NETFLIX's film 'To The Bone' prompts anorexia trigger warning from mental health organisations

HEALTHY AND HAPPY: Launceston-born Amy Singline says the road to recovery from anorexia isn't easy, but it's worth it. Picture: Phillip Biggs
HEALTHY AND HAPPY: Launceston-born Amy Singline says the road to recovery from anorexia isn't easy, but it's worth it. Picture: Phillip Biggs

A Launceston-born woman who nearly died from anorexia nervosa two years ago wants people to know there is a way to come back from the crippling eating disorder.

It comes as NETFLIX releases it’s film To The Bone, which has prompted mental health organisations to warn viewers about potential triggers in the movie. The film centres around a female character called Ellen, who is living with and recovering from anorexia.

Amy Singline, who grew up at Riverside, said it was important to shine a light on the issue. A few years ago, she was struggling with the eating disorder.

“It started when I was about 20, having relationship troubles, going out every weekend and not feeling 100 per cent happy about myself,” she said. 

“I started off going to the gym to get fit and healthy. Over three to four years, I went from being about 58 kilograms to being in hospital in ICU weighing a frightening 32 kilograms.”

While she was in hospital, Ms Singline’s heart rate dropped to 28 and she died three times in her sleep.

“That still wasn't the wake up call I needed to admit to having an eating disorder.”

She said her motivation wasn’t the thought she was fat, but started as an obsession with healthy eating, social media and the gym.

“I was signed up to three different gyms in Launceston, going two to three times a day, and ended up only living off greens. I felt miserable and unhappy but I didn't care. I loved being in control of not eating and being able to exercise and work three jobs.

“It wasn't until I had no energy left and my sister hearing me collapse in the shower that I ended up in hospital. I never admitted myself to hospital and I'm truly lucky to still be alive.”

Ms Singline is now 26 and living on the Gold Coast.

“Still to this day I need to be mindful of meal prepping and making sure I take enough food to work, don't do too much cardio at the gym and do more strength training.

“There is no quick fix for eating disorders but I'm finally 54 kilograms again and have come a long way in my recovery. 

“The only way to recover is to admit to having a problem and doing something about it. Slow, small changes are better than staying depressed and unhappy.

“It all takes time and your family and friends have to stay as strong as they can. The road to recovery isn't easy but it's worth it.”

Butterfly Foundation’s advice for the community

Butterfly has received enquiries and comments around the film ‘To The Bone’ from the community. The foundation has put together some information and tips to encourage safe viewing and help seeking.

STARTING CONVERSATIONS 

Having appropriate conversations around the seriousness of eating disorders, and the importance of reaching out for help is vital:

  • Be aware - The most important thing you can do is to be prepared and educate yourself as much as possible about eating disorders, to understand the complexity of the illness, signs to look out for and associated behaviours.
  • Approaching someone. If you are concerned about someone, letting them know that you care about them and that you are there for support, is key.

SAFE VIEWING 

Butterfly is aware that NETFLIX’s To the Bone could be triggering and raise concerns for those who have an eating disorder, are at risk of an eating disorder, or have previously had an eating disorder. Here are a few things that we would like you to consider: 

  • Should I watch the film? – If you are experiencing an eating disorder, we encourage you to speak with your health professional or support networks before viewing, to see if this is suitable. If after viewing the trailer, you feel overwhelmed, it is advised that you do not watch the film and speak with your support person. If you are really unsure about whether you should view the film, call Butterfly’s National Helpline on 1800 33 4673.
  • Parental supervision – We encourage young people to speak to their parents about the film before viewing, as well as parents to speak to their children. If it is decided that you will watch the film, watching it together may be helpful to discuss any issues or concerns that may arise when viewing. 
  • Self-care – Viewing the film may raise complex feelings and emotions. Debriefing with someone you trust can assist in working through your emotions and identify whether you should seek additional support.

IF YOU NEED HELP

If this film raises concerns for you or someone you know, we encourage you to reach out for support. Key national support services include:

  • Butterfly Foundation National Helpline 1800 33 4673 (AEST 8:00am – 9:00pm, MON – FRI) www.thebutterflyfoundation.org.au
  • Lifeline 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au
  • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au
  • Beyondblue 1300 224 636 www.beyondblue.org.au
  • Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 www.kidshelpline.com.au
  • Headspace 1800 650 890 www.headspace.org.au