One year ago, 56 year old actress Briony McRoberts took her own life, jumping in front of a train. Her real killer? Anorexia.
After suffering with the eating disorder in her teenage years, Briony had lived a normal life, relatively free from Anorexic tendencies until she reached her 50’s and the illness began to develop again, this time fatally. On BBC Radio 5 Live this morning (see link below) her husband, Downton Abbey actor David Robb gave an incredibly moving, influential interview discussing Briony’s struggle, in a bid to raise awareness of the fact that Anorexia can effect anyone, at any age and it is not just a phase which is going to go away.
Although eating disorders may be more widely discussed now than a few years back, it is still generally thought that Anorexia is a ‘teenage girls illness’. Briony’s tragic story brings to the forefront just how real and dangerous Anorexia is. I personally, found the discussion extremely difficult to listen to, it really hit home hard, as I’m sure it did for many other listeners, but I felt an overwhelming respect for David for speaking so bravely, with such depth and understanding and for bringing the issue to attention. As harrowing as stories such as this are, society needs people such as David, and the other women who called in to the show to share their stories, to speak out. This is the first step to making people aware of the reality and creating some sort of general understanding.
A woman, also in her 50’s and a sufferer of Anorexia since her teens, spoke honestly and openly on the show of how the Anorexic voice in her mind is stronger than her love for her four children. It is completely unfathomable to a non-sufferer but it is the brutal truth.
Just as a sufferer of alcohol or drug abuse can overcome their addiction but it will still stay with them, lurking in wait of an opportunity to show up again, a knock back in life, a moment of weakness, Anorexia is the same. It never goes away, it can be overcome, but there is always a chance that the sufferer will resort to those same coping mechanisms (starvation) again, giving the illness the power to manifest again.
People do make full recoveries from Anorexia and live a life free from the illness, but it doesn’t just disappear. Anorexia can affect anyone, any age. It isn’t just a fad and it isn’t going away.