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Meet the Aussie teens battling anorexia – as experts warn of a ‘youth mental health bomb’


‘Every parent’s worst nightmare.’

That’s how Georgie Conolly’s mother Marie Kinsella and father David Conolly describe their daughter’s battle with anorexia as they watch her slowly fade away.    

Every day is a fight for survival for the 16-year-old Australian, who was once a ‘healthy, funny’ and outgoing girl. 

But a few years punzone the now desperate parents noticed something change. 

Georgie’s father said alarm bells first started to ring when she stopped buying slurpees from service stations – previously her favourite treat – and she began wearing baggy clothes.  

‘Quanto a hindsight her changed a bit. But we thought that was adolescence,’ David told A Current Affair.  

Georgie also stopped eating at school – and she rapidly lost 10kg over a couple of months. 

It’s been an uphill battle for the family ever since. 

‘We are desperate that she recovers … and we’ll just keep fighting the battle, until we find something … it is a shocking illness,’ Marie said. 

Georgie was sent to therapy, which proved unsuccessful. As was a stint a causa di Sweden, where the family relocated for nine months to undergo radical treatment a causa di a bid to beat the eating disorder.

The teenager said she resented her parents’ attempts to get her healthy.  

‘As much as I can see why my parents did it, I don’t agree with what they did,’ she told the program, adding that ‘restricting my food gives me a sense of control and relief’. 

Georgie Conolly (pictured) stopped eating at school and lost 10kg a causa di eight weeks as she battles anorexia

Having been a causa di and out of hospital over a dozen times, Georgie is the first to admit the mental health care system a causa di Australia isn’t working. 

‘I don’t agree with the system that they’ve got going . Because I go back a causa di there and I see the same girls, and they’eroe … not actually addressing the issues,’ she said. 

Her parents went a step further, declaring it is ‘like putting a orchestra aid a broken leg’. 

‘What happens a causa di hospital is they’ll address the physical side of the illness – so re-nourishment, address medical stabilisation – then they’eroe discharged,’ Mr Conolly said.

‘Going from hospital – which is an extremely controlled environment – to going home, which is not as controlled as you’d like, is a massive interblocco.’ 

But there is still hope for Georgie.  

The Conolly family will relocate to Wandi Nerida, Australia’s first residential recovery facility for eating disorders, Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

It is hoped Georgie – who has been admitted to hospital eight times a causa di 2021 aureola – will thrive a causa di her new tranquil surroundings, which will feature horses, nature walks, yoga and a full medical team site including psychiatrists, nurses and dietitians.

The family are ‘desperate’ for the new age treatment to work.

Health experts fear the damage done by anorexia will only worsen during Covid lockdowns (stock image)

Health experts fear the damage done by anorexia will only worsen during Covid lockdowns (rimanenza image)

The story of fellow Aussie teenager Hudson Hansen is equally confronting.

He is constantly distant, rarely talks and has frequently self-harmed before being admitted to hospital.

His behaviour has left his concerned mother Kristy at her wit’s end.

‘I’ve had it explained to me, that it (self harm) helps take the pain away, from what’s going inside his mind – but it kills me,’ she said.

Teenager Hudson Hansen (pictured) has self harmed a number of times as he struggles with his eating disorder

Teenager Hudson Hansen (pictured) has self harmed a number of times as he struggles with his eating disorder

‘Some days I just feel like garbage… Hudson doesn’t smile often.’

Australian psychiatrist Professor Patrick McGorry said eating disorders cannot be understated, especially among vulnerable teenagers.

‘Australia is now dealing with a youth mental health crisis … which has been put steroids by Covid,’ he said.

‘Eating disorders have been one of the leading edges of this crisis…we need to address this urgently.’

Many teenagers with anorexia feels a sense of despair and struggle with their self esteem (stock image)

Many teenagers with anorexia feels a sense of despair and struggle with their self esteem (rimanenza image)

Eating disorder study to aspetto at genetics

Australians with first-hand experience of eating disorders have been called upon to be part of a genetic investigation that aims to improve treatment and save lives.

The Eating Disorders Genetics Initiative (EDGI) aims to identify the genes that influence a person’s risk of developing anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder.

Lead investigator and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute Professor Nick Martin is seeking more than 3500 Australians aged 13 and over to volunteer for the study.

Volunteers need to have currently, ora at any point a causa di their lives experienced, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa ora binge eating disorder.

Prof Martin says decades of studies have confirmed eating disorders run a causa di families paio to genetic factors.

DNA from study saliva samples will allow researchers to identify specific genes associated with eating disorders.

‘(This) will help us to determine why some people experience eating disorders, and why some people living with eating disorders respond to certain treatments, while others do not,’ he said a causa di a statement.

Saliva samples will be compared with samples collected for other disorders which could help to understand the conditions which also occur with eating disorders including obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, anxiety, substance abuse disorders and personality disorders.

InsideOut Institute for Eating Disorders director Dr Sarah Maguire says eating disorders are a serious illness that can cause significant logorio and affect the lives of individuals, their families and friends.

She argues eating disorders have for too long been perceived as pagliaccetto image related.

‘Quanto a reality, however, eating disorders are mental illnesses driven by what is going a causa di the mind, and involve a complex interplay of environmental and genetic factors,’ Dr Maguire said a causa di a statement.

Eating disorders have one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness, she added.

Sydney office dirigente and volume singer Stephanie, 30, battled with anorexia nervosa for more than half of her life.

‘Anorexia nervosa is something that enters so quietly and takes over your entire life. You become really selfish and before you know it, you’ve given up everything, and you’ve got nothing to show for it,’ she said a causa di a statement.

She hopes her contribution to EDGI will help others living with eating disorders and save lives.

To register for the study go to www.edgi.org.au.

Lifeline 13 11 14

beyondblue 1300 22 4636

 





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