This is the second in a series about getting help if you suffer from disordered eating. Read the first part here. I am not a professional; everything I say is based on my own experience. Always consult with your own doctor. This post mentions specific food and ED behaviours – do not read if you are easily triggered.
Its often heard that admitting you have a problem is the first step. This may be true, but things don’t necessarily get easier from here on in. I was slowly realising that I had a problem. What I hadn’t yet accepted was how severe this problem was. To me, you were only allowed get outside help if you were noticeably unwell – when I started vomiting after every meal and weighed 5 stone, only then would I require help.
Unfortunately, this is the thinking of many ED sufferers. In my case, I didn’t even suffer from anything that was well-recognised in society – my non-purging bulimia seemed to me to be nothing more than a strong commitment to healthy eating and exercise. I never ate as low as the typical anorexic, I didn’t binge often enough for BED and I certainly couldn’t be bulimic – I wasn’t even able to make myself vomit!
This is where EDs and treatment becomes so messy. Sometimes it feels like society thinks only severely underweight anorexics are worth helping. The sad truth is there is no cookie cutter definitions of who needs help and tell tale behaviours can largely go unnoticed. I was engaging in ED behaviours for over a year before anyone started to notice anything strange. I know someone who has been suffering since 2008 and only in the last few months has been getting help.
Its a vicious cycle – the sufferer does not want (or does not feel sick enough) to get help and usually by the time anyone else sees a problem, it is so far along that the recovery process will be less than fun and games.
For me, it took leaving home, moving to a big, new city, embarking on an intense college course and my life falling down around me before I was willing to admit that this was no way to live. I struggled and I fought and I was determined to just “get over it” but it takes more than that. It wasn’t until I came home that I realised what my life had become.
Perhaps the reason why the severely underweight anorexic is the poster child for eating disorders is because we are such a visual generation and it is the easiest to see. Admittedly, the concepts of malnutrition and organ failure hit home a lot harder than the other dangers. But dangers they are nonetheless. Catching an ED in the early stages may be the key to preventing osteoporosis, infertility and altered metabolism. Even the day to day effects such as hypersensitivity to temperature and inefficient digestion can make normal activities a pain in the ass.
And of course, there is the fact that we can’t ignore: that ED sufferers have an increased risk of depression and suicidal behaviour. The day I had a pocket full of pills, a call to the Samaritans and worried sick parents that they may have come home to one less daughter was the day that made recovery real for me. This was not something I could shake off or work through alone.
I needed to bring in the professionals.
To be Continued….