Saturday 19 August 2017

Comedian Joanne McNally was inspiring on The Tommy Tiernan Show as she discussed her eating disorder

Joanne McNally on The Tommy Tiernan Show
Joanne McNally on The Tommy Tiernan Show

Sasha Brady

Irish comedian Joanne McNally is being praised for her honest and unflinching account of her struggle with anorexia and bulimia.

The former Republic of Telly star appeared on Thursday night's The Tommy Tiernan Show, alongside musician John Grant and GAA player Philly McMahon, for the last episode of the series.

True to form, McNally didn't flinch away from the difficult questions and opened up about some painful moments from her past.

She spoke candidly about tracking down her biological parents and gave an honest account of her bulimia and anorexia which haunted her for years but which, ultimately, inspired her comedy writing.

When asked by Tiernan how a family member should best deal with someone who has an issue with food, she responded: "One bit of advice that I would give - one that worked for me - if you say to someone with an eating disorder 'you're too thin, they don't hear you saying they're too thin [in a negative way]... they hear it as a compliment.

"What worked for me was friends telling me 'you look really sick, you look sick, you look really unwell.'"

She added: "You can't tell someone they're too thin because that spurs them on. They're achieving what they want to achieve so I would change tact and say 'you look really, really unwell'."

The comedian said her issues came to a head when, one day while working for a PR firm, her body shut down and she had to be taken home by her mother. She was eventually sent for treatment but it was a long journey before she eventually understood that her issues weren't about food or her body.

"When I was in school there was a girl with an eating disorder and people would say 'it's not about food, it's about control' and I would think 'that's bullshit, of course it's about her body'," she explained.

"I couldn't understand it and I don't think I really fully understood it until I was about a year into treatment, the penny dropped and I realised this has nothing to do with my body."

 

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