The cut throat business of raising awareness

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Followers of my blog will have seen me pour my heart out as I battle with my recovery from Binge Eating Disorder.  They will also have seen me grow very quiet over the last few months.

Part of this may be me reaching a plateau in my recovery.  Part of it maybe me running out of things to say.  I have still be working away, doing little bits here and there to raise the awareness of the disorder, of Eating Disorders in general and also wider mental health.  And I still enjoy it, but I feel when I come down to write that it’s the same old story.  I have countless drafts that have just not been posted!

And now I shuffle about in my seat as I’m about to post something controversial.

A few months ago I saw a video about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  Many of you will have seen this as it hit the world news with many celebrities taking part.  The original video was inspiring.  I’d never heard about ALS before and I felt this was a fantastic way of increasing awareness of the illness, especially since it went virul.  I got all excited about the thought of being nominated.

But the person who nominated me did it in the name of Cancer Awareness.  Now, don’t get me wrong, cancer is horrible and it needs more funding to help find a cure, I get that.  But awareness?  If people are not aware of cancer by now I very much doubt throwing a bucket of icy water over your head is going to get the message across.  I felt angry.  A little known but devastating illness was having it’s limelight ripped away from it.

This January I also took part in ‘Dry January’ and I gave up alcohol for a month.  It was in aid of Alcohol Concern, an organisation close to my heart since I lost a friend to alcoholism.  They have run this event every year for many years.  And yet this year, a cancer charity was running the same event at the same time.  Most people I knew had not even heard of Alcohol Concern.  And let’s face it – since Alcoholism is considered a self-inflicted illness, it’s not going to get the same sympathy vote as a cancer charity.  And who was going to have the guts to say to a cancer charity “hey, that’s not fair”.

So when I knew Eating Disorder Awareness Week was coming up, I felt I didn’t want the same thing to happen.  Eating Disorders and Mental Health NEED awareness.  Even if they don’t get much money, the awareness and discussion about them is SO important.

So I made a Facebook page called Awareness Days UK.  And then I made a blog to back it up.  This has been the focus of my attention in the last month.   They say a change is as good as a rest and maybe in time I’ll come back and give you more updates.  In the meantime, maybe some of my regular followers would like to see my new page?

Peace and love to you all x

3 thoughts on “The cut throat business of raising awareness

  1. Thanks very much for sharing. You are delivering a very important message here. As well, I do not want to diminish the importance of cancer research. I had come across some infographic I cannot find now that contains data where the diseases impacting the fewest raise the most – with breast cancer leading the pack. So often it does not really come down to the severity of the health issue, but who has the best PR campaign.

    So I just did some googling, and yes you can find lots of websites that argue the economics, ethics, and sustainability of such campaigns.

    But I think where you really hit the nail on the head is the pervasiveness of addiction in our culture and the general response. I have been a recovering alcoholic for a bunch of years and teach at a University. When counseling students who are doing poorly, I always note that I had a 0.7 GPA and that redemption is possible as I went on to get a PhD – but I also casually note that my recovery in school work was also directly linked to my recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. I am always impressed with the number of students when given the option to talk about their own substance abuse issues – that they can have it legitimated that this is not a moral disorder but that addiction is real and treatable. I can’t tell you of the relief when I realized that me trying to walk into a bar, have three beers and go home, was just not going to work – ever. But at the same time, I have been sober now for some 30 years, and my mother will still ask me if I am just able to have one drink. Talk about the need for an education campaign!

    • Robert that was a very honest and heartwarming account. I was half expecting “pitch forks at dawn” for implying Cancer campaigns are immorally driven. Well done for staying sober for so long, you’re doing amazingly well. I’ve spoken to so many people in states of despair from alcoholism and every time they feel the need to justify themselves and validate their suffering; their self esteem crushed by years of stigma. The people who want to hear the message are the ones who already know the answer. Keep talking to your students, you’re saving lives.

      • Thank you for your kind words – by the way, I came across your blog initially because I too have a binge eating disorder that I continue to do battle with.

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