In South Africa this year, .9% of women will struggle with anorexia, 1.5% of women will struggle with bulimia and 3.5% of women will struggle with binge eating. Just a statistic, right, but perhaps it’s your friend or cousin or sister battling this possibly fatal mental disease. Or just maybe, it’s you. Today, as we continue this series in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, a brave individual shares her reality living with ED:
I really don’t know how to start this off – and if it weren’t for the Princess Warrior I probably wouldn’t have the courage to share this.
I suffer from bulimia nervosa. When I say suffer I really mean it. It’s not a choice, as many people may think. It’s your mind telling you things that aren’t necessarily true. You could be a size 28 and still feel exorbitantly fat. You feel disgusted in yourself. You want to change yourself and you look for fast methods – regardless of the health risks.
Binging and purging are two things that make up bulimia. This means that I starve myself for long periods of time, I binge eat, then I forcefully regurgitate. It’s not a pretty sight at all. Starvation is done to keep me from gaining weight. Usually this leads to binge eating out of excessive hunger and the guilt that follows causes purging. Purging can be done through regurgitation or the usage of diuretics and substances that cause bowel movements to defecate more often.
I know that sounds completely insane but it’s true. I followed many thinspo (images with suffers of anorexia nervosa used as inspiration for your body goals) accounts on social media and even a few proana (pro anorexia accounts) blogs. And yes these things do exist. There are multiple Instagram, Twitter and even Facebook pages that promote unhealthy living through anorexia or bulimia.
This is not healthy at all. These accounts are preying on innocent people who are already fighting their own mind. I know we shouldn’t look at those accounts, but we need someone to relate to us and when you’re down and out this seems like the easiest way to not feel alone.
I’m here to break that stigma. I want to let you all know that you are not alone. There are many sufferers of ED so you need to speak up to someone you trust. You need to get help before it’s too late. Yes, you can die from an eating disorder such as bulimia or anorexia. Ruptured oesophagus, cardiac arrest, starvation or electrolyte imbalances.
There are multiple signs to pick up if someone suffers from anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. These are as follows:
- Constant or repetitive dieting (counting calories/kilojoules, skipping meals, fasting, avoidance of certain food groups or types such as meat or dairy, replacing meals with fluids.
- Evidence of binge eating (disappearance of large amounts of food from the cupboard or fridge, lolly wrappers appearing in bin, hoarding of food in preparation for bingeing)
- Evidence of vomiting or laxative abuse (frequent trips to the bathroom during or shortly after meals)
- Excessive or compulsive exercise patterns ( exercising even when injured, or in bad weather, refusal to interrupt exercise for any reason; insistence on performing a certain number of repetitions of exercises, exhibiting distress if unable to exercise)
- Making lists of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods
- Changes in food preferences (refusing to eat certain foods, claiming to dislike foods previously enjoyed, sudden interest in ‘healthy eating’)
- Development of patterns or obsessive rituals around food preparation and eating (insisting meals must always be at a certain time; only using a certain knife; only drinking out of a certain cup)
- Avoidance of all social situations involving food
- Frequent avoidance of eating meals by giving excuses (claiming they have already eaten or have an intolerance/allergy to particular foods)
- Behaviors focused around food preparation and planning (shopping for food, planning, preparing and cooking meals for others but not consuming meals themselves; taking control of the family meals; reading cookbooks, recipes, nutritional guides)
- Strong focus on body shape and weight (interest in weight-loss websites, dieting tips in books and magazines, images of thin people)
- Development of repetitive or obsessive body checking behaviors (pinching waist or wrists, repeated weighing of self, excessive time spent looking in mirrors)
- Social withdrawal or isolation from friends, including avoidance of previously enjoyed activities
- Change in clothing style, such as wearing baggy clothes
- Deceptive behavior around food, such as secretly throwing food out, eating in secret (often only noticed due to many wrappers or food containers found in the bin) or lying about amount or type of food consumed
- Eating very slowly (eating with teaspoons, cutting food into small pieces and eating one at a time, rearranging food on plate)
- Continual denial of hunger
These symptoms are extremely important in these cases of anorexia and bulimia. The people suffering from this NEED immediate medical help. Remember that this affects both males and females.
While I’m on the topic of eating disorders I want to touch on something that many people have not heard of – Bigorexia.
People with bigorexia spend excessive amounts of time working out in the gym, dieting, checking themselves in a mirror, comparing themselves to others and seeking reassurance from others about their appearance. Many of them also abuse anabolic steroids in an effort to build muscle mass. Bigorexia is often referred to as reverse anorexia or body dysmorphic disorder. This is a serious health issue. Just as important as anorexia or bulimia.
There are multiple signs to look out for to determine is someone may suffer from Bigorexia
- Constantly worry about muscle size
- Spend excessive amounts of time working out that interferes with social life or performance at school and work
- Constantly scrutinizing muscles in the mirror
- Weighing several times a day
- Take great care to avoid looking at self in mirror
- Constantly measuring muscle size
- Wear baggy clothing in public to keep others from seeing their body
- Feel great anxiety and distress when they miss a work out or deviate slightly from their strict diet
- Abuse anabolic steroids or take supplements to gain muscle mass and reduce body fat
This excerpt was found at healthyplace.com to read more about Bigorexia here’s the link.
ocd-related-disorders/body- dysmorphic-disorder/what-is- muscle-dysmorphia-bigorexia- reverse-anorexia/
This post was to create awareness on eating disorders in today’s world. I am no health professional – I am just someone who’s been there, got the T-shirt and is still wearing it. You need to contact a professional if you relate to any of the symptoms listed above. If you know someone who you suspect may suffer from an ED please talk to them and let them know that they are not alone.
Visit http://www.recoveryspace.org/ to get a better understanding of what is happening or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Always remember YOU are worth it.