- The pandemic has impacted and intensified people’s behaviours, thoughts and feelings and ultimately, their lived experience of eating disorders. For example, feeling that things are out of control, chaotic and there is increased stress without routines to cope. There’s been a sense of feeling trapped. Increased eating disorder thoughts make it hard to concentrate on other things. People have also reported tiredness and low energy from trying to process what’s been happening.
- Secondly, communication challenges – whether that’s from being at home, talking to family or a partner. Having to educate someone if they’ve no knowledge of eating disorders/mental health or not feeling able to explain things and trying to rationalise/explain what’s in your head to others. Dealing with the stress of speaking up because others perceive you are recovered/in recovery/’strong’ is also difficult. This creates more isolation. There is worry about disappointing others, not wishing to burden them, but also a sense of being treated as different. Some people have described thoughtlessness from others even though they know about a person’s eating disorder. This has a bearing whether they are receptive to explanations & communication.
- Thirdly, it has affected people’s thinking in relation to, and experience of, recovery and relapse. For instance, old/prior eating disorders thoughts coming back to the surface, a sense the eating disorder has re-emerged which brings up feelings of punishment, letting yourself down. There is uncertainty about being ready to recover and fear about having to restart recovery. Whilst regular eating brings energy and strength to the non-eating disorder (ED) side of the person, the ED isn’t happy about this. A positive people have remarked on is trying to think about wanting to live life without an eating disorder and the sense of freedom which can come from that.
- Finally, the environment has become more stressful. This is a mixture of factors, such as diet talk/fitness routines on social media, a focus on constant self-improvement and casual food or weight talk from others, living alone or not having sufficient alone time. People have highlighted pressure to be better and have a plan – in reality, they are just trying to manage day-to-day.
This is a snapshot of what people have described to us in recent months.
It, as always, is our privilege to listen.