Eating Disorder Honesty
As I sit down to write my very first blog post, I struggle with what needs to be written, and even more importantly, what needs to be heard. It seems like it would be imperative to discuss each eating disorder in its totality and then provide exhaustive lists of their individual symptoms so you, the reader, know what to “look” for. As I continue to allow my brain to explore the endless possibilities of what this post can contain, I realize that the eating disorders themselves, and their symptoms, are the pieces of information that are easy to find and what most people could recite (even if only a few symptoms) if asked at random. So I decided to go another route; here’s what you may not know, but “should” know.
- Up to 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U.S
- Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
- The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old.
- About 50% of all people in the United States either know someone with an eating disorder or have been personally affected by one.
- Only 1 in 10 people with an eating disorder ever receive help, even though treatment dramatically improves chances for a full recovery.
- Without treatment, it’s suspected that as many as 20% individuals will die as a result of their illness.
- At least one person dies every 62 minutes as a direct result from an eating disorder. (The Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy & Action thanks Scott J. Crow and Sonja Swanson, PhD)
Eating disorders have the HIGHEST mortality rate of any other mental illness. There are MORE than 200 classified forms of mental illness and eating disorders comprise the #1 spot for mortality rate. About 50% of the United States population has been touched in some way by an eating disorder, which means that you are either a sufferer or you most likely know someone that is or has suffered. With this comes great power. Great power to reach out and grasp the hand held out for support or having the privilege of being the person reaching out their hand to support another. Eating disorders touch far more than the individual. We are all in this together.
The Good News:
Treatment dramatically improves the chances for a FULL recovery, which means the 1 person out of 10 that reaches out for support most likely has a very good outcome. Twenty percent of individuals struggling with an eating disorder may die, but this statistic can be drastically improved if treatment percentages increase. The missing link between life and death is treatment. Reaching out is the hardest part and probably the most difficult thing you will ever do in your lifetime. I cannot imagine how difficult it is to walk through those doors (any treatment doors), but more specifically, to stay in those doors, and how much courage you must harness to do so. I am not sure I could ever be that brave. This is not a statement of hypocrisy; it IS a statement of deep and genuine respect.
During the time it took to write this, at least one person lost their battle…one real life, breathing human being that was very much alive 62 minutes ago now no longer physically graces this earth. Somebody’s mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter has left this earth way too soon and has left a trail of grieving loved ones as they fight to understand and make sense of what has just occurred. This fight does not end here. We fight for these people. In their honor, we try harder, we fight harder, and we learn harder. We do everything we can in our power to DO harder.
Full recovery is possible; people can and do recover. I have seen it time and time again. As we honor the life lost in the last 62 minutes, we must also reflect on the lives saved and the lives that will be saved by courageous requests for support. Be that missing link, in whatever capacity that means for you, be it.