A letter from Emily
Dear Amy and Mary,
This morning I received a large envelope. Inside was a copy of an article about your work, torn out of the Mail on Sunday. I read the article and it made me cry. I wish that some people like you had come into my school when I was about eleven or twelve.
I remember sitting in lessons writing essays about Shakespeare whilst mentally adding up the number of calories I'd eaten that day. I also used to daydream that someone would come along that I could talk to about what I was feeling.
One day in a geography lesson I thought I'd got my chance at last. Our teacher asked us to write out a list of what a typical family in Africa would eat in one day, and a list of what we had eaten the day before beside it. I wrote 'half an apple.' I handed my homework in, terrified of what I might have done, but relieved that at last I had told someone. Wednesday came around and the homework was handed back. I opened my book to find 'And you're still alive!' appended (in red pen) to the bottom of my work. No one mentioned the matter further. I took the comment as a sign that perhaps I was eating as much as I should be, and was still too fat. I started hanging around with a group of girls who constantly talked about the best ways of making yourself sick and where it was easiest to buy laxatives from. Having an eating disorder was a popular pastime at my school.
That was almost ten years ago. I still have an eating disorder. I have tried to get better, but I've never stayed that way for more than a year - 'better' just isn't all it's cracked up to be. I've had this too long now to give it up; it's all I have. But I can't help thinking how different things might have been had someone warned me what I was getting into.
I think the situation is a little better now, teachers are more aware of eating disorders, but I suspect they still do not become aware of the problem until it is too late. I suppose my point (that I've taken up far too much of your time by saying in a very long, drawn-out, self-obsessed way) is that I think your work is amazing and very valuable. Good luck for the future of your organisation.