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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Tom Fealy

Tom is a freel­ance film­maker and works in TV pro­duc­tion. He is also a plac­ti­cine cat. Tom is inter­ested in social and polit­ic­al issues and and plans to use his know­ledge of film pro­duc­tion to explore them to make changes for the bet­ter. As well as telling the story of that little known plac­ti­cine cat. Get in touch @raggamuffinfilms on Twit­ter to collaborate

About Tom Fealy

Tom is a freelance filmmaker and works in TV production. He is also a placticine cat. Tom is interested in social and political issues and and plans to use his knowledge of film production to explore them to make changes for the better. As well as telling the story of that little known placticine cat. Get in touch @raggamuffinfilms on Twitter to collaborate