road To Recovery During The Pandemic
The pandemic might have slowed down your recovery. You might even feel like you’re not progressing anymore.
So, here are some tips to help you navigate these challenging times and get you back on the path to recovery:
Remember That It's Okay To Struggle
Do you have mixed feelings when thinking about your recovery? Are you experiencing strong emotions such as anger, shame, or grief?
If that’s the case, know that it’s totally normal. This phenomenon is called ambivalence in recovery. It occurs because your eating disorder is, in fact, a way for you to cope with challenges. And even though you want to get rid of your illness, you might also be clinging to it to help you deal with your emotions. Hence the ambivalence.
But guess what?
Ambivalence is a normal part of the recovery process. So, don’t be too hard on yourself and try to accept these emotions.
Stay in Touch With Your Support Team
The pandemic might have disrupted your routine, including regularly touching base with your support team. You might even feel like you’ve undone all of the progress and just want to give up.
Now, it can be challenging to navigate your eating disorder alone. Even if opening up and reaching out for help can seem difficult right now, it is one of the best ways to stay on track. A professional will be able to support you mentally and motivate you. They’ll help you reconnect with yourself, accept your emotions and find hope again.
Recovery Still Matters
Recovering from an eating disorder is a journey. And like with any journey, there will be highs and lows. But lows and relapses can be a way for you to learn about your triggers and how to overcome them. Remember, no matter where you are in your journey, every day is a step toward healing. And knowing that you overcame adversity during the pandemic can help you emerge stronger.
Where To Find Help?
If you’re not sure where to find help, here’s a list of Australian eating disorder helplines:
- Eating Disorders Victoria
- National Eating Disorders Collaboration
- Head to Health
- Eating Disorders Queensland
- Eating Disorders Association South Australia
- Women’s Health Works
Whether you have an eating disorder or know someone who does, our Eating Disorder Recovery tees will help brighten things up and provide well-needed encouraging words. Plus, by wearing our tees, you’ll be helping more than yourself or a friend. For every shirt purchased, we donate $2 to the Butterfly Foundation to help people with eating disorders and body image issues.