In the lead up to Christmas, we spare a thought or two for those of us who suffer — or have suffered — with eating disorders of any kind. We see organisations and accounts offer advice and a helping hand to those who need it during the festive season, and it's heartwarming to see people offering their support for those who have trouble keeping their heads above water when it comes to their disordered eating. Whilst this is so, so wonderful (and appreciated by those who need it), Christmas isn't the only time of the year where a public holiday creates anxiety or triggering situations for those with eating disorders and those in recovery.
Easter, religious elements aside, is essentially a long weekend that revolves around chocolate. Lots of chocolate. But because it's just that one weekend, rather than a fortnight period much like Christmas, I see very little (if any) support out there for people who may be struggling particularly at this time of year. Chocolate, whether it be eggs, bunnies, or other Easter themed variations, begin lining the shelves roughly around the first week of March. I always thought it was just me who found themselves in limbo at this time of year, battling between the temptation of buying one (or more) of the overpriced eggs, and sheer panic, depending on the kind of day I was having. But when I went to my CBT group this week, the subject of Easter came up amongst a few of us, and it was met with the same kind of dread that I could relate to.
It's easy to say that because Easter is shorter lived than Christmas, that it's a less difficult time. But Easter is also a time that often includes a reunion of family, a meal, and of course, sweet things in excess, so the blueprint doesn't stray that far from that of the holiday season. Sure it doesn't necessarily come with the media bullshit that Christmas does - Get in shape for your perfect Christmas LBD! or Lose the Christmas kilos! - and the pressures around it are much more relaxed, but what we need to remember is that when food is something that you find majorly distressing, not being inundated with diet culture crap doesn't necessarily make it any easier for you in the moment.
So if you have a friend, a family member, or significant other who struggles with an eating disorder, don't overlook Easter Bank Holiday weekend. Check in on them. See if there's anything they want or need, whether that be someone to talk to or someone to help them check themselves out of a triggering situation. If you're spending the weekend with them, actively try to make their time around food as relaxed as possible; even if they seem like they have it together on the outside, on the inside, there's likely mental carnage going down.
Enjoy your Easter and those extra couple of days off from work, but just remember to be mindful of those around you who may need the extra support — they'll be forever grateful for you making things that bit less traumatic.