Tune into the voice of the community by checking out deviantART's Journal Portal. Join the conversation by browsing, adding faves, and leaving comments, or submit your own Journal to let your voice be heard.
Eating Disorder AwarenessWelcome to an article about eating disorders, aimed at spreading awareness, advice, knowledge, and support into the community.
What is an eating disorder?
There are many known eating disorders in today's world; anorexia and bulimia are the most notorious ones. An eating disorder has to do with mental, emotional, and physical issues in regards to food and ones own body. There is no perfect description of what an eating disorder is, however, because every individual lives it in a different way. The only important distinction I can make is that an eating disorder in many ways cannot be controlled, it is an illness, and not a choice.
"Eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening conditions that affect a person’s emotional and physical health. They are not just a “fad” or a “phase.” People do not just “catch” an eating disorder for a period of time. They are real, complex, and devastating
My experience with eating disorders is personal and through friends. My first contact with an eating disorder was when I moved in with a lady who was bulimic. I was about 17 years old (1987) and I hadn't even heard of eating disorders back then. Unfortunately, once you find out, you never forget. I have struggled with an addictive personality my entire life and at that time I was a bit chubby and not happy with myself. I had started to exercise, which turned into an addiction in itself and it's something that often goes hand in hand with an eating disorder.
My problem with food started due to me hurting myself while jogging and it made me unable to exercise for over a year. To control my weight, I started to cut back on my food and that lead to the beginning of a very short bout of anorexia that saw me reach the weight of 45 kg (7 stone / 1.208 pounds). I found it difficult to control around people, so I started to eat and purge instead.
I suffered as a bulimic for several years and I finally stopped when I was in my mid to late 20s after receiving several years of counseling.
By that stage however, the damage was done. I have bad gums and still to this day I cannot go too long without food because my body begins to vomit and dry wretch. Mind you, that issue was much worse to experience in my late 20s because the only thing that would stop it was a trip to a GP and a needle of something to relax me.
Sadly, due to my addictive personality, I still can't control my impulses and I have a tendency to binge eat regularly. Thankfully, I don't purge any more, but I do have an issue with my weight. So I guess it's something that has never really healed for me, but has perversely evolved!
I described eating disorders as a mental health issue, an overpowering addiction, a compulsive/impulsive disorder and a disease . It's also something that goes hand in hand with other mental health issues such as depression or low self esteem etc. In my case, I am a diagnosed severe depressive, BPD, addictive personality and a few minor ocd's. An eating disorder is something that has a will of its own and really takes over a person. It's very scary.
No, I don't believe someone ever fully recovers - not in my case anyway. It's more of a case of management as you heal. I liken it to being a recovering alcoholic or gambler; you can recover, but it needs constant management and awareness.
The first step to getting help is for the sufferer to admit that they have a problem. They seclude themselves and hide their problem with amazing skill. Anger isn't going to help that person and I experienced a lot of that from family members. Any negative responses will draw the sufferer away from help and recovery.
Secondly, that person needs professional help. Some families think that they can help their loved ones themselves, however, because an eating disorder is a mental health issue (and a serious one), they are going to need help from trained professionals.
As a family member or good friend - be loving, caring, supportive and be ready for a long haul with possible setbacks.
Get professional help - go to your GP and / or see a counselor. Of course, that depends upon the severity as well, many will need hospital treatment. Time is your best friend here. This will take a lot of time to heal, so be patient and be strong.
That the person thinks that they are in control by being anorexic or bulimic, whereas the eating disorder is controlling them.
There are 3 questions here, but they are strongly linked to form 1. The answer is yes = eating disorders are a way of controlling something when all else in a person's life is or feels out of control - it's a survival mechanism that can be caused by any number of things such as...
Environmental conditions - Off the top of my head, youth are dealing with the faster pace and higher stress of today's society. There's the continual media induced targeting of what is meant to be beautiful. There's also a higher divorce rate, which means that life at home sucks! In opposition to that, there are those that expect high achievement. Peer pressure is still around. Bullying is rife and targeting individuals is easier / nastier with today's technology. This list goes on and on...
You mention genetics. I believe that's a fairly new approach to where an eating disorder comes from. I can't make an educated comment on this subject, but I can say that it would makes sense in some cases. I previously likened it to alcoholism and that is also a predisposition known to be genetic in many.