Eating disorders affect more than one million Australians.
That’s why research into mental health is so vital.
That’s why Lauren is sharing her story.
You can make a real difference. Not only to those who are suffering today, but to the millions that will be diagnosed with a mental health issue in the future. Will you help find the breakthroughs we need? Your support will help create a life free from mental illness.
Anorexia Nervosa took hold of Lauren at the age of 12.
It takes a lot to hide things, it really does. To pretend everything is ok. That in itself is so exhausting. When you keep a secret for such a long time, that also becomes part of the problem…it traps you.
Not only do you have the weight of the eating disorder, but you also can’t be yourself around the people that love you. The most freedom came from finally deciding to share my journey.
While she admitted to restricting her food intake long before, it was at a picnic with a friend, that she realised it was overtaking her life.
“My friend and her family were making sandwiches…a perfectly normal activity for a family; and I just remember having a panic attack about having to eat the bread. That filled me with the worst dread. I was consumed by it.
It was Lauren’s Dad that sat her down following that, not only because of the weight loss but also because of the reaction to the bread. He realised something wasn’t right.
The average on-set age for an eating disorder is 12-25 years. Will you help ensure this doesn’t happen to anyone else? Will you give today? Please help make sure no one else dies from this destructive disease. Please give generously.
Lauren saw GPs and psychologists throughout her teenage years but no specialised disordered eating care.
“I saw different people throughout that time, and it was helpful to talk, but I had no tools, no resources and no answers. There was no way of moving forward.
It wasn’t until Lauren had her first son, at the age of 27, when she finally had access to specialised care at the Statewide Eating Disorder Service. A specialised mental health service that provides assessment, care and information for people living with an eating disorder, or where an eating disorder may be developing. It also helps family, carers, and professionals.
All I ever wanted was children, but I found the pregnancy experience really traumatic. I was constantly comparing myself to other pregnant woman and I felt shamed into silence. I couldn’t discuss how I was feeling with anyone.
Lauren had a difficult pregnancy as she suffered with hyperemesis gravidarum but as the scales started to go up, the eating disorder came storming back quickly and intensely.
Waiting for the arrival of my first-born child should have been one of the most exciting times of my life but instead it was filled with consuming and irrational thoughts.
I began restricting food the day after giving birth and jumped into obsessive and intense exercise five weeks post birth. I was exhausted and unhealthy.
It was Lauren’s family who once again sat her down to talk to her.
That was the first time I really felt I had to get on top of this. I wasn’t just about me anymore. I don’t want to leave my son without a mum.
Lauren was checked into the day program at SEDS for six weeks but still worried she was not sick enough to be enrolled. She was filled with guilt about ‘getting help’ because she felt she should be looking after her son.
But without the specialised care and formal evidence-based research behind the programs, Lauren says she would not be here.
It saved my life – it saved my family’s life. It’s such a complex disease with connections with anxiety and depression and until you work with someone who understands that – based on research and what works – you won’t be able to succeed in moving forward.
Did you know…
$69.7 billion is the social and economic cost of eating disorders in Australia in 2021, and it is getting worse.
The risk of premature death for women with anorexia compared to the general population is 6 to 12 times higher.
Eating disorders are the third most common chronic illness in young women, with suicide the leading cause of death.
Will you help change these alarming statistics today?
Breakthrough and the federal and state governments are funding the new SEDS centre which will provide clinical and residential services based on lived-experience design and integrate a world-leading research team to provide evidence-based treatment and therapies.
Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor and world-renowned disordered eating expert Tracey Wade said waitlists for those seeking help for eating disorders was increasing at a rapid rate; particularly following the pandemic.
Prof Wade’s comments back study findings by Flinders University PhD student Joanne Zhou (pictured above with Prof Wade) who compared survey results from women who were considered at risk of developing an eating disorder before and after the pandemic. Significant differences in symptoms included:
- 17 per cent of the participants reported vomiting in the 28 days before taking the survey, compared to 7 per cent of participants before lockdown.
- 78 per cent of participants fasted for more than eight waking hours during COVID-19, compared to 61 per cent before the pandemic.
- 75 per cent of participants were driven to exercise during COVID-19, compared to 66 per cent before the pandemic.
Ms Zhou said the unpublished findings showed young women at risk of developing an eating disorder were more likely to engage in disordered eating as a coping mechanism, so being able to access mental health services or tools is extremely crucial over these times.