Don’t let an eating disorder take over your life

By January 6, 2011

Carina Williams

Carina Williams

By Carina Williams

By now, all of you may have had that feeling … “Oh, I’m not good enough; why aren’t I like everyone else?” Well imagine having those feeling welling up inside of you of every second of everyday of your life — unable to stop these thoughts flooding through your mind. Now imagine multiplying that feeling by one hundred, knowing even in your dreams you will still be tortured by these thoughts. That’s just the beginning of how it feels to be cursed with an eating disorder.

Even at this school, Oak Ridge High, you would be surprised to find out the numbers of both boys and girls who have an eating disorder. At least 50,000 individuals will die as a direct result of their eating disorder. Up to 10 million females and 1 million males struggle with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Binge eating disorder is experienced by millions more. But eating disorders are more than just the actions taken to lose weight unhealthily. When you have an eating disorder you are always accompanied with the self defeating thoughts egging on the behaviors. When you have an eating disorder you may also find yourself in a very depressed state that is so bad it may even result in self mutilation or suicidal tendencies. Some other side effects of long term eating disorders are panic and anxiety attacks. Once diagnosed with an eating disorder, many patients must be prescribed antidepressants and other types of medication such as Xanax to help with these sudden and frightening attacks.

Eating disorders may be quite obvious to some people, but masked to others. You don’t have to be stick thin to have an eating disorder. In fact, many people suffering from bulimia are at the perfect body weight or even overweight possibly. Instead of looking at appearance if you suspect someone to have an eating disorder, look at the actions they take. Do they only eat certain types of food? Do they use the bathroom immediately after eating? Do they make excuses not to eat at meal times? These are all signs that point out loud and clear that the suspected person has a very good chance of having an eating disorder.

Some people with eating disorders become uninterested in their once favorite activities and unmotivated to do anything at all. They also develop a loss of interest in friends and family, as well as school. The once friendly and cheerful friend you knew has turned into a whole different person. This person may result to drugs and alcohol in order to cope with these immense feelings of depression, unable to accept themselves because of an imaginary voice in their head telling them they need to lose more weight. Once you lose the weight you’re still not good enough, and never will be. No matter how much weight you lose it will never be enough. It truly is a vicious cycle.

There have been many studies done to examine the adverse affects of rapid weight loss. In the book “The Biology Of Human Starvation” by Ancel Keys it explains the physical and mental reactions of 32 men who took part in the Minnesota experiment in starvation of 1944-45. The study lasted one year: three months of initial control period, six months of semi-starvation, and three months of re-feeding. The average of the men lost 24 percent of their body weight on a diet consisting of 1,570 calories a day (less than half their usual intake). As semi starvation progressed, many physical and psychological changes occurred.

Physical changes:

  • Weight decreased an average of 24 percent
  • Skeletal muscle size decreased
  • Heart size decreased an average of 20 percent
  • Pulse slowed by 33 percent
  • Body temperature decreased
  • The men felt cold frequently
  • Hair became thin and fell out
  • Men appeared older

Psychological changes:

  • Lack of interest
  • Depression
  • Tiredness
  • A small number became psychotic
  • Became sensitive to noise

Social changes:

  • Reluctant to make group decisions, or plan activities
  • Didn’t want to participate in group activities
  • Food was the central topic of conversation
  • Hard time controlling their emotions
  • Became self serving and wrapped up in their own concerns

These side effects are very serious and turn you into a completely different person.

Though anorexia is very dangerous and deadly, bulimia is equally harmful, even though that person may be at the proper weight. One of the reasons why bulimia is so dangerous is because when you vomit you are emptied of the electrolytes you get throughout the day from normal meals. Without electrolytes, your heart becomes weaker and your pulse slows to use as little energy as possible. This is extremely dangerous and the cause of most deaths of those who have bulimia. Think about this: if you go two or three days without water you feel faint dizzy and have horrible headaches; you basically can’t function. This is similar if you don’t consume and keep in the essential vitamins and minerals vital to your health. Also, the acids in your stomach corrode your teeth overtime when you purge on a regular basis. When you go to the dentist it is very obvious to see if a person has an eating disorder.

Anorexia on the other hand is a disorder where the person with the eating disorder refuses to eat a normal amount of food in order to lose weight. This is also called restricting. Often times those who have suffered through this disorder literally can’t eat. What I mean by this is they are too scared to eat. Too scared to gain even a quarter of a pound. Too scared they will lose control and over eat. And most of all, too scared they will be judged by how much they eat. You can look on the Internet to find out about this disorder, you can read about it in magazines and newspaper articles, but can you get first hand information? What thoughts are going through their mind? This is a letter saying “good-bye” to E.D. (eating disorder) written by a teenager who made a successful recovery.

Dear E.D.,

We’ve gone through so much together; you know me oh so well, and I know you too. I know you enough to know all you care about is yourself. Recruiting new boys and girls, luring them into an endless hell with the impossible to hope for. At first you were my beloved friend, turning to you for advice only. But as our friendship progressed that advice turned into requests, then from requests to laws which I must always abide by. Turning me into your personal puppet, not able to make my own decisions. I was stuck. Stuck without hope, stuck with no light in a bottomless hole and stuck with you …. However, after being kept in the dark for four going on five years, away from the rest of the world I looked closer and found a small beam of light sparkling in. This light was love. Love from my family, love from my friends and love from deep inside my heart. These people saw my life slipping away and urged me to seek help. Though reluctantly done, I was up at my first attempt to recovery. Not long after, I thought you had changed, but no… the drive for perfection peaked again, and there I was back at your side. After repeating the same pattern a few more times, I realized I had to make a change in my recovery plan. At this point in time, you were stronger than me, and I needed to bring in extra troops into this battle I was certain of winning. Finally with a lot of hard work I accomplished my goal. You were no longer in my heart; you are now just a memory. So e.d these are my parting words: you have nothing to hold over my head any longer, so instead of asking you to leave I’ll be the bigger person and walk away.

No one should have to go through all this pain and suffering, whether its media influences, family issues or self conscious thoughts; there are ways to cope with these problems without turning to the aid of an eating disorder. If you suspect a friend or loved one to have an eating disorder don’t just sit around and wait for it to get worse — be proactive. You can save a life, reach out and help.

Special to Village Life


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