Through a lack of intervention, I have moved from one eating disorder to another over the last 11 years. This is why it is imperative to seek help for yourself, or for someone you care about, because it isn't going to end on its own.
There are many obvious signs of eating disorders, but I am more aware because I was/am the one suffering from the ED. The question is: are family and friends really aware what these signs are, and what they mean?
My story began at 16 years old. It was like a light switch had been flicked overnight. I fell hard. I spent my summer holiday with 'full-time' anorexia, I locked myself away from the world and slept through the hunger pains. At the beginning, I guess, my mother thought I was a typical teenager.
To keep up with the pretence, especially in front of my friends, I used to eat school lunch, hating every moment of it and ready to hit the treadmill as soon as I got home. I started ordering laxatives and diet pills online and this is when my close family members knew something was up, but I managed to talk them into secrecy. My friends had also realised what was up, but no one really took a proactive step towards helping me, and of course I didn't think that I had a problem. There was still a huge stigma back then towards any mental health problem.
For me, my ED has gone hand-in-hand with self-harming. Most of us have 'the dreaded body part' that we are fixated on and feel like the world would be a better place if that part were to change. I was in noticeable pain for days on my thighs, the part I hated the most.
Circumstances have changed for me, and more recently I have developed binge eating disorder and bulimia, triggered by my emotions. I stick to a very strict and limited diet throughout the day, then all of a sudden, I'm eating foods that are outside my normal range in enormous quantities and then the guilt appears. Purging usually happens at a certain time, like a ritual. The physical repercussions of bulimia start to show with time: 'bulimia teeth', brittle hair falling out, a very coarse voice and anaemia.
Everyone that I'm close to knows about my past, and continuous, struggles with eating disorders. I'm happy to talk freely about it, because in my heart I know I want to fully recover. It took me a lot of courage to go to my GP, and the support from my family, friends and various support groups definitely encouraged and gave me the strength I needed to take the first step. Disappointingly, my GP didn't take me seriously and I am now undergoing private help, along with support from Beat.
For yourself, family, friends, and most importantly for your future self, please seek help. Even if your doctor turned you away, go back, and back again. Scream at the top of your lungs if you must!! Don't leave it too late like I did. Choose recovery. #whywait
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