Anorexia Voices: Cries for Help
- Category: Friends and Family
Major Anorexia Treatment Block
Despite publicity around eating disorders today, a major block to treatment for some young people continues to be ignorance and a belief in the achievement of perfection. Teen-agers may not get treatment because influential adults in their lives believe anorexia is created by willful stubbornness or because they believe the teen is an image of beautiful perfection. Too often, anorexia propels a young person or an adult to a precarious state of health before treatment, usually residential, is sought.
Normal vs Symptomatic Power Strugges
Because issues of power, control, independence and rebellion are normal in families with teen-agers, symptoms of an eating disorder can be misinterpreted and not seen for what they are: indications of serious illness.
Parents and adults in responsible positions who would be quick to call an ambulance if a teen was bloodied, or quick to call a doctor if a teen was running a high fever may not see anorexic symptoms as a signal that requires fast and thorough professional attention.
The calls from young people can be heartbreaking.
Voices: (paraphrased and summarized)
... i sometimes can admit to myself that i have this problem, that getting thinner and thinner day by day is only going to kill me, but
most of the time i just deny it all together. the one time i tried to see a therapist, i heard him say on his way into the room that he couldn't understand why these g.d. kids insisted on starving themselves. i clammed up and never went back.
... My coach said, i always thought you were too smart for this sort of thing: you are the girl who has it all: grades and friends and looks and a great athlete. with so many other kids looking up to you, you owe it to them to be a little smarter.
....the "you're too smart for this" thing wiped me out. do people really think i don't know that what i do to my body every day is killing me?
...my parents are so proud of the way I look and how great my grades are. I heard my mom say, 'She's amazing. She even gets up early so she can run on the treadmill for two hours before she starts her day. That must be where she gets her energy because she doesn't have time to eat.'
...We (people of any age with suffering from anorexia) can't choose to erase the fear of food and calories. We can't eliminate the panic that arises every time we eat more than the allotted number of calories or foods that aren't safe to us.
...We're afraid all the time. We're being as courageous as we can, even
if that courage isn't strong enough to let go of our obsession.
Facing the Challenge of these Cries for Help
The challenge we as the human community face is to raise the level of eating disorder awareness in families, schools and all the health professions. Only then can we can help our young people quickly and effectively while they are in the early stages of anorexia.
Even better, we could get on the path that would eliminate the development of anorexia entirely. I hope you'll join me in this wish and help make it come true.
Do you recognize any of the quotes as coming from someone you love or yourself? Eating disorder recovery awareness is necessary for recovery to begin. Please share your story.