Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day, and it has me thinking about the people who have been driven to suicide by the monsters of anorexia and bulimia. How many of the 3000 suicides per day are committed by those who see no other alternative to life with an eating disorder? How many take their own life because they know no other way to end the relentless torture of anorexia and bulimia? How many of them had access to treatment? And of those who hadn’t, how many would have made a different choice if they had?
The way that eating disorders can – and so often do – lead individuals to such terrible measures is absolutely horrifying. But anyone who’s met the merciless anorexic or bulimic demon that so insidiously seduces and consumes the mind knows the parallel agonies it demands: starving life away, binging into comatose oblivion, purging until the whole world seems inside-out… One can easily imagine how a quick and easy end would seem preferable. The time comes where it’s impossible to stop restricting, binging and purging, and all that’s left is to die or await a miracle.
In many circles, this is called “the jumping off place”, because at that point, people either jump off a building… or into recovery. With nothing left to lose, those that choose the latter often find themselves much more open to whatever lengths it takes to get well. Those that choose the former… we can only mourn the tragedy and their worlds laid waste. Often I wonder what determines the outcome in that critical moment, what makes the difference, what saves the survivors and escapes the dead. The answer is impossible to know.
What I do know is that there is a solution. Recovery from anorexia and bulimia is possible, and suicide isn’t the only way out. And the more of us that make it, the more hope there is to offer those who still suffer. There have been many nights where I dreaded opening my eyes on another day with my captor, but thankfully never a day where I didn’t want to live. Now, I hope my life in recovery can somehow bear witness to those seeking even a glimpse of light. I hope one day the survivors outnumber the dead.