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Let's Stop The Stigma!

16th May 2019

Let's Stop The Stigma!

Helen Lacey has recently been made an Ambassador for local charity Somerset and Wessex Eating Disorder Association (SWEDA). This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, with a focus on body image. Here, Helen discusses her battles with her body.

I recently attended a 1920’s themed murder mystery event in aid of SWEDA, at The Swan Inn in Wells. Afterwards, I decided to learn more about the fantastic – but relatively unheard – of charity.

A few months later I met with Laura Miller, Sam Best and Paul Blight, the CEO, to chat about how I could help the charity. In the meeting they presented lots of ideas and suggestions about how I could help – from Red Berry’s involvement with the charity to me speaking at events.

My story…

What they didn’t know was that between the ages of 17 to 19 I struggled with Bulimia.

I say Bulimia, though I never went to the doctors to be formally diagnosed. I found myself consumed in a state of wanting to be skinny. I felt that everything was out of control. My Nan, who I was very close with, died. I failed an A level – I was always academically bright so this upset me. And I was in an unhealthy relationship with my (then) boyfriend, who was very controlling.

Looking back it was just the sense of control I needed, but then I felt I was fat, not worthy and not good enough.

I would drink black coffee, smoke cigarettes, exercising for hours and take laxatives to make sure I didn’t put the weight on. I counted every calorie and weighed twice a day. I even bought size 14 clothes, when in fact then I was probably a size 6!

What changed for me…

I thought I looked great but when my brother commented to mum that he could see my ribs and she found the laxatives in my bed side cabinet, she knew she had to do something.

I guess I was lucky. I knew deep down what I was doing was wrong and I knew it wasn’t good for my body (my periods had virtually stopped and my hair looked awful). But thank goodness I have a strong mum, who could support me and give me the strength, and a new boyfriend who was supportive of me and my insecurities.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have issues occasionally, even though people look at me and say I look great. I don’t feel it as I don’t feel perfect, but I don’t have time to focus on perfection, even though I know there is no such thing. I still have the odd hang up which I deal with.

I have a business to run, I don’t have time to worry like I do, and my focus is elsewhere. It consumed me for a couple of years and though weight/food will play a part in my life it won’t be the all-consuming element that I focus on.

I am proud that I was strong enough to deal with, that I had and still have great family and friends around me.

So if anyone is reading this doesn’t believe they can stop and help yourself, you can! If you are reading this and think it’s too late, as it’s been too many years, it’s not – there is support there and you can do it. If you’ve just started thinking about the control element, as to what you would feel like doing this and how this would change your life, I can assure you it won’t change anything for the good. So don’t start, please!

How society can help…

There is nothing wrong with needing help.

There is nothing wrong with admitting you have mixed feelings when it comes to food.

There is nothing wrong with admitting you have suffered or are suffering.

People see me as such a strong person, and I am, but we all need help, support and love. Most of all, it starts with you believing you can change.

Check out SWEDA’s website to see how they could help you. One of their trustees will be driving his 1937 Austin Ten from Land’s End to John O’Groats in August, accompanied by our very own Mary Berry. See how you can support that.





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