Thursday, 9 Jun 2005
It was like the happy ending in a fairy tale.
The beautiful princess, dressed in a dreamy, faerie-like gown, swans off to the ball on the arm of a prince. It is a moment of glory for 16-year-old Emma Codrington, leaving for her first school formal with a life-long friend.
And yet the magic in this moment is not based solely on the beauty of her attire or the chivalry of the prince. As in any fairy tale, this moment is framed by what the princess has endured – her battle against an adversary.
Emma’s nemesis is anorexia nervosa, a debilitating eating disorder that affects 70 million individuals worldwide (Crowther, et al. 1995).
Since the main onset of the illness materialised at 12 years of age, Emma has endured life-threatening weight loss, prolonged hospital stays, social isolation and mental anguish.
While we’d all love to believe that Emma’s school formal is the classic fairy tale ending, this is not the end of her fight against anorexia, but rather a turning point in her journey of recovery.
After years of starving her body of nourishment, a pressing need is to allow her body to grow and develop into adulthood. She must also face issues with perfectionism, low self-esteem – her desire to be invisible – and recapturing lost time with friends and loved ones.
It is a journey that we will follow with Emma and her family throughout the year, with the aim of providing inspiration to those facing similar challenges, as well as greater awareness of an illness that is largely misunderstood.
Click here to send a message of encouragement to Emma.
If you would like to share your own eating disorder experience, or that of a friend or family member, please email us your thoughts. We may publish a selection of these responses, as another way of breaking the barriers of misconception regarding eating disorders.
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