Trigger warning: This post deals with eating disorders and may be triggering for some readers.
An Australian politician has shared her own struggle with an eating disorder to help us understand this life-threatening disease.
The head of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and former ACT chief minister, Kate Carnell, has turned the national spotlight on the tragic reality of eating disorders in an interview with ABC’s 7.30, where she shared details of her own battle with anorexia nervosa as a teenager.
“What I remember is feeling sick all the time, having tension headaches all the time, feeling really rotten about myself, about what I was doing to others in my life, and having an absolute focus on food,” Carnell told 7:30 host Leigh Sales.
“I was stick thin, but people would say ‘wow, you’re looking so great.’ I wasn’t. I was looking really skinny.”
At the age of 15, Carnell left her Brisbane-based family to reside in a psychiatric hospital in Sydney.
Carnell said this decision was difficult for her parents, but “What were they going to do? They thought I was going to die.”
“Year nine was doctors, hospitals, nausea, vomiting, not much school, and a family who walked on egg shells,” Carnell said.
“I thought that if I started to eat, I would lose control, and the thought of putting on weight again was absolutely petrifying.”
Now, Carnell is raising awareness of this fatally misunderstood disease. She points out the consequences — both physical and mental — can be lifelong.
“Food is still much more of a focus in my life than it should be. I still have to have little discussions with myself about body image because I still have a view… I still naturally think I’m too fat,” she said.