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Musing: Eating Disorders

"People don't seem to get it... so I'll explain."
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No one seems to understand eating disorders. If I'm being honest, I still have a lot to learn about them too, but I know enough to tell you what for if you tell someone who has Anorexia "just eat" or someone with Binge Eating Disorder that it's "just willpower" and to "just tell yourself no" because it is not that fucking easy. Now you can joke and laugh all you like about how I'm "too serious" all the time or ask me if this is all about my one friend. Here are the facts. I'm "too serious" because this disease is "too" serious. I don't just care about my one friend, I care about every man, woman, young lady or young man who suffers and struggles with any of these disorders. It's getting so bad that ten year olds are struggling with this. Are you hearing this? Ten year olds. They are babies. Babies in a world that is many millions of years old. That is not okay. That is why I am "too" serious.

Let me give you some statistics in case you still don't get it.

• 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.

• The mortality rate associated with Anorexia Nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old.

• Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.

• An estimated 10-15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are male.

• Men are less likely to seek treatment for eating disorders because of the perception that they are “woman’s diseases.”

• 47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.12

• 69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape.

• 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.

• 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat.

The mortality rates definitely don't show how severe these disorders are, but here they are as well:

• 4% for Anorexia Nervosa

• 3.9% for Bulimia Nervosa

• 5.2% for EDNOS (or Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified)

Maybe you need to understand the disorders more. Do you know what Anorexia is? Do you really know or do you only know what you hear and see? Because that's not all that it is. There is so much more. Do you know what binging is? Do you know what fasting is? How about the damage starving does to both your mental health and your physical health which in turn effects your psychological health even more so? I could easily give you a textbook definition and call this musing done, but I don't do things the easy way, I do them the right way.

Anorexia Nervosa is a demon. It is not just your own voice in your head. It is a demon and it does not just whisper things. No, it forces you to hear it. Over and over and over and makes you believe it. It is a demon yelling at you that you are fat and you are ugly and you are stupid and you do not deserve this food you are shoving into your face. It is a virus, infecting you and increasing in potency as you decrease your nutrition intake. I'm reading a book titled Brave Girl Eating right now, and the author uses a quote in it that says it perfectly. "It wasn't simply that I chose not to eat; I was forbidden to. Even thinking about forbidden foods brought punishment. How dare you, this voice inside me would say. You greedy pig."

Bulimia Nervosa is also a demon. Not the same one, but perhaps blood related. Like a cousin or something. Bulimia still yells at you, but it keeps its mouth shut until you have already eaten and then it pipes up. It is this unbearable guilt, this upset in your stomach, this unbelievable pain causing you to stick your fingers down your throat or inhale multiple laxatives. It is an angry liar, telling you that you are selfish for taking this food, for allowing all of this filth to get to your stomach, to get into your veins, to make you fat. It is Anorexia's cousin.

EDNOS, to take the easy way, is a mix of the two. But it isn't. It is still its own demon. It whispers and it shouts. It wants you to starve one minute and barf the next. It just wants you to be thin. No, scratch that. It just wants you to die. It wants you to follow whatever path you need to follow to be perfect. To reach your goal weight. But what happens when you reach your goal weight? You change it. You lower it another twenty pounds or another couple stone. Just a little more. Just until you reach your goal weight. But what happens when you don't stop?

These things... these--these monsters? They aren't a joke. They aren't a punchline for you to laugh at and forget about. They are the mental disorder with the highest mortality rate. Starving yourself, however you do it, is bad for your brain and bad for your body. It leads to tooth and gum issues, bone problems, heart problems. It effects not just the year and a half to ten years that you spend suffering from it, but also the following one to twenty years you spend in recovery. If you recover. It effects your whole entire life. And it's not just you. It effects your family too. Your mom and dad sit around wondering what they did wrong. They wonder what they can do to help you. Usually, they're scared you're going to die and they don't know what to do. They send you to a center that they think will help you, but while those are a good kickstart, sometimes, they are not the answer to the problem. They are not recovery. FBT or Family Based Treatment shows the highest recovery rate. Is it difficult? That's an understatement. Is it worth all the time and money and tears? Also an understatement. If you have younger siblings, they are at a higher risk because you have a disorder. If you have younger siblings, it will effect them in many ways as well. "She's not going to die, is she?" How do you answer that question when you don't know yourself?

If you care. If you really, truly, care. You'll read. You'll research. You'll spread the word. You'll know these things, because they are as dangerous as an un-exploded bomb. Because if more people know, not just what they see and the rumors they hear, but know the facts? They won't be so quick to judge and they'll be much quicker to step in or step up and help. Knowledge is the key to making eating disorders extinct.

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