The first time I realised I had an eating disorder I was about 12, and read summat in a magazine, some piece of 'awareness' (which was no doubt horrifically uninformed- when is the media coverage of them ever not? Even after the usual step of getting a bland, obvious comment from b-eat, a charity I have little time for 'cause I reck it has so much wasted, untapped potential). I sat and cried, learning that I was disordered, not just the eccentric that even then I liked to think I was; the cynical, world weary, pre-teen I disassociated from the world and became in my personal observations; the vain, plagiarised feelings, that make me howl whenever I come across in some sort of written format; probably in the same way I'll look back on all of this, in 10 years. As eccentric as I liked to escape away to believing I was, I wasn't really mature enough to be different on that level, to be ill rather than fancy myself as secretly special. I've always been vain when it comes to the written word. You know how some people have hundreds of self taken photos of themselves on their Facebook? I find myself wishing that I was born a century previous, to upper-class Americans, so that F. Scott Fitzgerald might have written about me, immortalised me in his beautiful prose.
I didn't just discover that day that I was ill, I discovered that I had been for years. I don't think that tends to happen to people who get ill when they're older and they've grown up already in a world where eating disorders exist, rather than the sudden discovery I had of the realities, I think then recognition of the illness occurs sooner. And, of course, too many people work towards acquisition of an eating disorder, whether they then lose control of the beast and find themselves later trying to claw back the life they worked towards starving away, or whether they eventually grow up and give it up. That world is bizarre to me. So maybe that titbit about my discovery is a touch irrelevant to this, but it's my party and I'll anecdote the shit out of it, if I want ;).
After my discovery though, it was all very standard. I cried for a night, then spent a month or so muttering to myself, trying on all the words for the disorder on for size, then I carried on, regardless. There were years more where the disorder was mine and mine alone, hoarded and hidden away, protected from everybody, bar the people I met online in my early teens. At times it was obvious but summat locked in innuendo, snide comments from people, but no actual acknowledgement of my suffering, as my weight dropped through Anorexia. At other times it was presumed to have been a phase I was over, as my weight rose and then leveled off, through Bulimia. But until I was about 17 or 18, I was locked firmly in the medicine cabinet. Then I came out and shit hit the fan; hospitalisations, intensive therapies, more hospitalisations and on and on, as you'll know, if you've followed my journey.
The thing is though, shit didn't hit the fan BECAUSE I came out. Shit hit the fan because I was very ill and very, very ready to change that. That's what people need to know. Reaching out for help will not get you put on a hospital ward, or with your will taken away from you. If you want help, help is there to be accessed. If you don't, you won't be forced, but you can take responsibility for your physical health, at least. Even if you don't want to get better, reaching out for help managing the physical health costs- that's a pretty good step to take and again, won't get you locked up or forced into therapy or owt. Help is there for those who are ready for it, but nothing's forced. Unless your BMI falls below about 13, you can be confident that you won't be forced into anything. I mean, for one thing, the NHS is too pressed and tightly belted to provide help for anybody who isn't 100% sure they want it. I think that's where the awareness needs to go and that's what would save lives, if people knew that they could have their physical health managed but wouldn't be forced into everything, I think it'd be easier for people to at least seek help from their GP or even practice nurse or whatever.
Even if you're still in love with the disorder, you have to know that your body will not be, and that YOU, the person behind the disorder, have a responsibility to ensure that your family, YOURS, not the disorder's, don't find you dead over your toilet. You may love your eating disorder, but if you love your family and if you truly want to prevent choices being taken away from you, you have to take responsibility enough to allow somebody else to help you manage your physical health. That'll probably mean blood tests and perhaps electrolyte drinks, which could well stop you having a heart attack, as well as saving you from a million other health problems. Seriously, just google 'electrolyte imbalance' and see what you're looking at.
The other thing is, even if you're under 18, in the UK your doctor will not, and cannot, tell your parents about your eating disorder. Obviously, talking to your family and friends is a big part of getting better, but it doesn't have to be the first step, or even the second or third. if you're not ready to look at the mental side of it, face the internal, physical side.
This hasn't really gone how I intended it to, when I sat down to write, hahahaha. So I'm going to stick 'part 1' in the title and then post again when I get my thoughts together, really about what coming out really means. Until then, GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOODNIGHT ;)