Tuesday, February 27, 2018

#EDAW2018 Why I waited...

Why wait? That's the theme of this year's Eating Disorders Awareness Week. New research by Beat found that on average, people with eating disorder symptoms wait 149 weeks before they seek help. That’s almost three years, 37 months or 1,043 days. Well,

I am not sure if this is acute symptoms, you know, the weight loss, restrictive diet, loss of periods..etc...or the wait between first feeling like absolutely shit about yourself, not good enough, hating your body, cutting out bits of food and exercising a little out of guilt? Because if it is the latter things, I reckon my wait was about 1015 weeks, or 7109 days - that's 19 years, 5 months, 17 days.
So why did I wait THAT long? Okay for the first 8 or so years, I admit, I was getting help. But for anxiety and phobias, all to do with food, but never for anorexia. So, obviously, I didn't have an eating disorder*  (*allegedly!) 

Later on, and definitely from about 2009, like it or not, I honestly believed anorexia served me, that it made sense, that it was helping me deal with life around me. It was making me feel pretty damn good at the time. I waited because, firstly, I didn't think I had an eating disorder and then because of that feel-good feeling it was giving me. I was high on it I waited because I didn't want someone to take that feeling away. Why would I?

Of course, everyone who suffers with an eating disorder will have a different experience and varying reasons why an eating disorder developed in the first place and a whole host of different barriers for waiting to speak up. Some from inside, others because of the world around us.

For me, maybe it's also because no one else ever really mentioned a specific eating disorder as something I was suffering from. After all,  62% of adults are twice as likely to list weight loss or being thin as a sign of an eating disorder over any other. so if I wasn't underweight, who was going to mention anorexia, of all things?

I felt like a fraud for even being signed off work for stress and anxiety, let alone because I was suffering with some sort of 'eating disorder'. So, I wasn't going to be the one who brought up my low calorie intake, my now obsessive exercise regime or the hours I spent on Pro-Anorexia forums, or the nights I spent body checking and weighing myself. I waited because I was doing 'just fine' in my eyes. 

The way that an eating disorder feels likes it serves a purpose to the sufferer means it's unlikely to be us that speaks up first. The fake sense of friendship and security my 'lifestyle' gave me was the reason I waited. Honestly, I didn't want it taking away. So, I didn't believe it was anorexia back then, even though I knew the symptoms, and was logging on to forums where 'ana' and 'mia' were spoken about.

To stop this delay between first psychological, and sometimes physical symptoms, of an eating disorder and someone getting help, it has to be then, down to more awareness. More people need to know the signs and how to talk to the person showing them.

I reckon I would have kept waiting to speak up if it wasn't for a close friend calling me out. Saying the word 'anorexia' for the first time. Then, family helped stop the plates spinning and I move home. At this point, whether I believed it was anorexia or not, I was finally sick of waiting. Sort of. Because once I'd decided this, I had the wait for assessment, the wait for diagnosis, then for the effects of treatment to kick in and the wait for acceptance that I actually had anorexia.

A lot of waiting, right?

Moral of the story is simply that waiting until crisis or just waiting longer than we should reduces the chance of beating an eating disorder. It is waiting that benefits no one but the eating disorder.

For me personally, I am thankful I had people around me that DID know the signs and symptoms and spoke to me because at that time I would have waited so long, that I would possibly been dead. Looking back I wish that I had spoken up sooner about what was going on, wish that I hadn't waiting to break up with 'ana' and get help....don't let you or someone you know make the same mistake as me. 

#WhyWait #EDAW2018 

- How to tell if someone has an Eating Disorder CLICK HERE

- Get help: Beat Adult Helpline: 0808 801 0677 Beat Youthline: 0808 801 0711

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