Eating Disorders: It's Never Too Early to Seek Help
I was sitting at my computer working, trying to get more done than possible in a short amount of time. My kids had just left for school, my youngest for preschool, and I had exactly two hours of silence to cram as much writing in as possible before I needed to be out the door to pick him up.
As I scanned my email, trying to take care of the important ones and put off the others before turning to the blank page in front of me. Just as I had started to get into the writing groove, where words were coming freely and the page was being filled, my phone rang. Sighing, I noticed it was my mom calling, as she often did, and hopped this would be a short call about some random family get together.
The phone call started with my mom confessing she didn't really have a reason for calling, at least not one she wanted to divulge right away, and when I started to try to get her off the phone, she said she was considering an outpatient program for my sister after talking with her pediatrician. Our pediatrician is a delight of a man, one I'd seen for years, who had helped me through high school and then become my own children's pediatrician. In fact, I drive halfway across the city to ensure he is the one treating my kids and giving advice on their health and well being.
At the news, I sighed. I didn't want to hear it. In fact, it made me want to hang up on my mom and pretend it never happened, yet I couldn't deny that it was probably a good idea given the situation and my sister's rapidly declining weight as of late.
At Thanksgiving I had looked at my sister's new frame, kind of lanky and much thinner than just a few months prior. She had been rather depressed lately, something I knew and that was being treated with a cocktail of therapy and meds. She still looked healthy though, rather than gaunt, and I watched her eat a decent meal with the family. Despite her outwardly healthy appearance, however, I couldn't help but think of how quickly that can change.
The time it takes for a simple bit of lost weight to become a full blown eating disorder nightmare isn't long. Where my sister had been eating a decent meal at least once a day, she quickly started spending more time in bed or avoiding meals altogether, a habit that can signal deeper problems.
If you know someone who is starting to show disordered eating habits, being overly picky about their food choices, often choosing to just "skip this one meal" because the choices weren't right or they weren't "feeling well," I'd urge you to consider looking into day treatment programs in your area. Even if you're just ruling out eating disorders from other emotional problems, be aware of the cues and seek help early.
Common eating disorder warning signs courtesy of HelpGuide.org:
- Preoccupation with body or weight
- Obsession with calories, food, or nutrition
- Constant dieting, even when thin
- Rapid, unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Taking laxatives or diet pills
- Compulsive exercising
- Making excuses to get out of eating
- Avoiding social situations that involve food
- Going to the bathroom right after meals
- Eating alone, at night, or in secret
- Hoarding high-calorie food