Anorexia Nervosa

What is wrong with today’s society? Girls and boys starving themselves to fir into the image of what we are suppose to be? That is ridiculous. Yet, I say that when in fact I am a victim myself…

First, some facts.

Anorexia Nervosa has been around for quite some time. It may not have been front page news but it has always been there as a quiet killer. Although it is most common in females, boys can develop it as well. The people most effected by anorexic are usually teenagers and young adults, however it affects all age groups. When a person has anorexia they starve themselves, cut calories, and often skip meals. Anorexia is the third most common long-term condition in teenagers. It is also the most common cause of death (up to 12 times higher than any other condition) among young women ages 15 to 24. 20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems. Female athletes in aesthetic sports (e.g. gynmastics, ballet, figure skating) found to be at the highest risk for eating disorders. An estimated 10-15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are male.

Symptoms of this disorder include: dry skin, thin appearance, thin or falling out hair, brittle nails, constipation, intolerance of cold, and dizziness or fainting. Some effects are it can cause brittle bones, bad breath, kidney failure, metabolism difficulties, osteoporosis, fatigue, low blood pressure, irregular heart ryhthms, and heart failure.

Now to the stories.

High school, and even middle school is filled with drama, bullying, and judgement, everyone knows that. I am a 10th grader and I know first hand what peer pressure, stress, and anxiety can do to a teenager. I am also a dancer. The struggle to be thin and look skinny these days is unreal. In school, every single day I see someone who is skinnier than me, someone who looks prettier than me, and then someone who bullys me for not being skinny. Every single day I believe I have thought at least once ¨Do I look fat in this?¨ or ¨Why am I so fat?¨ It is not healthy either, I know that, but I just can’t help it. My friends and family tell me all the time how skinny I am, but I can always find someone skinnier and prettier. I struggle with self image and self confidence. The stress and anxiety I get from school and dance doesn’t help either. That brings up another point, ballet. In ballet you want to have perfect posture, you suck in, have nice toned arms and legs that look good in a leotard and tights, and be skinny. Although the dance world is changing and is maybe slowly adopting bigger dancers, the Royal Ballet for example in New York has all skinny, tiny, perfect ballerinas. Many ballet dancers develop anorexia because they want to look the best on stage, or to have their teacher not to tell that they look fat at the barre and need to lose weight. As a dancer myself, I want to be skinny. I envy all of those perfect ballerinas with the perfect body.  I belive that and my school stressors is what drove me to develop anorexia nervosa.

It started out as just skipping lunch every other day, then everyday. After that, I would skip a breakfast or a dinner. I saw weight coming off and I got excited that it seemed to be working. However, now I know that I was just hurting my body. I worked out all the time. There is nothing with a daily gym routine, I think it is a fabulous stress reliever. But with my anorexic mind I was taking it too far. I would workout every single day for at least two hours. It was all I could think about. I wanted to gain some muscle mass but really I just wanted all of that fat off of my body. I would exhaust myself to the point where I would pass out. I actually passed out at school once during a Physical Training class in AFJROTC at school. I scared all of my classmates, boyfriend, and parents to death. I loved loosing weight. I would weigh myself constantly, sometimes 5 times in a single day. Then I started noticing some bad changes were going on as well. I couldn’t focus as easily as I once did. My eyesight worsened. I felt weak after only two dance classes. And worse of all, I felt bloated all of the time. There was like a never-ending emptiness in my stomach. I loved that feeling at first, thinking that it was good sign, that I was doing it right. I realize only now that I was just screaming for food and nurishment. I lost 10 pounds in one week. My parents and even some of my friends told me how great I looked. I was thrilled! But later on that same day, my boyfriend found out.

He made sure I ate at least a sandwich at lunch everyday and had 2-3 bottles of water. He gave me snacks all the time and told my parents what was really going on. They are going to start taking me to the therapist and doctor more often now. They are trying to get me to get on anti-depression and anxiety medications. I actually feel better now. I feel fat, but I know that it is for my well-being. Without my boyfriend, I don’t know where I would be.

Moral of the story? If you have this disorder, tell someone! I know it is hard but it better for you! Anorexia nervose is not the answer to look better. There are workout trainers and nutrition specialists that are willing to help. Also therapists are everywhere as well as guidane couselors. Just ask someone! I am here as well. If you or a friend are developing symotms please just reach out. There is someone out there who is willing to help!

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