A Witness to Unawareness

I noticed that many gifted bloggers who struggle with eating disorders have been producing beautiful posts like it has been going out of style.  Many of the posts shed light on what it is truly like to live with the world’s most abusive individual – Ed. This of course spreads awareness like wildfire, which is apparently exactly what you are suppose to do during eating disorder awareness week.

But while other fellow bloggers have been madly composing the descriptive words in their series of eating disorder awareness week posts, I was not. Instead of spreading awareness like I should be doing, I became a witness to unawareness.  I was shocked to see that there were no posters hung up around my community reminding people of the real horrors of eating disorder. There were no announcements blaring in the morning while I sit in my French class at high school. There wasn’t even a minuscule article in the local newspaper! The only things I heard about eating disorders this week were brain-dead adolescents using the term “anorexic” to insult people, just like usual.

I though am going to change that and even if the action I will take will only touch the minds of 20 young people, so be it. It’s 20 more than before.  So you are probably all wondering what I am planning to do. Well, in my health occupations seminar at school, we were given the assignment of creating a health education presentation.  Seeing this as an incredible opportunity to educate today’s insensitive youth, I chose the topic of anorexia nervosa. For 3 weeks I have been diligently preparing my presentation, adding everything from the long history of disease to the hypermetabolic state anorexics face during the refeeding process.  By the time my presentation is done, I am confident that those teenagers will actually leave with some knowledge.

After experiencing this  year’s ED awareness week, it is quite evident people need to get up and out of their computers and start making a difference in their community.   Sure, the internet is a wonderful tool to communicate with others the importance of understanding eating disorders, but nothing beats actually meeting with people face-to-face and sharing your story. Yes, I know it is hard but the hardest things in life are the things that are worth it.  So get up and get out because you (yes you) have the power to make difference!

Help Someone Kick Ed’s Ass!

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This picture of a beautiful young lady is a picture of Rebecca Koch. Though she looks like a typical 18 year old girl with her whole life ahead of her, she has been through a lot more than most people will ever have to go through in a lifetime. For most of her life, she has been in and out of nearly 30 different treatment centers and has been taken to the emergency room a plethora of times. Now after years of struggles and hardships, she is finally kicking Ed’s ass and fighting for recovery. Currently she has been out of the hospital for over 3 months, which is actually the longest time she has EVER been out of the hospital in YEARS.

As you can imagine though, constant hospitalizations has plunged her and her mom into severe dept. So Rebecca set up an account on GoFundMe.com in order to raise money to help get her and her mom back on their feet. Please go to http://www.gofundme.com/fundsforbecca and donate.  Even just a dollar will make a HUGE difference for this young lady and her mom!

The Consequences of the Deadliest Mental Illness: An Anorexic’s Blood

Anorexia nervosa is a horrific disease that wages war on not only the soul of the individual but also every single part of their body. It massacres the bones causing them to become weak and brittle, it ferociously assaults the heart, and it can even permanently erase a women’s treasured ability to have her own child.  In this new blog series – The Consequences of the Deadliest Mental Illness – I will be discussing the myriad of health complications that come with the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa. I hope that this series of informative posts will help educate not only sufferers of the disease, but also family members and friends of those with anorexia as well as normal individual who have no personal connection to the disease. As national eating disorder weeks comes around, I am realizing more and more about how little people know about anorexia nervosa and eating disorders as a whole. I hope and pray that this series changes that and people start to realize that no one consciously chooses to have anorexia nervosa because NO ONE IN THE WORLD wants the potential fatal complications that come with the disease.

Now, the health complications I listed in the first paragraph  are pretty terrifying and those complications are usually the one’s doctors lecture about to their suffering anorexic patients the most. What the docs tend to fail to explain is the affects anorexia has on one of the most important bodily fluid – the blood. The blood is not just a dark red substance that drips down your knee after you take a good fall on the sidewalk. It’s actually the key to optimal health and survival.  So what makes blood so special? Well in order to understand that we need to look at each of the blood’s four basic components – the plasma, the red blood cells, the white blood cells, and last but certainly not least  – the platelets.

