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The Weigh Up explores life after anorexia

This BBC Sounds podcast is a first-person account of how recovery from the eating disorder is possible.

By Anna Leszkiewicz

For those in the grip of an eating disorder, getting better can seem impossible or simply undesirable – making stories of recovery particularly valuable. Molly was 14 when she was first diagnosed with anorexia and has been in recovery for four years. In this BBC podcast she speaks with the health professionals who treated her and with her family about the beginnings of her disordered thinking, the diagnosis, and her battle with herself to accept help. Stephen Clarke, a mental health nurse who worked with Molly, emphasises how unwilling she was to let go of her anorexia, saying she was a “tough nut to crack”.     

This is an accessible, chatty podcast aimed specifically at those with experience of eating disorders, or of having loved ones who do. It’s light on science and straightforwardly engaging, avoiding potentially “triggering” discussions of weight, exercise or detailed descriptions of how the illness remained undetected. Molly says that, in the beginning, her eating disorder was “her best friend”. It might seem counterproductive to discuss the ways in which anorexia made Molly “happy”, but Clarke insists this is important for professionals and support systems as it enables them to communicate a deeper level of understanding, and ensures they focus on offering a more fulfilling alternative.   

Molly speaks with her parents and younger sister about the impact the eating disorder had on the family – how it made her unpredictable and aggressive, and encouraged her to “hate the people she loved”. They discuss Molly’s lowest moments: a tantrum in a restaurant on holiday, a near heart attack, a violent incident at home, even a suicide attempt. They still sound shell-shocked by how anorexia tore through her childhood and adolescence; her sister says that as a coping mechanism she has forgotten large chunks of those years. Molly apologises, but there is little blame. Her mother’s advice to other parents is simple: “Act quick, be persistent.”

The Weigh Up: Eating Disorder Diaries
BBC Sounds

[See also: Our Shamima Begum obsession]

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This article appears in the 08 Mar 2023 issue of the New Statesman, Why universities are making us stupid