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  • Deborah Ellis

I’m hooked on the Netflix series, The Crown, now showing on Netflix.

Being more specific, I’m hooked on the way Dianna, Princess of Wales is being explained to us. This series, (it’s fiction based on fact, apparently), doesn’t hold back, graphically showing how she managed her justifiable hurt at rejection and trying to make herself understood then finding that the type or quality of listening she had from those around her just didn’t cut it. We see an image of someone with considerable frailties and strengths using food as a way to both self soothe and punish herself. So even though we're told this is a work of fiction, the realism in this production about struggling to manage an eating disorder, her eating disorder bulimia , is painfully hard to watch. It's strange to think that someone who seemed to have the world at her feet was in the grip of this illness.

And so too is Freddie Flintoff, the ex England cricketer and now TV presenter who struggled secretly for the last twenty years and now very bravely opens up to make a documentary that focuses on male eating disorders to talk about his own experience. ( BBCiplayer, available for another six months). This is certainly not a work of fiction, its’ real life for him and many other men who struggle with the stigma where worryingly 60% of men with eating disorders don’t seek professional help, Freddie Flintoff admitting he was one of them. Its' worth knowing that a recent study showed that those who do seek help for bulimia are nine times more likely to recover and claim their life back.

I’m not a therapist that works with eating disorders, this is a specialised field and I would always refer a client on to a therapist or agency with training and experience in eating disorders to provide help. But this documentary has given me a real understanding of how an eating disorder is experienced not only by the sufferer, but the family and friends who desperately need support too. So for those who haven’t seen the documentary, it included the following really useful bits of information.

An eating disorder is a way of describing a relationship with food, which can include using pills, over exercising, binging, purging

At the time the filming was done it was estimated that 1.5 million people in the U.K have an eating disorder.

I in 4 suffering from eating disorders are male.

Male athletes are 16 times more likely to suffer from eating disorders. Yes, 16 times.

Eating disorders cause more deaths than any other mental illness.

As the documentary focused on male eating disorders it didn’t cover the eating problems that are worryingly emerging among children. The NHS website provides lots of resources for help; they are currently claiming to be seeing 4/5ths of children who are urgent cases within a week and four weeks for non urgent cases.

Mind and Young Mind provide a low cost alternative form of support if the local NHS clinic is not able to provide immediate support. There is also Beat, an eating disorder charity for adults and young people that is also offering low cost support.

For those seeking a private route, The Priory group is a well known private eating disorder clinic with outposts in the South East of the UK.

The Recover Clinic is a private London based clinic.

I am currently putting together a resource list for eating disorders and would welcome robust referrals from well qualified specialists in this field.

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