‘I never wanted to be thin…I just wanted to regain control of my life’
Michelle Heffernan Reports
In 2007 it looked like I had it all; 600 points in my Leaving Cert, college place in Trinity, modelling contract, family, friends. In reality, I was in the darkest place I’ve ever been in my life. At 17 I had developed an eating disorder, and it was slowly killing me.
This week I released my documentary “The Truth About Eating Disorders” on Beat 102 103, so people know the reality of an eating disorder, and know how to access help.
According to the Department of Health, approximately 200,000 people in Ireland are affected by eating disorders, with an estimated 400 cases emerging each year. Contrary to stereotypes and myths, eating disorders are not akin to dieting or weight loss programmes. “It affects much more than their time in the kitchen,” Barry Murphy of Bodywhys, explains in this documentary. “Eating disorders are internationally recognised as serious and complex mental health disorders and they have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness out there.”
I know, from my own experience, that many misconceptions exist about Eating Disorders, and these can delay a person from seeking help. In “The Truth About Eating Disorders”, I debunk these mistruths, speaking to people of different ages, sexes, with different diagnoses, showing that anywhere, at any time, a person can develop disordered eating.
A very difficult and important part of this documentary includes an interview with my own mother. For the first time in my life, I spoke to her about her experience of helping a daughter through a dangerous mental illness and the long road to recovery. It was a tremendously emotional conversation, but important for me to offer to listeners, so all those affected by an eating disorder understand that help is out there.
Recovering from anorexia nervosa was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life, and I want anyone with any kind of eating disorder to know that recovery is possible. You can find support and you can regain your life again. Please listen, learn and know that disordered eating is not something you have to continue to suffer with. You can and will find yourself again.
The Truth About Eating Disorders is available to listen to on soundcloud.com/beat102103/sets/documentaries. For support for an Eating Disorder you can visit bodywhys.ie or call their free helpline on 01 2107906