Eating Disorders Week: Martina Trevisan's inspiring story of recovery from anorexia nervosa
Updated: Apr 24
Last autumn there was an inspirational story of recovery to come out of the women's singles French Open tennis tournament, and I wanted to write about it today to coincide with Eating Disorders Awareness Week which started on Monday.
I'm always so thrilled when someone decides to use their own experiences to help others and it's especially encouraging when it comes from a top international athlete.
Italian player Martina Trevisan is a great example of this, having battled back to top level tennis after a four year break, during which she was dangerously ill with anorexia. Her brave and brilliant come back resulted in a fantastic run to the quarter finals of the French Open at Roland Garros, in Paris last year.
I followed the story closely from the moment she beat young American star Coco Gauff in the second round from when the story grew and grew.
Having already won her way through three rounds of qualifying beforehand and seeing off compatriot Camilla Giorgi in the first main draw round, Martina's story began to leak out with more and more journalists covering the fascinating anorexia recovery story.
Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by weight loss from starvation which affects the sufferers ability to maintain an appropriate body weight for their height, age, and stature. It affects people of all ages, genders, sexual orientations, races and ethnicities and is the most deadly of all eating disorders and mental conditions with a death rate that's 12 times higher than the mortality rate of ALL causes of death for females 15-24 years old.
These terribly sad and worrying numbers make recovery stories all the more important and that's why I wanted to focus on Martina's French Open success and her account of survival against the odds and triumph over adversity, which brings with it so much HOPE around an otherwise difficult and misunderstood disorder.
The reasons behind the development of anorexia are complicated and likely to be different for each individual sufferer. In Martina's case the worry and stress which evolved from learning about her fathers diagnosis of a degenerative disease, left her vulnerable mentally, and gave rise to the onset of the illness.
This combined with the pressure to succeed in professional tennis, meant that she started to look for ways to add control to her life, resulting in her restricting calories, surviving on one piece of fruit and a tiny portion of cereal a day.
But through resilience, patience and an iron will to beat the illness, she slowly recovered, started to coach tennis again and then play, regaining her passion for the sport and working her way back up the rankings. She's clawed her way back up inside the world's top 100 again and after beating several top players at Roland Garros, is now a respected member of the elite top group of women's players.
In one of her interviews she gave a wonderful message of hope and comfort which really helped to inspire me to share my own story of survival and recovery. She said;
"Don't ever give up, even in the toughest moments where it feels like life wants the worst for you, like it doesn't care about you at all. Stay strong and seek the light. Because there is light there and it will arrive".
When I heard her say that, I immediately noted it down and I have a screen shot of the quote on my phone to refer to in times of doubt. She's really inspired me and I hope that she will do a lot more in the way of helping to encourage and support others through her experience and recovery from anorexia.
There's so much more to write about eating disorders and a friend very kindly sent me a very informative email yesterday, detailing many of the problems surrounding the stigma, misunderstanding and treatment issues, involved in illnesses like anorexia.
I will be covering all of this in a future post when I can concentrate on some of the important points that my friend has pointed out and highlighted.
If you would like to read Martina Trevisan's wonderfully inspiring story of survival and recovery then you can find it in The New York Times article which I have added here.
Please keep sharing these posts to others and if you have any interesting points that you would like me to discuss, either about eating disorders or any other mental health related illnesses and topics, then do please send them to me.
Thanks for reading,
Speak to you soon,