Anorexia has made headline news in the UK this week as the case of a 32-year-old known as ‘E’ has set a new precedent in right to live / right to die cases. The 32 year old, chronic anorexic is at death’s door and has signed a living will asserting her right to refuse to be kept alive. Her family and friends support her and feel that she should be allowed to die with dignity – or with as much dignity as anorexia will ever allow.
However, Mr Justice Peter Jackson has ruled that E can be force fed to be kept alive, believing that she has a chance at a full recovery. He stated “We only live once – we are born once and we die once – and the difference between life and death is the biggest difference we know. E is a special person, whose life is of value. She does not see it that way now, but she may in future.”
This has caused a huge divide in opinion. I have spoken to many sufferers, currently in the grips of an eating disorder who feel that the judge’s decision is appalling, that E should be allowed to die peacefully and be freed from her disease once and for all.
On the other hand, I have spoken to many recovered anorexics who unanimously agree with the judge’s decision.
“There were times when I was so gripped with anorexia that I would have embraced death with open arms. Not only did I not feel that I didn’t deserve to be alive anymore, but I also felt that starving myself to the point of death would show that I had fully dedicated myself to my anorexia. Now, I find it hard to believe that I ever felt that way. Recovery has been long and difficult, but I find myself happy, successful and enjoying every day. To think that it could have been taken away from me by my illness is heart breaking. At my lowest, I would have argued for my right to die, only now can I see how wrong that decision would have been.” (Recovered anorexic)
I’m sharing this story for two reasons – firstly because I am interested in your opinions, and secondly because the words of the recovered anorexic shared above should bring hope to the loved ones of anyone suffering from an eating disorder. Recovery isn’t easy, but it IS possible.