Fifty-three-year-old Sarah James from Bangor in north Wales has been struggling with anorexia nervosa for more than 40 years. She has welcomed news that money from the National Lottery Community Fund will help people with eating disorders living in rural areas. Since 2014, Sarah has been supported by a befriending services run by Anorexia and Bulimia Care (ABC).
For the last couple of years I’ve been working on my recovery journey. It’s very difficult when you first start out and it’s an on-going battle. I think generally there’s a lot of misunderstanding and many people, including professionals, don’t have the time or patience to want to understand or specialise in this area of mental health. I’ve certainly encountered this through the services I’ve accessed, which are currently over-stretched.
One psychiatric nurse told me that I didn’t suffer with Anorexia because I wanted to eat. I went to a support group, but was the oldest person there and I felt uncomfortable as the other people were more in the grips of it, rather than wanting help with recovery. Living in a rural location makes this journey to recovery even more difficult as there’s a lack of support in the community and you’re very much isolated geographically with difficulties accessing transport as well as emotionally due to the illness.
I think this is why I find ABC such a supportive organisation – receiving weekly support from people who have personal and professional experience of eating disorders and a depth of understanding is so hard to find. This illness is not a surface problem – suicidal thoughts, self-harm, psychosis are all part of the awful struggle.
ABC’s work in Wales will give more people access to support and I’m personally looking forward to meeting the people at ABC who’ve supported me for the last year and a half. I hope to be able to work with them in the future to use my personal experience and give back.
Anorexia and Bulimia Care (ABC) is will use £4,930 to deliver talks to raise awareness of eating disorders in Powys, run workshops with health care professionals and set up three support groups.