The plasma is kind of like a bodily fluid smoothie. It is a liquid that contains water, fat, sugars, proteins, and other nutrients. It’s main mission is to transport the other blood cells around the body.

The red blood cells look like little disks and are red colored because they contain a very special protein called hemoglobin. The hemoglobin helps the red blood transport oxygen throughout the body and return carbon dioxide to the lungs

The white blood cells, or leukocytes, are like your own personal body guard. Their job is to scout out and destroy foreign bodies that might bring you harm.

Finally we have our platelets which you can think of little  plumbers ready to fix a leak wherever it may be in your body. These fellas are actually fragments of cells that have the job of helping your blood clot when you get injured. They do this by booking it to the affected area and sticking to the lining of the “leaky” blood vessel, thus forming a platform for the blood to begin to coagulate.

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So now that you get the general idea of what the blood is comprised of and what each of the cells jobs are, it’s time to start learning what happens to the blood when an anorexic is unable to allow her body to get the nourishment it needs.

Anemia is one of the biggest health issues in malnourished anorexics, affecting 21% to 39% of all sufferers. It is a condition that is characterized by having too few red blood cells and do you remember what red blood cells do? They’re duty is to transport all the oxygen around the body and to kick out the carbon dioxide by sending it on back to the lungs.   So that means if you have too few of them, your body’s organs are not receiving enough oxygen to thrive.  This causes people with anemia to have shortness of breath, exercise intolerance, extreme fatigue, low energy, and dizziness. A lot of the times, the anemia can be the cause of a vitamin B-12 deficiency, which if left untreated, can lead to severe neurological damage.

Anemia isn’t the only issue with the blood cells in those with anorexia. A lot of the times the shape and structure of the red blood cells (RBC morphology) is extremely abnormal. Some anorexic suffers may have red blood cells that are unequal in size (anisocytosis),  red blood cells that are abnormally shaped (poikilocytosis), and red blood cells that are even spikey (acanthocytosis).

Another huge issue among those with anorexia is the toll starvation takes on their immune system. People with anorexia usually suffer from leukopenia – a condition where there are too few white blood cells in the body. This condition puts anorexics at risk for infection and sadly, it isn’t to hard for one little bug to push an anorexic’s ailing body to the edge and cause devastating effects.  Don’t believe me? Well, take the famous model Isabelle Caro for example. She put a nude picture of her emaciated body on a billboard for an anti-anorexia campaign. Despite many efforts to try to get better, Isabelle passed away in November of 2010 from a lung infection. She was just 28 years old. She could have had a lot going for her if it wasn’t for anorexia.

An image of the French model. Isabelle Caro before she passed away in November of 2010
An image of the French model. Isabelle Caro before she passed away in November of 2010 from an infection.

Though I am sure there are more hematological conditions that are the direct result of self-starvation caused by anorexia, those are the one’s I know about.  I hope that this post gave you a taste of what anorexics have to go through and maybe if you are anorexic, encouraged you to get the help you need. Please stay tune for more posts from this series!

If You Want to Help Folks with Eating Disorders, Get Your Facts Straight!

Hey everyone!

I am happy to say that school will start 2 hours later than usual, allowing me to release all my feelings on this very blog post. So sit back and relax as you get a glimpse of what is going on is my racing mind. . .

So last night as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, completely ignoring the mountains of homework I had to complete, I noticed a friend mentioning the fact that it was apparently eating disorder awareness week. Despite the fact I am one of the millions of people in America who have become a victim of Ed, I had absolutely no idea that this week we were suppose to make people aware of the hell Ed patients go through.

