I promised that Tuesday would be the day of knowledge.
It had been such an exciting day appearing on local radio speaking about my illness, the anorexia that took hold with a malicious and violent grip.
The knowledge that I want to try and give though is not of clinical diagnosis but of the very raw reality of an illness that threatens so much of ones existence and that of every other sufferer together with their loved ones.
Firstly, and something that I try to remind myself of everyday is that Eating Disorders are not a choice.
Health is health.
That remains true for both physical and mental illness. One does not choose to become unwell, whether that be with a Flu or a mental illness.
It is so important for us to remember, that eating disorders are not a choice- I would not wish this illness on my worst enemy because the hell is both relenting and exhausting- it is not something that I would have chosen, and nor is it something that I choose to still struggle with.
A magic wand would be a beautiful thing but that’s the same for every acute illness.
It might not be a myth but is definitely something greatly underestimated and that is that ED is an illness that is all encompassing. There is not a part of ones life that it doesn’t wreck, tear apart and dissolve into insignificance.
Every relationship, including those with friends, family members and colleagues becomes of secondary importance to that of my illness. Anorexia had become my best friend and soon morphed into my only friend.
I couldn’t study, concentrate or focus when my mind was totally fixated on food.
Social life- no chance, work productivity, zero- enjoyment of life, desolate
I was a complete shell of a person, everything had crumbled.
I was once of those girls who thought anorexia could be “cured” by eating a sausage (I think that’s my buzz line!), I would naively think, just get a grip, just eat.
But this is so insulting a thought, given that eating disorders can and do kill.
Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness.
I have a vivid and hideous memory of being checked night after night by a Mum who desperately wanted her to child to survive and who used to check that I was breathing.
It’s a dark concept to grasp and one that sits so uncomfortably, especially given the blame I put onto myself, but as I have already stated, Eating Disorders are not a choice.
We have to think outside the box to protect those most vulnerable, because we can literally save lives.
Eating disorders, no in fact all mental illness…no actually illness FULLSTOP can and does hit everyone and anyone.
There is no discrimination based on age, sex, demographic or race.
With this in mind, we should not show prejudice towards any group in finding the courage to eek support. Eating Disorders are a spectrum. There is no difference between the young girl running for hours in a bid to burn off an apple to the guy who has spent the last three hours huffing and puffing lifting weights in a desperate bid to gain gain gain. The obsession has a grip and it doesn’t care who that grip is of.
With all of this in mind however, there is a really important point that I cling on to. Despite everything, despite every day continuing to struggle, I do genuinely believe that full recovery is absolutely possible. That there is freedom to be found, peace, solace and tranquility but there has to be commitment, dedication and the drive to want to recover.
Take it easy on yourself, on others and be mindful that “looking well” might break another.