If like me, you’re lucky enough to possess a degree of insight which enables you to recognise the dangerous manifestation of an eating disorder and a need to reach out for some kind of help, then don’t leave it. Don’t hang about. Do something now and perhaps you stand half a chance.
If you the reader are a loved one who suspects a struggle, notices the physical ravages, tell tale behaviours or have any reason for concern whatsoever that someone close to you may have a dysfunctional relationship with food then by any means, intervene immediately. Confront. Pay closer attention. Keep tabs. Seek professional help behind the back of your loved one, because quite simply, the consequences can, may or will be devastating.
You may start by pragmatically and delicately questioning them. I hope and pray that this simplest and easiest of approaches opens the door to a positive outcome. If unsuccessful, take the first opportunity to relay what I’m about to tell you. A relatively comprehensive list of possible and likely outcomes drawn from first hand experience.
Tell them they’ll be chronically tired and constantly lethargic. Explain that their bowel function will steadily grind to a halt. While the genuine hunger pangs will pass after time, a gnawing and excruciating sense of emptiness will develop in the pit of the stomach. A daily sense of mania and delirium will take hold, leading possibly to forms of anxiety but certainly to a lonely and isolated desperation in a world ruled by the thoughts of food and the numbers on the side of packets; instead of the past times and friendships one once enjoyed. Depending on certain behaviours, the teeth will gradually wear down, shorten, fall out; rendered functionally useless and aesthetically repulsive in a mouth peppered by cavities, caries, abscesses, pus and excruciating toothache. False teeth by 30? If not entirely, at least in part. Long and arduous hours spent attending dental appointments for different forms of disinfection and reconstruction, if one is lucky enough to be referred for treatment on the NHS. Otherwise, get saving cos it’s gonna cost you.
Another side effect of the behaviour which caused such damage to the nashers, i.e. vomiting — possible heart arrhythmia or attack. Out of nowhere. Without warning. Certainly an intermittent pounding in the chest and quite unnerving palpations. All down to a lack of a vital little electrolyte mineral, potassium; constantly ejected from the body in the act of purging. Remedy beyond the point of a banana or two. Now a medical emergency requiring hospitalisation and treatment with intravenously. A course of treatment so painfully slow, any predisposition to restless impatience might have you making a break for freedom after too long. Or absconcion as its formally known. An action which risks placement under Section (s) of the mental health Act. Medically imprisoned by law. Eventually in a psychiatric unit for eating disorders, if and when ill enough. The professionals and staff have a duty of care to save your life. They know what they’re talking about. But you want out, you want control, freedom. You don’t want to be watched through slats in the bedroom door, day after mind numbing day. Asking for the little boys or girls room to be unlocked. Earning the privelage of a walk around hospital grounds.
But now you ain’t going no where without risking real arrest. And you know you’re not psychotic. You’re an extremely intelligent, self aware and competent individual. But try explaining that to the doctors.
Eventually, essentially and possibly you may die. Eating Disorders and especially Anorexia cause the highest rates of mortality of any mental illnesses. But if you escape tragedy, consider the time wasted. Time you can’t afford to waste in an already short life on this beautiful earth. The weeks, months and years of missed opportunities. Employment, ambitions, friendships, fun. A mind full of and consumed by regret, just to add insult to injury.
An inexhaustive list of bleak yet eternally possible consequences which I’m sure has been experienced countless times in all manner of variations by sufferers. Avoid these inevitabilities. Let this scare you or your loved one into action. Get or give help as soon as possible.
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