Friday, 30 October 2009

What I Dont Know About Anorexia

I want to try to finish what I began in the post My Sister - Anorexia Here, I established that having shared living space with anorexia, there really is very little that I don't know about it.

Seeming to be either too clinical or too compassionate, I have rarely read anything about Anorexia. In the very early stages of my sister's illness, I may have read leaflets of the kind you find in doctors' waiting rooms, but these were as far as my research went.
At 14 and with a family desperately in denial about what was happening, knowledge was not welcomed.
In fact, the only thing welcomed was a refusal to believe that this "finicky eating" was anything more than just "a phase".
I never believed it no matter how many times I was slapped or shouted down, and by the time they came round to it, it was far too late.
In my sister's case, I don't honestly believe that there was a point when it wasn't too late. But that's another post.

I digress.

Ignoring the title of this post (focus girl - focus), I DO know that the stats for anorexia make pretty grim reading.
Up to 20% of anorexics will die of complications caused by their illness. That gives the illness one of the highest mortality rates of any psychiatric illness.
Although the figures vary depending on who is publishing them, it is estimated that only about 60% of anorexics will make a "full recovery" (I'm skeptical). Of the remaining 40%, half of those will make a partial recovery although they will struggle with eating for the rest of their lives, and the remaining 20% will be unable to shake the illness and will remain seriously underweight and in and out of hospitals and clinics for as long as their bodies allow.

You can guess which percentile my sister falls into.

I also know that although again, the figure varies, it is often estimated that roughly 10% of all anorexics are male.
I would suggest that society will see this a sharp rise in the incidence of males with eating disorders. I have been watching the 'emo' culture closely and observe a worrying trend towards a blurring... a diluting, of sexuality.
(Again, another post).

So... I digress again... Perhaps to avoid...

Referring once more to the title of this post... What I DON'T know, is how, after living in the grotesquely monster like shadow of this illness for so many years, and after having been forced to witness the gaunt fear on the faces of my loved ones... (and for all the words in the English language, I will never be able to describe the agony that has etched itself on my family as they have watched so helplessly) HOW it is that I too, seem to have made this illness my ally.
It feels harsh to say that I have chosen it when I can't begin to work out how it is that this has come about; but my own locus of control won't allow me to say that I have merely "fallen prey" to it.

This is a long one and I still haven't got close to what I want to say.


  1. Hi-

    I am unsettled by the depth and profound sadness of this writing - as I experience your struggle and agony - I can only sy that it is so that people are drawn in to waht they know - are familiara with - regardless of the details. May I suggest that you continue to come to know compassion and love and hope so these, will, in time, become what you are familiar with more so than the details of what was before. And I know what I say is not simple by any means - and for that I am also very sorry and sad.

    Love to you

  2. I can't imagine watching someone wither away; confused, afraid, terrified - I was your sister. I was dying. I refused to let myself eat. I believed I didn't deserve to live. It's been a long haul to heal - I have learned - eating disorders are really a family problem - and for me - I learned to challenge the voices in my head....the voices that kept me in a cycle of slowly killing myself. Stay strong. I'm glad you're having your voice. Sarah

  3. Gail - I don't know what to say really. Thank you for your words.
    I can't allow much of the things you suggest... Doing so feels like they will break me right now.
    I'm guessing I'll be ok and it will somehow fade and be less. At the moment, I'm not in a good place so... Yeah.
    Thanks. x

    Sarah - Yes. It certainly has been a family thing in my sister's case.
    I'm thinking that some of this stuff must be quite painful for you to read as I know you've said before how much it resonates... Just wanted you to know that, much as I appreciate your encouragement and constant support, I would never want you to do that if it was painful for you... It's ok not to read and comment...
    I'm so glad that you learned to challenge the voices. It breaks my heart to think that you were once my sister but at the same time, I'm so so so so thankful that you found your way towards life.
    Thank you. x