I was admitted to Westmead Hospital on 16 December 2010.
The summer holidays had just begun. The sun was shining. Christmas was just around the corner.
Instead of wrapping gifts I was on bedrest attached to a 24 hour liquid feed. Instead of decorating the house I was living in a ward with ten other people suffering from anorexia. I didn’t set foot outside the hospital walls for seven days.
I had just turned 14.
I was reminded of this day when I went to get a coffee from my local bakery this weekend and saw the front page of the Daily Telegraph.
My heart sank as I read the full story.
According to The Daily Telegraph “the Children’s Hospital at Westmead’s Eating Disorder Service is reporting a fourfold increase in hospital admissions over the past 15 years as well as a tenfold increase in outpatient consultations.”
And it gets worse.
The age of admission is getting younger and younger with some hospitals admitting children as young as six.
These children, who should still be playing with Lego and swinging off the monkey bars, are being fed through tubes. Their little bodies, which haven’t gone through puberty yet, are being starved of vital nutrients.
Watch Demi Lovato talk honestly about her eating disorder. (Post continues after video.)
The article attributes the rise in hospitalisation and the age of sufferers to the obsession with fad diets and social media. I couldn’t agree more.
When I was hospitalised back in 2010 there was no such thing as Instagram or Snapchat. I didn’t have a Smartphone. Facebook was just taking off. And still, in the absence of most smart technology and social networking, I was deeply effected by the messages and images that surrounded me.
I read the article and was greatly saddened, but not surprised. In a society where image is currency and thinness is expected whether you’re young or old I can understand why children are getting ill.
Consider what they’re looking at. Every morning when they check their phones they log into Instagram and what do they see? The ‘ideal’ body image reflected back to them. Six packs. Bums. Boobs. Stomachs. And they don’t have the skills, tools or experience to breakdown and analyse what they’re seeing.