There are stigmas around many disorders out there, but those surrounding eating disorders can be some of the toughest to deal with, especially since they tend to affect younger teens and women.
That’s perhaps why the world is taking note of a post from Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau’s Facebook page last week, in which she opened up about her own struggles with bulimia.
Canada’s First Lady spoke about her experience with bulimia during an Eating Disorder Awareness Week event on Parliament Hill, telling the crowd it was only the support of family and friends that got her through it.
“I remember feeling ashamed, thinking, ‘Why am I suffering from this?’ On the surface I had it all,” she told Global News. “I kept reading about what it was to be a bulimic and saying, ‘This is the last time I’m doing this to myself.’ I started to tremble because of too much binging and purging and thinking, ‘What is this?'”
According to Stats Canada, bulimia isn’t just when a person binge-eats and then purges with laxatives or by vomiting. It can also be defined as a person who binge-eats for a period of time and then counters that eating with extreme diet or fitness routines. Roughly 90 per cent of reported cases are female, with bulimia affecting roughly three percent of young women around the world. (Here in Canada, 1.5 per cent of Canadian women aged 15 to 24 have reported an eating disorder.)
Given the high standards to which females seem to be held in the media (just look at the trolls trying to take down Lady Gaga’s tummy after the Super Bowl), those numbers aren’t exactly surprising. Heck, even non-celebs face social media scrutiny when they post certain images of themselves.
The good news is that thanks to personalities like Trudeau who are speaking out about issues and sharing their stories, more and more people are becoming aware of the devastating consequences of eating disorders — which are a biologically influenced mental illness — can have.
“The moment I started sharing my story, obviously I had begun on my road to recovery. The response and the people who were opening up towards their own struggles to me and to other people around them was the most beautiful gift I’ve ever received,” she said. “We know what we’ve got to do. Now we really have to start taking it even more seriously and doing it.”
Of course, just talking isn’t enough. If you or someone you know suffers from an eating disorder, the National Eating Disorder Information Centre is just a call or click away.