Eating Disorders- Dying to be Perfect

The Eating Disorder Epidemic

Many young girls and women with eating disorders like to read up on their disorder. Maybe it's because it gives them new hints and ideas. It could also be that people with eating disorders feel a sense of satisfaction when reading articles relating to them.

A lot of attempts to educate people on eating disorders have actually unintentionally glamorized disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia. My goal is not to do that here. I hope to open a few eyes and try to stop females (and males) from going down this ugly and potentially deadly road. Some of the pictures on here will be graphic, however I feel that it is necessary to see what an advanced eating disorder looks like.

Karen Carpenter

Karen Carpenter, with her brother, early in her career.
Karen Carpenter, with her brother, early in her career.
Karen Carpenter died from complications resulting from anorexia.  Looking at pictures like this one, it's hard to believe she was only 32 when she died.
Karen Carpenter died from complications resulting from anorexia. Looking at pictures like this one, it's hard to believe she was only 32 when she died.

There are many types of eating disorders but the main two are anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Anorexics starve themselves. They eat barely enough calories to survive. Bulimics eat large quantities of food and then purge by vomiting, abusing laxatives and diuretics and /or compulsive exercising.

Eating disorders usually start in adolescence but can begin much earlier (even as early as seven) or can begin as an adult. Eating disorders more commonly affect women but men suffer from eating disorders too. Some blame the media for eating disorders but it is more complicated than that. I do agree that the media needs to start acting more responsibly and that fashion designers need to stop glamorizing extreme thinness. There is much more to this epidemic than the media and Hollywood. While the media may influence young people, there is usually an underlying problem.

The person with an eating disorder usually has a low self esteem and is filled with self loathing. She may come from an abusive family or a family that may push their children too hard. People affected by anorexia usually are perfectionists that feel they have to be the best. Perhaps a close family member also suffered from an eating disorder. Many bulimics and anorexics have been sexually abused. There could be many reasons but one thing all people affected by eating orders have in common is that they feel like they are undeserving and worthless.

A Former Model's Tragic End- Italy's Anorexic Poster Girl

Isabella Caro was a model who became an anti-anorexic spokesperson. She posed in shocking Italian ads to warn people of eating disorders
Isabella Caro was a model who became an anti-anorexic spokesperson. She posed in shocking Italian ads to warn people of eating disorders
Isabella's weight plummetted to under 60lbs.
Isabella's weight plummetted to under 60lbs.
Caro died in 2010 at the age of 28.  Her mother committed suicide shortly after.
Caro died in 2010 at the age of 28. Her mother committed suicide shortly after.

Isabella Caro

Anorexia and Bulimia Go Hand in Hand

People who starve themselves can only deprive themselves for so long before they give in. Once they do give in, they may binge, panic and then purge. This is why people with anorexia usually also suffer from bulimia as well. It is a vicious cycle.

Purging does not help to lose weight. In fact many bulimics (who do not have anorexia) are usually in their normal weight range or slightly overweight.

When anorexics begin eating normal again, they will put on more weight than what they started off with. Even worse, when a person has been starving themselves for a long period of time, there is little chance the person can reverse most of the damage and go back to a normal life.

Anorexia Complications and Long Term Effects

Does being thin equal being beautiful? Here's what you can look forward to as an anorexic.

Amenorreha is the loss of ones' menstrual period. Anorexics will stop having periods without nourishment. Sounds great not to have a monthly period but it's really not. Amenorreha can be dangerous and can create a slew of health problems such as infertility, osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer.

Hypothermia You need your fat cells. When you stop eating for a long period of time, you will feel cold all the time. The result? Your body will create FUR as a protection against the cold. Glamorous, isn't it?

Premature Aging Anorexics look old. Anorexics have wrinkles, age spots, dark circles and bags.

Anemia is a red blood cell deficiency. Anemia symptoms include shortness of breath, paleness, weakness, hair loss and heart problems.

Heart Disease Heart complications are very common with anorexics. Heart attacks can lead to death.

Bone Loss and Osteoporosis Bone loss is very painful and there is no cure.

Kidney Problems Common and if not treated can result in kidney failure. Kidney failure can land you in a coma and kill you.

Seizures are a result of abnormal excessive activity of nerve cells in the brain.

Anxiety Disorders, OCD and Depression Your brain needs nourishment just as much as the rest of your body. Without nourishment many mental health problems can occur.

Gastrointestinal Complications Irritable Bowel Syndrome, bloat and constipation are just a few problems that can occur.

Multi-organ Failure Your body can only take so much. After years of eating disorders, your body will start shutting down in the same way an elderly person's body shuts down. Many anorexics need wheelchairs. Once organs start to fail in this way, the problems may be irreversable.

