How do you explain to people why you suddenly decide to stop eating? Why can’t other people see you the way you see yourself?
These are the two most common questions people with the eating disorder anorexia are faced with as their bodies gradually get thinner and thinner until they look like emaciated skeletons and in some extreme cases, starve themselves to death.
Of course there are no easy answers to these questions. Anorexia is an extremely complicated and dangerous illness. It’s an eating disorder that has it’s origins in the sufferers own mind. Unlocking the source of this horrendous disease has long baffled families and medical professionals trying to deal with it’s tortured victims. However I would like to offer an insight into just one person’s difficult struggle that lasted for more than 20 long years.
For me it began quite simply with Charlie’s Angels. Yes indeed, I can definitely pinpoint the beginning of my obsession to the arrival on the small screen of those three dynamic and slim, small breasted beauties. Now I know you may be thinking, ‘but isn’t anorexia to do with some deep routed, terrible family trauma.’ Well that seems to be the popular way of thinking these days but quite honestly I don’t necessarily subscribe to that view. While it may be true in some cases, for me and I suspect for many other young women it simply stems from a desire to be thin. Nothing more complicated than that. I wanted to be skinny. I wanted to look like Farrah Fawcett Majors.
And so it began, eating less and less until I was surviving on a bowl of All Bran and a tube of Smarties. Walking miles and miles a day. Dancing around the house for hours on end in a frantic effort to burn calories and popping laxatives and diuretics morning, noon and night. And even when I was less than 6 stone I couldn’t convince myself I was thin enough. Unfortunately for me I was one of those people cursed with a big stomach so however much weight I lost my stomach always seemed out of proportion to the rest of my body and made me feel fat. Even when Charlie’s Angels were a distant memory the battle still continued on a daily basis.
Of course this kind of lifestyle couldn’t continue. I had a child to take care of and a home to look after and somehow I managed to stop myself from self destructing. However eating disorders like anorexia never really go away. They nag away at you threatening to drag you back down when you least expect it but for me I decided to use the experience to try and find out why I’d fallen into its grip in the first place. My problem was, and still is, my stomach. To be more precise – bloating. Bloating has a way of making even skinny people appear fat. It’s a strange complaint in that the sufferer can appear to have a perfectly flat stomach first thing in the morning which then for some reason blows up like a balloon by evening. No matter how skinny your arms and legs are and even though your shoulder blades may be sticking out through your clothes, when your stomach is swollen you still feel fat. So I decided to channel my energies into trying to discover the cause of my problem and maybe come up with a solution. Luckily for me I managed to eventually isolate the culprit that was causing my bloating. I realized that by following a careful diet I was able to control my symptoms and found that although I now weigh over 2 stone more than at those low points in my life, I actually look fairly well proportioned and relatively slim. This led to me recording my findings in my book The Flat Stomach Diet.
So there you have it. Although this may sound like an over simplification of a serious and potentially dangerous illness it is nonetheless a true account of my own personal experience. There may be many reasons why someone becomes anorexic and for some it is a lifelong spiral with no happy outcome. But if you are a sufferer or are caring for someone who is I hope this account demonstrates that some of us have found a way out and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
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