Oxford psychology student and ambassador for eating disorder recovery
Esther is a 20 year old, 3rd year, Experimental Psychology student at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. She volunteers as a Young Ambassador for the UK’s leading eating disorder charity, ‘beat’, after suffering from anorexia during her teens. She is now fully recovered and enjoys rowing, running and all things sports related. She has contributed to BPS student magazine ‘Psychtalk’ and is an aspiring Clinical Psychologist.
In order to truly understand the magnitude of what we are considering, we must return to the child at the centre of it all. A child who did not ask to be conceived in such a way, nor ask to be unwanted in any way, but could have grown up to be a child with a voice asking for love, respect and dignity. For now, we must be their voice.
All publicity is good publicity. Well, in the case of the recent controversy surrounding the 'mental patient' costumes on sale at various supermarket chains in the UK, that may well be the case. It is rare that an organic, natural opportunity for fighting stigma arises - most of the time we see well planned-out print campaigns or dedicated charity efforts. But today something incredible happened.
Someone living with cancer is not defined by their tumour. Someone living with diabetes is not defined by their sugar levels. So why should someone living with a mental health problem be defined by how they are feeling?
Unlike a lot of people in today's society, I will happily admit to taking anti-depressants. A mental illness is just that - an illness, which needs treating. If I had a physical ailment I wouldn't think twice about taking the medication, so I don't understand why there is such a taboo on medication for mental illnesses.
Aptly, the theme of this year's Mental Health Awareness Week is physical activity and exercise. As I've repeatedly stressed, exercise has been crucial in restoring my own mental health. The release of endorphins is undeniably beneficial for those suffering from depression and other disorders.
No matter how old you are, if you have or have had an eating disorder and are at or have been to university, please do take just five minutes of your time to fill it out. Your contribution to this vital research could play an integral part in improving the lives of hundreds of students with all types of eating disorders and the services on offer to them!
I thought to myself that that is precisely the problem with the current state of the media: too many people assume they understand eating disorders by sight alone, rather than stepping outside of their comfort zone to consider the reality that they run much deeper than skin level.
Only two people have ever told me it is possible to recover completely from an eating disorder: the psychotherapist who I did an internship with last year (who had, herself, 'recovered') and my boyfriend. Before I met these two people, I was firmly of the view that 'recovery' meant learning to cope with the illness in everyday life.
We are preparing to become the first all-female crew to row the 180 kilometres from Oxford to London for charity. This will take place over three full days between 23 and 26 June and will result in catastrophic muscle ache, innumerable hand blisters and, to put it bluntly, numb bums!
17/03/2013 22:40 GMT
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