Premature Death The end result of an eating disorder not treated.

Shocking Footage Including Isabella Caro and Others.

Decayed teeth of a bulimic
Decayed teeth of a bulimic

Bulimia

Since bulimics are usually in a normal weight range it's difficult to know if someone is a bulimic. Like anorexics, bulimics lack nourishment and usually have the same similar complications. Additional problems include:

Tooth decay

Stomach ulcers and possible stomach rupture

Sores around mouth

Dependence on laxatives to have bowel movements

Acid Reflux

Permanent damage to the esophagus

Dehydration

Liver Damage

Broken blood vessels around eyes which can affect vision.

Getting Help

Many people with eating disorders think they have control of their lives. They believe that what they are doing proves they are strong and have willpower. The fact is that when you have an eating disorder, you are not in control. The disease is in control and you are not just hurting yourself. You are hurting those around you who love you. Death is the ultimate result of an eating disorder left untreated. Think about those you will leave behind if that were to happen to you. Is it really worth it?

Please contact your doctor and get treatment. A few sites that can help you listed here.

NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association) http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

help line: 1-800-931-2237

Mirror-Mirror at http://www.mirror-mirror.org/gethelp.htm

help line: 1-800-841-1515

Comments 4 comments

pinkydoo profile image

pinkydoo 5 years ago from New York

My friend had anorexia..luckily, she realized what she was doing to herself before it became as serious as the women you show...the pictures are so shocking to see....so disturbing, yet necessary since so many anorexics have that "body dysmorphia" and they don't see themselves as being skinny! Everyone with an eating disorder should be directed to this hub!


amymarie_5 profile image

amymarie_5 5 years ago from Chicago IL Author

Thank you for commenting Pinkydoo! Its good to know your friend got better. A friend I had in grade school became anorexic. She's so thin and weak she can't walk on her own. It's heartbreaking. Body dysmorphia was always a problem with her too. I don't think a lot of people truly understand that it's a disease. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my hub.


Kiki 22 months ago

This is such a moving post...and I relaly had no idea Heather. It is so brave of you to come out about your issues with this and it shows your strength. I understand completely though, your reasons for eating healthy now, for not 'not-eating' now. My son does the same for me. I've told him time and again over the years that he is and will always be my guiding light, giving me the strength to do all that I never thought I could. I have overcome so much, fought battles that I can't imagine I made it through and I honestly owe it all to him, for without him, I'm not sure I could have come up with reason enough to keep fighting. As you know from posts you've commented on over at S&D, I've always been naturally thin. I consider myself so lucky that I've always seen myself as my image in the mirror actually portrays. If I saw myself as bigger, I could easily fall into the same trap and I feel I would succumb quite quickly. My heart goes out to you for your struggle. I know it can be hard sometimes, but your attitude about it shows that you have what it takes to continue to overcome it all. If it's any consolation at all, you are absolutely beautiful and even in your most recent picture, you are thin to the point that there are so many out there who would wish to be in your shoes (or your pants size for that matter). Here for TFCT.


Lucimar 22 months ago

When I re-read my post I wonder what I was thikinng. My eating disorder is totally active. The way I eat is messed up and even though I buy the right foods, nutritious foods that I like, I end up not eating them. Right now I am going through a sugar phase. I don't think I am thikinng clearly. I am not getting the nutrients I need and I have had deficiencies in the past that have become severe. I think eating disorders do something to your brain where you r cognition suffers and slows way down.I have a new therapist who I can talk to and who talks back, a psychiatrist who doesn't talk (she write scripts). I've had an excellent nutritionist in the past one time I was inpatient and I have been educated about nutrition, so I know what a whole meal is, I know how to balance protein, carbs, fats, veggies and fruits. I even have a selection of meal plans and meals I have written out. The nutritionists I have seen in the city have been no help. My insurance limits me severely to who I see. When I was underweight one nutritionist told me, well you have a small frame so I guess that is all right. (!)Why don't I eat the healthy food that I buy? I don't understand. I am ambivalent about maintaining my weight.But that isn't the whole reason. I know it is up to me to maintain my health and I want to be healthy throughout my life. But this isn't evident in the limited foods I choose to eat.I do need extra support. I live in New York City. I found a free support group, but it was highly triggering. My insurance doesn't cover what little support is offered here.I feel as if I have given up, perhaps, and given in to whatever the ED morphs into. I think it might be different if I were not alone all the time. I tend to stay in my apartment and resist going out. I am afraid no one would want to be friends with a depressed, anxious person with an eating disorder and no life.

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