Miriam’s Musings

Coping with the chaos of lockdown provokes surge in eating disorders

According to the HSE’s Model of Care for Eating Disorders, (launched in 2018), it’s estimated that approximately ‘1,757 new cases’ of these conditions ‘occur in Ireland each year in the 10-49 age group’.

My reason for touching on this upsetting subject is twofold. Firstly, it comes on foot of the news that reality TV contestant Nikki Grahame, who came to prominence on Big Brother, sadly passed away last week at the young age of 38. It has been widely reported that, prior to her death, Ms. Grahame had been receiving treatment for an eating disorder at a specialist clinic following a fundraising campaign organised by her friends.

My second reason regards an item I read on www.irishexaminer.com. The article quotes Dr. Sara McDevitt, a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, as saying, “Both community eating disorder services and GPs are reporting a large rise in eating disorders during the Covid pandemic, with almost half of 2020 referrals being made in the last three months of the year to one adolescent service”.

I’m no medical expert folks, but to me, that statement suggests that this lockdown and the resulting social isolation (which is clearly leading to many feeling they’ve lost control over their own lives), is causing a tsunami of mental health issues; and in this instance, a surge in eating disorders. I’d imagine, in an enforced environment whereby the focus is placed on staying home, on isolating ourselves from loved ones, in working remotely and in cutting ourselves off from all we hold dear, it becomes obvious  that food, whether restricting it or over-indulging in it, would  now dominate our humdrum existence? To put it plainly, for some, weight control has become a way of coping with the chaos caused by lockdown.

Of course we will all handle lockdown differently. For some it has proved to be a Godsend, as in they view it as being a less stressful and less pressurised situation. However, for others, the disruption caused to their carefully planned daily routines has resulted in them feeling a level of anxiety and tension. I don’t mind telling you readers, I fall into the latter category, and personally feel very disconnected from my daily tasks, my work patterns and my natural environment, etc. That being said, I do know this situation is only temporary and the easing of restrictions will bring about family gatherings and much longed-for hugs with my nearest and dearest.

This pandemic, (and the loss of protective factors caused by it),  has played a significant role in the rise of eating disorders, and from what I understand, (lockdown or no lockdown) these medical conditions, which cause a major disturbance in a person’s diet; are really quite complicated. In fact if anyone reading this column suspects that someone close to them is displaying signs of having an unhealthy relationship with food, they’ll know that raising the issue with them may prove to be somewhat awkward; indeed, I’d go so far as to suggest, it could be extremely distressing.

However, I feel it is very important to point out that while lots of people decide to change their diet in order to follow a healthier lifestyle, or to perhaps drop a bit of weight for whatever reason, very few of them will go on to develop an eating disorder. My sincere condolences go to Ms. Grahame’s family and friends. May she rest in peace.

* If any readers require help or support regarding an eating disorder, please log on to www.bodywhys.ie or call their helpline on Ph: 01-2107906.


Big thanks to the staff at Roscommon Hospital

While I’d like to commend the hard work, professionalism and dedication of all frontline workers across the country, and indeed several members of my own family who are working in frontline roles, I want to give a special mention this week to the staff at Roscommon Hospital.

Some weeks ago, as I was kneeling to play with our energetic fur babies, I leaned backwards and fell down hard on my coccyx, (tailbone), badly bruising it. In short, I had a pain in my bottom which was pretty sore. As a precaution, my doctor referred me to Roscommon Hospital for a lumber spine x-ray. My appointment was for 3 pm last Thursday. I arrived at 2.55 pm, where an efficient and very pleasant porter met me inside the entrance, and, having ascertained where I was going, directed me to the x-ray department.

Once there, I dealt with a friendly receptionist who took details, invited me to take a seat and assured me I’d be seen to “within a few minutes”. She didn’t lie. In under two minutes, a lovely, cheerful radiographer escorted me into the x-ray department,  proceeded to do the imagining and, quite literally, as my watch struck 3.10 pm I had been greeted, processed, x-rayed and I was standing out in the hospital car park…now how efficient is that?

Fair play to everyone who works at our county hospital; your friendliness, efficiency, and your caring and sensitive nature is, in my experience and in my humble opinion, second to none. You’re all doing an amazing job!


Remembering Shay, a genuine gent!

As tributes pour in following the sad news of Shay Healy’s passing, I’d like to add mine to the long list. As someone who worked at our national broadcaster for many, many years, I not only shared a coffee or three with Shay in the staff canteen, (or ‘the canner’ as we called it), I also interviewed him for The Evening Herald – now known as The Herald.

Every encounter I had with Shay ended with me walking away thinking what a genuine gent, what a legend (and I’m not in the habit of bestowing the accolade ‘legend’ on many people) and what a skilful raconteur he was…wow, Shay could certainly tell a tale!

However folks, I’m sure many of you will remember Shay for his Nighthawks’ interview with former Justice Minister Sean Doherty, whose revelations regarding phone tapping not only led to the resignation of then Taoiseach Charles Haughey; his disclosure collapsed a government and sent shockwaves right across this nation. Indeed you could call it Ireland’s ‘Watergate’!

I’m sure readers, especially those of a certain age, will remember that, due to it being engulfed in quite a bit of controversy, the then government was dubbed as the GUBU administration, i.e. grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented.

However, my aim is not to acknowledge either the late Charles Haughey or the late Sean Doherty, (may they both rest in peace), nor is it my intention to disrespect their memories, but I have to be honest and say that neither of these politicians impressed me in the slightest. I only reference them in the context of Mr. Healy’s much-loved Nighthawks show and the fact he had no idea that Mr. Doherty – who at the time had been cast into political wilderness – had just handed him the scoop of a lifetime. Charlie, the great survivor and my former North Dublin neighbour, fell on his sword. Mr. Doherty, your former neighbour who’d allegedly carried the can, regained his seat in the 1992 General Election. May all three men rest in peace.