There’s a new part to the current story over on my fiction blog here and the contents page linking to all the parts is here. Since I’m going to be talking a little bit about eating disorders I shall absolutely understand if you’d rather go read that instead.
I’ve been thinking about this for ages and it’s still all rather muddled so please excuse me if it all comes out in the wrong order.
The first thing to say is that you can’t tell if someone has an Eating Disorder just by looking at them. Well you can’t. I can make an educated guess if I see them eating or interacting with food but I still won’t know. It’s possible to be very slender and be perfectly healthy. It’s possible to be dangerously thin because of a physical disorder. It’s possible to get pretty fat without an Eating Disorder and both depression and physical illness can cause rapid weight gain.
The second thing to say is that even if you know that someone has an Eating Disorder because they, or a medical professional, has told you that they do you still can’t tell which one based on body type alone. It’s easy to assume that a skinny person with an Eating Disorder must be Anorexic and a fat person must have Binge Eating Disorder and anyone in the middle must be bulimic. No.
Some of the thinnest, and sickest people I’ve met with Eating Disorders were Bulimic. I’ve also known some overweight Bulimics. I used to know a recovering Anorexic and a recovering Compulsive Eater who could have passed for twins in spite of not being related at all. Both of them were in the healthy range of BMI (Body Mass Index).
The third thing I need to say is that Eating Disorders are mental illnesses with physical symptoms. The problem is in the mind. Not the body. If the mental problem isn’t fixed then no amount of eating the right stuff will work in the long term. A person with Binge Eating Disorder can’t just stop over-eating any more than a person with Depression can just cheer the fuck up. A person with Anorexia can’t just eat a fucking burger any more than a person with Schizophrenia can just stop hearing voices.
You also need to know that Eating Disorders are tricky things. A person might start of with one and have it mutate into any of the others. Practically anything you say about Eating Disorders will have exceptions. Trying to pin down anything about Eating Disorders is like trying to nail custard to the side of a moving van.
That’s it for now. I’m going to go into a lot more detail in the future.