Beat is the UK's leading charity supporting those affected by eating disorders by encouraging and empowering them to seek help via their online and 365-day phone services, as well as listing other ways to seek more long-term assistance for both sufferers and their friends and families. In addition to this, Beat also campaign to increase knowledge among healthcare and other relevant professionals, and for better funding for high-quality treatment, so that when people are brave enough to take vital steps towards recovery, the right help is available to them.
It is often difficult for people to come forward with Eating Disorders due to the cognitive factors – something that many sufferers deal with is feelings of not being valid, “ill enough” or even accepting that they have a problem in the first place. This is something that Beat acknowledges well and fights to change by educating healthcare professionals to help them know that their difficulties are valid and worthy of treatment, as well as working to reduce the stigma associated with Eating Disorders.
This charity is particularly important to me because of the amount of help they were able to give me when I was suffering from the Eating Disorder called Atypical Anorexia – an ED (eating disorder) in which the behavioural and cognitive symptoms are the same, but the BMI isn’t considered low enough for a diagnosis of Anorexia Nervosa – from 2015/6 to 2018. During this difficult time, I was a regular user of these support services, particularly the group sessions and one-to-one online chats. Following a few of these conversations with trained professionals, I felt that I had the support and confidence to seek help for my problem and made an appointment with my GP, which was ultimately a life-changing (and in some cases saving) decision.
Beat was able to provide me with the information and advice I needed to feel as comfortable as possible in that appointment as well as what to expect and where else to find help. From there, I was referred to Eating Matters, a Norwich-based counselling service which is partly funded by Beat and, although I was very much in the mindset of my illness when I started and reluctant to actively engage in the therapy due to those feelings mentioned above, their staff were patient and kind and helped me through all the ups and downs that come with recovery.
Whenever I was in a crisis with my Eating Disorder and severely struggling, Beat was always there to support me as well as the thousands of people they help each year. None of my recovery would have been possible without Beat, their amazing staff and volunteers, and all their wonderful donors. To anybody who is struggling (or knows somebody who is), please come forward and seek support, whether that is via Beat’s website, your GP, school pastoral support team (me as a Peer Supporter or Georgie Valpied and the counsellors) as you are valid and very much worthy of whatever support you require. Recovery is a long and difficult process with many highs and lows, but I promise that it is the best decision you could ever make, as well as a very necessary one.