The consequences of eating disorders remain after recovery
Survivors of eating disorders often say they will live with the disease forever. This is partially meant metaphorically; they will always struggle with the urges and body issues which initially fed the development of their eating disorder.
But, this is also often very literal. Many who survived eating disorders and achieved recovery still live with the long-lasting consequences of malnourishment and other health issues.
Eating disorders like anorexia and anxiety affect much more than the waistband. They also have the highest mortality rate of any mental health condition, with up to one-fifth of all those affected dying prematurely. To make matters worse, eating disorders are often accompanied by depression, anxiety, and heightened suicide risk.
Perhaps the worst thing about eating disorders is that people tend to assume everything will completely return to normal once they have recovered. We tend to forget that long-term poor nutrition, self-harm, and psychological distress leave lasting scars that still significantly affect a person’s life.
Metro writer and eating disorder survivor Frances Coleman-Williams brought this into glaring clarity today by sharing her own long-lasting health issues she lives with, ranging from the mildly painful to life-altering. She also shows why it is so essential that eating disorders are identified early before the most severe health issues have time to develop.
Some of the health issues Coleman-Williams faces may be expected from malnutrition, such as gastrointestinal issues and a hernia. But, there are also problems in areas you may not expect. For example, she experiences regular pain throughout her neck, shoulders, arms, and back from osteophytes (bone spurs) caused by low bone density.
Even worse are the lasting effects that cause little physical pain, but have completely changed the course of Coleman-Williams’ life. As she explains, “Unfortunately, as a consequence of chronic malnourishment (having suffered to varying degrees for over 15 years) I may be infertile.”
In addition to the myriad of health issues caused directly by an eating disorder, she also lives with the effects of psychological distress and suicide attempts. “One suicide attempt led to a fractured vertebra and I have three vertebrae pinned together,” she says. “This has put pressure on the rest of my spine to compensate, which causes inflammation and pain.”
These may seem like awful things to live with, but Coleman-Williams says they are worth it to live happy and free of anorexia.
“It may sound like recovery isn’t worth it but living with anorexia is so much more painful than living with its consequences. Anorexia is not glamorous, people die from it and live with the condition chronically and those that do recover have to live with the consequences.”
If you think you or someone you know may be living with binge eating disorder, give us a call at (888) 298-4673. We can answer any questions you have and find the right treatment plan for you.