Who do you see when you imagine an anorexic?

An emaciated girl – protesting at puberty though her hunger – a teenage over-achiever trying to be perfect – a Snapchat thinspiration model? It is almost certainly a young girl whose family are fighting to save her life as she destroys her future.

What about a man, a person of colour, a mother or an elegant slim and successful woman. The woman you see on the street, at work or the gym – slender, but not painfully so and presenting an image of strength and confidence.

But that person who conforms to all our society’s expectations may be hiding a secret.

Do they spend their evenings alone, bingeing and purging? Lose weekends in a coma of sugar overload? Look on holidays as an excuse to eat to excess then fast?

Are they lost in a cycle of self-hatred, slowly destroying their physical and mental health?

Eating disorders are one of the most prevalent mental health conditions in 2015 it was estimated that 725,000 people are affected. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. 20% of sufferers will die.

Even the most optimistic statistics state that less than half will make a full recovery.

Early intervention in mental health is vital – so many teenagers could be helped to build a better life without falling into the pit of long term depression or eating disorders. But there is also a hidden need – sufferers who live with shame, fear and guilt and see nowhere to turn.

Please ask for help, talk to a medical professional – if you are ignored try again – please fight – your life is worth saving.

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