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Book Review: Hope With Eating Disorders by Lynn Crilly


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Hope With Eating Disorders: A Self-Help Guide for Parents, Carers and Friends of Sufferers is now in its second edition and has been helping those with eating disorders all over the world.

Lynn Crilly, image courtesy of Literally PR 

When looking at a selection of self-help books, it is always difficult to know which are reliable and genuine and which are perhaps following trends or attempting solely to gain royalties. Of all of the books I have ever read around maintaining a healthy lifestyle regarding recovery from eating disorders, I can begin this review by saying there are very few works as loyal to their title and as honest in approach as this one.

As suggested in the subheading, Hope With Eating Disorders isn’t a book for sufferers alone but is one designed by a parent for other parents and for anyone who wants to gain a clearer understanding of what eating disorders are and how to best help those struggling to overcome them.

This genuinity is established immediately, Lynn Crilly sharing openly her own experience with mental health and eating disorders. Her daughter Samantha was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa and OCD in her early teens and since then, Crilly and her family have been on a difficult journey to find out more about how to help their daughter. In this process and in the initial stages of her daughter’s recovery, Lynn Crilly began to help others in similar situations and to build up her own counselling ability so that she might continue this work in supporting frightened parents, carers, siblings and friends.

From this determination to help came also the writing of Hope With Eating Disorders, a book which is now being published in its second edition after helping many to gain further understanding of these complex, destructive mental illnesses and the different treatments available. With an increasing public awareness of what eating disorders are, Crilly stresses early on, her hope is to continue raising that awareness to encompass a knowledge of the complexity involved in these illnesses opposed to reducing them all to one simplified image. After all, eating disorders do not happen to only one type of person and one specific way as is often perpetuated by the media but are instead immensely contradictory, existing in a different form for every sufferer.

From this introduction, the book is divided into 12 chapters each handling different facets of eating disorders, beginning with what they are, breaking this down into the range of eating disorders that exist and moving on to discuss seeking treatment and even the differing impact on both men and women.

What makes the chapters so engaging and easy to read is that Crilly approaches this difficult topic with openness; there is no restriction in her use of language but instead honesty and clarity. The grey boxes on each page highlight particularly useful quotes from the information and in this regard, it’s easier to find sections that might be more helpful than others and to move past sections which might be a bit triggering to approach immediately.

Whilst published with a chronological order, the reason this guide is so useful and different to others in the market is because it can be dipped in and out of; every page is relevant and useful regardless of its place in the book. And whilst it can at times of course be extremely hard to keep reading, from the moment it begins and from the very layout of the page there is no pressure to commit and keep reading. Instead Crilly stresses the importance of self pace and to stop and start where works best, or step away and research when appropriate. 

As an individual who struggles with their own mental health, I cannot think of a better way to handle the topic of eating disorders than that Lynn Crilly has done. The writing is not dry or jargon based but instead full of hope; every word promises that with hard work and in sticking things out, things do get better. This message is so vital to those who feel hopeless and in restating it as she does, especially with the support of her own personal story, there is very much a feeling that through research and through reading there are answers to be found. And in the acknowledgement of those answers, in the research and advice she provides, there is hope.

To end as she did her book, I’d like to end this review by sharing a few words from Crilly’s daughter Samantha because they sum up this guide better than any words I have provided here:

I know and believe that everyone has the strength to beat their demons; it won’t be easy; it will probably be one of the hardest challenges you will ever face, but one thing I can promise from the bottom of my heart is that when you come out the other side you will feel exhilarated with life.

Trust me on this one - you will never, ever regret recovery.

Hope With Eating Disorders by Lynn Crilly is published by Hammersmith Health Books, £15.99.

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