Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2009

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Eating Disorders are a chemical imbalance in the brain. Sufferers try to make their whole life better through their food habits. They seek approval and acceptance from everyone through negative attention. They believe life will not be good unless their eating disorder achieves its goal. They have little concern or awareness to the damage it is doing. They are convinced their self-esteem is directly related with what they do or do not eat and how they look.

Eating Disorder is a very broad term for many different kinds of mental illnesses all involving food and weight, however the under lying psychological problems of eating disorders are so much more than just food and weight.

Eating Disorders like suffers come in many shames and sizes.

Anorexia Nervosa – where sufferers starve themselves or restrict their food intake. In order to:

  • Loose weight, aspiring to un-realistic targets
  • Gain a sense of achievement from the punishment or the loss of weight.
  • Stem the growing process or delay puberty
  • And many more reasons.

Bulimia Nervosa – where sufferers binge and then purge (force vomiting). This is done again for many of the same reasons as Anorexia. However, there is also the comfort eating aspect of the binge and then the feeling of punishment or disgust that causes the sufferer then to purge.

Overeating Disorder or Binge Eating Disorder – where sufferers comfort eat or binge uncontrollably to, just like anorexia, gain a sense of success or an unreachable self-esteem.

These different eating disorders still cause so much devastation, not only with the sufferer’s life, but also with their family and friends.

Sufferers experience an amazing amount of shame and secretiveness about their eating habits. Because of this, their family and friends are isolated uncontrollably out of their lives with a series of lies and deceit. Even when the sufferers are confronted, they force themselves away from their family and friends in fear of them stopping the disordered way of life.

The ultimate problem is that an Eating Disorder tricks the sufferer into believing that their life without the ED will be worse than with it.

The strange aspect of an Eating Disorder is the sufferer’s feelings and knowledge of the medical damage they are doing to themselves. Most sufferers will be aware of the dangers of Eating Disorders however most of the time they are disillusioned. Be this in the form that they do not believe they are as ill as they actually are or that they will be able to stop the way of life it gets too out of control. Some sufferers if they are very heavily influenced by their depression and lack of self-worth will actually believe they deserve the problems that are caused. Some sufferers are also very blissfully unaware of the potential problems and in fact that they are suffering from an Eating Disorder.

However, the main unknown aspect of an Eating Disorder is that recovery is such a long and laborious process. It is not just the simple, and commonly thought, cure of getting the sufferer back to a normal weight. This is a major part of the recover; however, this is just the first part.

When someone is dangerously under-weight or over-weight, his or her cognitive function is affected. This means that any psychology or counselling is pointless. However once the sufferers is in more of a mentally fit state to respond to the help there are so many underlying factors that may have caused the illness that it can take some time to un-ravel and then fix. It can take many years for sufferers to start accepting themselves and to actually start beating the battle against and eating disorder. Even then, a relapse is still a possibility.

Just as a cigarette or alcohol is turned to in times of stress, a person who suffers or has suffered with an Eating Disorder will turn to their “coping mechanism”. This can just be a short period and then they can regain a normal living situation, or their relapse can become again a way of life and a way of coping. It is estimated that for every year someone suffers with an eating disorder, it can take two before a full recover is made. However most Eating Disorders can go detected for a decade or longer, making recovery a very long and difficult journey to make.

Eating Disorders are commonly misunderstood and are hard to detect. The serious misunderstanding of the illness and the secretive nature of sufferers means that they can go undetected for too long.

I urge you during this week just to take some time to consider the devastating effects of an Eating Disorder and to become more aware of their symptoms affects.

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