Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In memory of Jennifer...an anorexic

This is going to be a long and difficult, but important post. I'm already in tears. I feel I need to write it though, especially after one of my cousins expressed concern about me and my weight loss.

Jennifer was my next door neighbor, friend and my first babysitting job. She passed away a few years ago from anorexia. She was NEVER fat. Always so skinny even as a little girl. I was shocked when I learned she had anorexia and saddened to learn she'd passed away.

Anorexia is an eating disorder AND a psychological disorder where people starve themselves. They are usually 15% below the normal body weight for their height and age. We see them as overly skinny but they see themselves as fat. It's about control. There are so many things in our lives that are out of our control. For anorexics, eating and exercise are things they have absolute control over.

There are several signs and symptoms of anorexia. They can include:

* not eating in public, not eating, cutting food into tiny pieces
* anxiety and personality disorders
* depression and or social withdrawal
* weakness, fatigue, inability to sleep well
* brittle skin and nails
* shortness of breath
* obsessiveness about calorie intake, food portions, housework, sex, shopping and exercise
* they often fix large meals for others but don't eat what they've fixed

Medical consequences can include:

* shrunken bones
* low body temperature
* irregular heartbeat
* abnormal growth or osteoporosis
* bulimia nervosa
* difficulty conceiving or carrying a baby to term
* constipation and abdominal pain
* potassium deficiency and mineral loss
* electrolyte imbalance from laxatives and vomiting

Causes of anorexia may be:

* demands from family and society
* poor self image
* a fear of growing up (mostly in girls)
* high parental expectations
* poor communication skills
* recent studies are showing possible genetic links and brain dysfunctions as possible causes

Unlike many diseases, anorexia can be treated. It can be overcome. Women sufferers can carry and give birth to healthy babies. Most cases can be treated through outpatient services but some require hospital stays. Just as losing weight healthily, anorexics must gain weight in a healthy way, usually 2-3 pounds a week. Individual, group and family therapy are all highly recommended as there is usually an underlying problem which caused the anorexia. Proper nutrition education is important as well. Some may choose antidepressants to help with moods and anxiety.

One percent of teenage girls in the US will develop anorexia. It's seen in many middle and upper economic classes and many are athletes, dancers, models and actors. One percent may seem like a small number, but of that 1%, up to 10% may die from the disorder. The most common causes of death are cardiac arrest, electrolyte imbalance and suicide.

We can blame society, but it's up to parents to be the most positive role models for their children. My cousin was afraid of the impact I was making on my children when she was afraid I was becoming anorexic. I could never be anorexic. I like to eat too much! I could never be bulimic either. After being pregnant 5 times, I have no desire to throw up on purpose. I and my family joke about me being fat but we understand that I am not fat, nor do I view myself as fat. I was over weight for me and was uncomfortable. I am not on a diet. I am on a healthy meal plan. They see me eating healthy and exercising. I've spoken with them about making healthier food choices and cutting back on chips and cookies. We've discussed obesity, diabetes, anorexia, bulimia and clogged arteries.

I am in no danger of becoming anorexic. I am very aware of what I eat and the exercises I do, not as something to control, but as a way to become healthier. I want my children to be healthy, too. Kelly and Reyna look at those stick figure models as ugly and unhealthy. We saw a little boy at Busch Gardens on Saturday who was the same age and height as Maisie. He had to of weighed at least twice as much. We were very sad for him and his overweight parents. Neither of my older girls have any desire to look like a stick figure OR a rollie-pollie. It's MY responsibility as a parent to make sure they have that type of attitude. It's MY responsibility to see that my children eat healthy and get plenty of exercise. If you ask them who their role models are, they will tell you me and their dad.

While researching this topic, I came upon a site where girls posted about their anorexia. They are proud of their disease and how they look. They boasted about trying on size 0 jeans and them being too big. I read two posts and started crying. I only read one page. It was all I could stand. I wanted so much to give each of those girls a hug. I decided not to include the link. I'm not sure if you have to become a member to post but my fear was that people would go on there and say mean and nasty things to those girls. Negative comments will not help them. I cannot help them in any way except to pray for them. I can only help my own children. Their family and friends are the only ones who can help those girls.

Instead of tips today, I want you to look at yourselves and your families. Are you making healthy choices? Do you see anyone in danger of developing an eating disorder? Open your eyes and look deep inside yourselves as well as paying close attention to those you love and care for.

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  1. check out your blog NOW little girl........... you are sooo gonna be the next JNL- just please dont charge me for everything!!!

  2. You're already locked in at the $000,000 rate! Thanks, Love!