Sunday, 19 April 2020

Recovering From Anorexia During a Worldwide Pandemic

Laura writes about the impact of COVID-19 on her recovery and shares tips on how to stay well.
- Laura Hanton


One of the first signs that a pandemic was upon us could be seen in the supermarkets: people began stockpiling. Pasta, tinned tomatoes, rice, bread, milk, flour; everybody decided they needed food, and they needed a lot of it. Whilst this is, of course, an entirely understandable reaction to the prospect of scarcity, for people with eating disorders, it added another challenge in already uncertain times.

An extreme, obsessive focus on food is exactly what we with eating difficulties are attempting to overcome. Yet suddenly, fights are breaking out over the last box of eggs; questions and concerns about the supply chain proliferate the news; trips to the shops are limited and wrought with anxiety. There are fears that supplies of our safe foods may be short, or worry that an excess of food in the cupboards could trigger a binge. Our eating disorder voices tell us that we don’t deserve food in times like these, and that by eating it we are taking it away from those who need it more. For others, suddenly being plunged into a world of enforced rest is the stuff of nightmares. We often keep busy to try and silence the thoughts which tell us we aren’t good enough, that we aren’t worthy of food. We fill up our days in a sustained effort to squeeze the eating disorder out, but with little to do the beast has free reign of our minds.

Perhaps most significantly, many people develop eating disorders as a way of gaining a sense of control. When it comes to COVID-19, we have no control: we don’t fully understand how it works; we don’t know when it will end; we don’t know what the ultimate impact will be. In a time of such uncertainty, controlling what we eat can seem like the only way to get a hold on things. Yet this is an unprecedented and challenging time for everyone; it’s important to remember we aren’t alone. 

Stress and anxiety abound, and everybody is scared. But frightening things will always happen in life, and anorexia - or any eating disorder - will never be a way to make it through.  The best thing we can do is stay nourished, stay connected and stay well. Ask for help, whether that be with food shopping, meal plans, or finding ways to stay occupied.

Eating disorders prey on vulnerability and will seize any opportunity to bring us down. This pandemic will end; let's make sure we stay well enough to live life fully on the other side.

Click here to see more information from Student Minds about the coronavirus outbreak and mental health. For more information on coping with eating disorders, please click here


Hello! My name is Laura, I’m a recent graduate and press ambassador for Student Minds. Having struggled with anorexia and anxiety for several years, I want to help raise awareness and reduce stigma related to mental health difficulties.

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