Welcome to our help and support page for people affected by eating disorders. This page also provides help and support resources for families and carers.
Anna explains that she didn’t think anorexia could affect her and shares the challenges she faced when trying to do something that most of us take for granted – shop for food at the supermarket. Anna received treatment from the CONNECT eating disorders service and explains how she benefited from both one-to-one and group sessions.
She has the following message for anyone who is considering taking the first step and asking for help: “Going to CONNECT and getting help was the best decision. I was so incredibly lucky… to make that step. I would say don’t be scared and take the leap of faith now.”
Abbie speaks openly about the moment she realised she needed extra support. She shares her experiences of the CONNECT service and how her feelings on group therapy changed during her time there.
Abbie says: “Looking back, I can understand why I was scared [about group therapy] but having now been through it, it’s really not scary at all. The people you meet are really nice. You almost have to feel the fear and do it anyway!”
Nicola – a carer’s story
An eating disorder doesn’t just affect those diagnosed. It can be felt far more widely and seeing a loved one battle an eating disorder can be particularly hard for families. Nicola is Abbie’s sister. In the following film, she looks at things from a sibling’s perspective and explains how receiving family therapy at CONNECT helped.
The two most common types of eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa.
Anorexia (or Anorexia Nervosa) is a serious mental illness where people are of low weight due to limiting their energy intake. It can affect anyone of any age, gender, or background. As well as restricting the amount of food eaten, they may do lots of exercise to compensate for food eaten. Some people with anorexia may experience cycles of bingeing (eating large amounts of food at once) and then purging.
People with anorexia often have a distorted image of themselves and think they’re larger than they really are. They can experience a deep fear of gaining weight and will often challenge the idea that they should.
There are many different reasons that someone might develop anorexia, but it’s important to remember that eating disorders are often not about food itself. They are mental illnesses, and treatment looks at the underlying thoughts and feelings that cause this behaviour, as well as promoting behavioural change.
Bulimia (or Bulimia Nervosa) is a serious mental illness. It can affect anyone of any age, gender, or background. People with bulimia are caught in a cycle of eating large quantities of food (called bingeing), and then trying to compensate for that overeating by vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics, fasting, or exercising excessively (called purging).
During a binge, people with bulimia don’t feel in control of how much, or how quickly they’re eating. Some people also say that they feel as though they’re disconnected from what they’re doing. The food eaten during a binge may include things the person would usually avoid. Episodes of bingeing are often very distressing because people with bulimia place strong emphasis on their weight and shape, and may see themselves as much larger than they are.
The binge/purge cycles associated with bulimia can dominate daily life and lead to difficulties in relationships and social situations. However, as people with bulimia often maintain a “normal” weight and hide their illness from others, it can be very difficult to spot from the outside.
People with bulimia may have mood swings and can also be preoccupied with and secretive around food. Feeling self-conscious about eating around others, low self-esteem and feelings of guilt, shame, and anxiety, especially after a binge, are also common.
Managing Social Media – a guide developed by our colleagues at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust to help address concerns about body image, eating disorders and mental health online.
CONNECT Service User Support Group
CONNECT provides a weekly service user support group which is open to anyone with an eating disorder from that catchment area regardless of whether or not they are currently receiving treatment from CONNECT.
The CONNECT service user support group is temporarily not running as it is being redeveloped. The new group should be available again in Summer 2019.
CONNECT Family and Carers Peer Support Group
CONNECT provides a monthly family and carers support group which is open to family and carers of anyone with an eating disorder from that catchment area regardless of whether or not they are currently receiving treatment from CONNECT.
The support group takes place on the first Wednesday of every month from 7pm – 8:30pm at the Newsam Centre, Seacroft Hospital, York Road, Leeds LS14 6WB. We meet in the group floor waiting room opposite reception.