Since it is eating disorder awareness, a lot of my ED friends who claim to be in recovery (most of them are in denial) are posting pictures on their Facebook about how the media is the soul cause of anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders. According to this false theory, eating disorders would be completely nonexistent if models tipped the scales instead looking like emaciated Holocaust victims and obese Barbies infiltrated Toys R Us.  What people don’t realize is that eating disorder have been around for centuries, making them not even close to being a modern phenomenon. Have any of you guys heard of St. Catherine of Siena? She lived in medieval Europe and fasted for days on end. She was also known to induce vomiting using a branch from a tree. Back then, these behaviors were known as “Holy Anorexia” and many women participating in this extreme form of self-torture. According to them, they were purifying themselves and becoming closer in unity with God by deliberately denying themselves of food God has blessed his people with. Kind of counter-intuitive if you ask me, but then again we all know that eating disorders are illnesses that defy all logic.

In my opinion, eating disorders are masters of disguise. They are able to find a way to enter innocent people’s lives no matter what time-frame they are in by adapting to the time’s specific culture. Back in medieval days when Ed wanted to destroy the life of a person, the person just claimed she was fasting in order to become more holy. Now people with eating disorders say they starve themselves because they want to be “lean” and “healthy”.  In reality though, the reason why they are slowing killing themselves is because they have certain personality traits, genetic factors, and are exposed to specific environmental triggers.

So everyone, please just stop blaming the media and claiming you can stop eating disorders by increasing the fat people we see on TV and in magazines. Sorry but if it were that easy, no one’s body would be buried in a cemetery because they died of severe malnutrition.   If you want to actually help people who have eating disorders, start educating people about them in order to help end stereotypes, raise money for eating disorder research, or even start a group to help ED victims begin to walk on the path of recovery. Playing the blame will not cure people now and, I hate to break it to ya, but it NEVER WILL.

From My Enemy to My Hero

I know a lot of you readers have followed my blog since its birth this summer, and I am sure by now you know the broken relationship that I have with the person I am suppose to love unconditionally – my mother.

So many fights have broken out between us. Some were physical, leaving is both bruised and sore. Other battles were fought with just verbal warfare, but though those fights didn’t involve physical pain, my heart developed huge bruises and deep scars. And let me tell you, the fights where your heart is the only thing injured are the most fatal to the soul.

Due to the history between my mom and I, I was beginning to think that we would never bond. Till the day one of us goes to our grave, I thought we would be waiting and ready to pounce on one another for the most miniscule things.

This weekend though, those thoughts have vanished from my mind and I don’t think I will EVER let the back in.

If you remember my post from yesterday, my family and I were going to head out with some friends to spend the weekend at a cabin hidden deep in the Wisconsin woods. Though my parents had intended that we all leave yesterday evening, my father and sister were the only people who left that night. You see, I felt like a train had hit me. I just wanted to rest and I had no desire to jump in a car to head on off to the middle of nowhere. So I talked to my parents and we decided that my mom and I would leave the following morning (which was this morning). Well, this morning things changed again. My mom suffered an allergic reaction and felt like crap. Collectively, my mom and I made the decision to spend the weekend in the comfort of our own quiet house. And to be honest with you, I think God wanted that to happen because this weekend couldn’t have been any better.

My mom and I watched movies, ran errands, and well . . . just talked (which I think was exactly what we needed to do). We discussed everything from humorous events that occurred in our lives to my stay at Rogers. I learned that she too found the care I received their inadequate. She explain to me about the many nights she stayed up researching the Maudsley Approach. When she saw the success rate for children and adolescents, she jumped on the idea. She meant with my brainless treatment team and informed them that, due to her research, she would like to attempt the Maudsley Approach with me. Not surprisingly, my treatment team cut my poor mom down saying that that approach would just fail.

I never realized how much my mom stood up for me. She never left my side even though there were those dark days where I thought she had. I cannot describe in words how grateful and blessed I feel to have my mom. She is my advocate, my confidant, and most importantly – my hero.