When sufferers are trying to fight but are struggling, it isn't simply a case of being "scared of food" or "scared of gaining weight", often it is also a fear of what they will lose, of throwing away everything that they think they are, the removal of their core identity, leaving a hole they have no idea how else to fill.
Worldwide, one in four of us may be diagnosed with mental health conditions but that doesn't account for how many people are undiagnosed. It doesn't account for how many people feel alone and isolated because of difficulties they're grappling with and they feel like they are the only ones. They're not. None of us need be alone if we are honest and comedy is the most honest art form we have - comedy is the truth wrapped in a lie.
A lot of people tell me that I am "brave" for being so open about my mental health problems. But one of the reasons why I am open is because I don't want "brave" to be a connotation for opening up mental illness anymore. I want people to talk about their issues without being scared of people's reaction.
The potential for psychological fall-out after experiencing sudden alterations in physical appearance are well documented in the cases of burns victims, amputees, and even people undergoing drastic weight loss surgery. The reactions of people with eating disorders are rarely legitimised in the same way because their self-image was apparently already broken prior to this new alteration.
In an ideal world obviously I would love for everyone to be vegan, so I don't want this post to be seen as telling people with eating disorders to run off and bite the nearest sheep immediately. What I am saying is that if you are vegan or have a friend who has recently turned vegan, be sure to question it (especially if they have a history of eating disorders), and be fully aware of why that choice has been made.
This is the first ever global day dedicated to eating disorders, and professionals from 40 different countries and activists from all over the world are taking part. It could not have come soon enough for us here in the UK where the number of young people hospitalised for an eating disorder has doubled in the past three years.
There have always been misconceptions of mental health sufferers as being scary, violent and "crazy". Of course, that is what the stereotype of mental illness is. No wonder why people are so afraid to get help. If you have met the people I have met in psychiatric hospitals, you'd see that they are not even near that. They are often gentle, friendly and amazingly intelligent people.