Dear Anorexia, you suck.
According to Merriam-Webster, anorexia is "a serious physical and emotional illness in which an abnormal fear of being fat leads to very poor eating habits and dangerous weight loss."
According to my inspirational, courageous cousin who conquered this mental illness, anorexia is stepping to the edge of a diving board and wanting so badly to have enough courage to jump but just not being able to.
We can all agree that the latter of those two definitions is a lot more real. It's tangible, and it puts anorexia into perspective. Those who have battled anorexia deserve to have their struggles be heard. So let's examine some lesser known facts about the illness.
First things first
Let's debunk the myth before it goes too far. An eating disorder does not usually start because the person being affected doesn't like the way he or she looks. Instead, it starts because there is some type of overwhelming stressor in their life, and the eating disorder is their way of finding control and stability.
"I loved feeling hungry."
Those who are affected with anorexia stop feeling hunger in the way that they previously did. Hunger becomes a sensation that they like. When someone doesn't allow his or her self to eat, they make a conscious decision to gain control of a certain aspect of their life.
The exact words of one survivor: "The hunger started in my throat and worked its way down to my stomach until I was salivating at pictures of food I wouldn't allow myself to eat."
Families are affected more than you think.
Eating disorders affect more than just the person suffering from them. Family members, friends and significant others are drastically impacted. We don't realize how big of a role food plays in our lives until we're told to never talk about it. Because anorexia is mental, physical and emotional, there are many psychological restraints on what can be discussed around the affected person.
Changes in your body
Aside from the obvious change, the body experiences many other changes due to weight loss. Many sufferers find that they sweat substantially less and are constantly cold because of the reduction in body fat. Anorexia can also cause some people to lose some of their hair. For some women, it causes their period to stop.
Body checking is a thing. Many people who suffer from anorexia grab at certain body parts to make sure it feels the same way as it did the day before.
Who's more sick?
When you're not in your usual state of mind and there's nothing you can do about it, the decisions you make are not typical "you" decisions. Just as hunger makes anyone irrational or grumpy, it affects those battling anorexia in a similar fashion. The only difference is the way that they experience hunger is different and makes the mood changes much worse. In fact, some people claim that when in recovery, they were competing with other patients to see who could be the most sick.
Dear survivors, you rock.