After 10 years of suffering and starvation, Ellyanne El-Moujaber realised bulimia would take her life if she didn’t get help.
The now recovered 28-year-old is determined to break the silence about bulimia by creating a free online forum for those bearing the burdens of eating disorders.
Ellyanne said the battle between body image and body shaming has left many sufferers stuck in the cross fire, unaware of services available and too afraid to call out for help.
“I didn’t know where to go or who to reach out to, and even then, the help I was getting wasn’t right for me,” Ellyanne El-Moujaber said.
“I want the online forum to become a community, a safe place people can come to interact with others who have been in the same position.”
In Australia, bulimia nervosa is the eighth leading cause of burden disease and injury, accounting for 14 per cent of hospital admissions.
The eating disorder affects nine per cent of the population but its impact remains underestimated due to the social stigma anchoring sufferers in shame and guilt.
Psychologist Helen Kyriacos said young people with eating disorders are over 10-times more likely to die prematurely due to increased risk of suicide and serious physical health issues arising from the effects of bingeing, purging and starvation.
“It’s a real shock that such a destructive disease causes so much damage but remains stigmatised by a society that will not break down the bathroom door,” Dr Kyriacos said.
“Combatting eating disorders relies on positive networks and reinforcement, without that support the statistics are just going to keep rising.”
According to Ellyanne, Our Food Diary will be active next month. Unlike most current sites, it will not charge a membership fee and will host interactive chat rooms with other survivors.
“I know what it’s like to feel hopeless. I want this to be their hope,” she said.
If you recognise the signs of an eating disorder in you or anyone you know contact Lifeline on 131 114 on the Butterfly Foundation on 1800 33 4673.