Good morning Sunday!
I hope you’re all well. Today I’d like to address a very important topic. I would like to tell you the brutal, honest truth about eating disorders. We have to talk about this, not only in private with our family and friends – we need to speak out loud. We need to raise awareness of eating disorders, because they are ranked highest in mortality amongst any mental disorders, but the symptoms are almost impossible to spot.
The most dangerous of all eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Anorexia is a disease, that as all eating disorders, inhabits your mind and locks your true self up in a cell buried somewhere deep inside, and makes sure you feel it’s impossible for you to get out. It takes control over your actions, decisions, thoughts,., basically it hijacks your body and does with it as it pleases; that is most commonly starvation, obsessive behavior regarding food, feeding rituals, counting calories, etc. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate at 5-10% patients die within 10 years, and 18-20% die in 20 years. The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher then the death rate of all causes of death for females 15-24 years old, but with the right treatment the numbers can be reduced down to a 2-3% mortality rate. You can read more statistics here, but let me go on with the practical consequences. Eating disorders aren’t at all about food. They are about control, and they do not only affect girls. Anyone, at any time, can develop an eating disorder. It is like cancer; it comes uninvited, and it comes with the intention of killing you. But the difference is that for cancer there are treatments, there is medicine. We can’t say the same about eating disorders. Eating disorders inhabit the mind, which you can treat with all kinds of pills – none of which really matter if the patient doesn’t want to get better. Only the person struggling with an eating disorder can beat it, nothing and no one can do it for them. And that is why eating disorders are so dangerous: they take away the power of making your own choices. So the only way to beat the disease is by being stronger than it. By being more stubborn, by making positive choices (changes) every day, step by step.
Suffering from an eating disorder, as much as it is a mental disease, it takes it’s toll over your body. Now let’s clear another thing up: YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE STICK THIN TO HAVE AN EATING DISORDER. Eating disorders come in all kinds of form, from compulsive overeating, binge eating disorder, to being obsessed with healthy food (orthorexia), vomiting after eating (bulimia), to reducing your calorie intake to almost zero (anorexia), and the in a lot of cases they come hand in hand – especially with patients suffering from eating disorders for many years. What makes these diseases so very dangerous is the fact, that most of them are impossible to notice until they’ve gone too far (find some symptoms here). I have struggled for 12 years now, and within that time I have only once been dangerously thin – but that doesn’t mean that was the worst period for me. On the contrary, at that time I felt good about myself, 39kg brought me happiness, satisfaction, and pride. I could not see how sick I was, and that I would die if I continued with my behavior.
I was losing my hair and teeth, my skin aged for 10 years instantly, I lacked vitamins and minerals in spite of taking supplements every day; my digestion system was demolished from the years of overeating, eating nothing, vomiting, etc., so none of the supplements really helped. Even when I wanted to start eating again I couldn’t. It took me a long time to gain a couple of kilos, eating yogurt with a teaspoon, two or three times a day. And that was the time I WANTED TO EAT. I felt sick all of the time because of the stomach acid, ulcers, and chronic gastric inflammation. After more than 10 years I finally reached my breaking point – the point where I had to decide wether I live or die. But I kept going. I decided to kick the eating disorder out of my body and mind, and I kept swinging at it with all I had.
Now, two years later, I weigh 48-49kg, and I have a normal life. I made it! I live in a house with my boyfriend, we adopted two stray kittens, I have a job, am attending school, I survived an eating disorder. I am here, and I am here to stay. I'm far from healthy, I still struggle every day, I cry enough to fill the amazon, but I keep going. And every day is better. I allow myself to have bad days, weeks even, sometimes. I am learning it's ok to be human, it's ok to make mistakes, and most important of all, it's ok not to be perfect.
So here is the truth about eating disorders: they aren't glamorous, pretty, they won't make you happy. They will destroy your life, and the lives of people that care for you – you will lie (to them and to yourself), and you will do unthinkable, terrible things. But what is important is, that you know that those things aren't you, it's the eating disorder. You are a good person, to whom something awful has happened. Do not give up. Not ever, because you can beat this. If you are struggling, or anyone you know is, or is developing signs of an eating disorder, I urge you to get help immediately. Not in a month, nor next week. Now.
If you have any questions, please leave them in my inbox. I will be more than happy to help you out as much as I can. Thank you for reading this, and it would make me so happy if you would share it with your friends. This is a very big issue in our world, let's deal with it together.
Have a beautiful Sunday, I will spend mine with my family, and then maybe go for a walk in the woods (all the autumn colors, I can't even!). Talk soon,