Anorexia Nervosa

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Anorexia Nervosa
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    Addressing High Suicide Rates in Anorexia Nervosa Is Suicide Prevention

    Anorexia nervosa can be fatal — 10% of people living with anorexia die from the mental illness. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental health condition — which can be terrifying knowledge for people with eating disorders — but there’s very little discussion about why so many people with anorexia pass away. At first glance, the high mortality rate for people with anorexia nervosa may seem simple to explain — people who aren’t fully nourishing their bodies for long periods of time may be at risk of injury, illness, or death. But even though many people with anorexia do pass away because of the physical effects of their symptoms, a surprisingly large amount die by suicide too. Suicide is the twelfth leading cause of death in the United States, and in 2017, 1.4% of global deaths were by suicide. For people with anorexia, however, the numbers are even graver. Among people with a history of anorexia, the prevalence of suicide is 24.9%, with suicide attempt rates at 44.1% for people with the binge/purge subtype of anorexia and at 15.7% for people with the restrictive anorexia subtype. There are myriad reasons why suicide and suicide attempt rates may be so much higher for people with anorexia. Malnutrition can affect brain function, which can lead to mood changes and difficulties with critical thinking. The psychological component of anorexia — pervasive thoughts about food, weight, and body type — can be detrimental as well, overwhelming people with anorexia nervosa until they feel a need to “escape” from their eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, and compulsions. Moreover, many people with anorexia nervosa enter treatment settings in which they are no longer able to eat or perform other daily life activities on their own terms, and the carceral practices many eating disorder treatment centers use to “contain” clients’ eating disorder symptoms can leave clients wondering if suicide is the only way to no longer feel trapped. The reasons behind the significant amount of suicides of people with anorexia are not discussed often — but they should be. Eating disorder treatment providers are often so focused on treating the physical and psychological symptoms of anorexia itself that they may overlook clients who are suicidal. Doctors may view refeeding as an immediate need for people with anorexia but may not ask their patients about co-occurring depression symptoms, suicidal thoughts, or past suicide attempts. However, openly recognizing that malnutrition and organ failure are not the only causes of mortality in anorexia nervosa can save people with this potentially fatal mental illness from dying by suicide. Providing trauma-informed care in eating disorder treatment settings, screening for suicide risk and developing effective safety plans, and focusing on treating other mental illnesses, like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder (BPD) directly alongside anorexia may lower suicide risk in people with anorexia nervosa. Discussing the risk of suicide in people with anorexia and reducing the stigma surrounding suicide among people with eating disorders may help people with anorexia who have contemplated suicide feel less alone as well — which could also prevent suicide. As Suicide Prevention Awareness Month continues, it’s important to remember that addressing daily struggles for people with anorexia nervosa is suicide prevention. Allowing people with anorexia to discuss their comorbid mental illnesses in treatment, providing them with safe, healthy coping skills for when their eating disorder thoughts feel too overwhelming to handle, effectively treating eating disorder clients’ past trauma, and dismantling the current eating disorder treatment structure to make it more gentle and less carceral may prevent suicides — and eventually may ultimately reduce the suicide rate for people with anorexia. Anorexia nervosa isn’t just a collection of potentially fatal physical symptoms; it’s also heavily linked to suicide deaths — so treating anorexia in an effective, empathetic, and trauma-informed way may be a necessary form of suicide prevention.

    Community Voices

    Retraumatized by the mental health system

    <p>Retraumatized by the <a href=" health" class="tm-embed-link  tm-autolink health-map" data-id="5b23ce5800553f33fe98c3a3" data-name="mental health" title="mental health" target="_blank">mental health</a> system</p>
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    Community Voices

    Half my size

    So bought some new clothes today and got my eye brows waxed. Also I guy checked me out. :)

    Also saw my psychiatrist who interrogated me due to my past with anorexia. After anorexia I had binge eating disorder and became 280 pounds. Now I’m skinny mini. Wasn’t fun though. Was irritating. Told her I was going back to therapy. The therapist does EMDR and since 15 years of therapy have failed me she’s hoping EMDR will help.

    To be fair 15 years of therapy I didn’t know I had CPTSD so… perhaps we weren’t working on the right things. Also therapist vary WIDELY in value. You know what I mean.

    #PTSD #CPTSD #Trauma #Abuse #AnorexiaNervosa #BingeEatingDisorder #emdr

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    Community Voices

    I Choose Recovery

    Part 1 of 2 My childhood was like most girls. I was highly social, got my energy through being with others, and I had many friends. I played soccer, loved fashion and went to sleep away camp. Occasionally I would worry or get anxious, but it was mainly situational and nothing that concerned my parents at the time.

    Then I proceeded to high school, and as 9th grade started, so did my mental health journey. This was the beginning of a new chapter of my life. I had uncertainty, as any 15 year old would, and had no idea what to expect. I was aware of the stigmas surrounding mental illness and feared that something was in fact wrong with me; something that made me different or not normal like my peers. I grew up in a town where everyone would put on a front, had perfect images on their Instagram stories, and would hide their reality behind closed doors. My picturesque hometown had many more problems than you could see from the outside.

    When my Cognitive Behavior Therapist (CBT), at the time, recommended medication, shock ensued. I had this antiquated perception of what it meant to take medication and the impact on my future. I always wanted to be a “normal” kid, and I believed at the time that this would stand in the way of normalcy. I started regularly taking medication for anxiety, depression, and later ADHD, which presented a whole new set of challenges in terms of how I felt on a daily basis. One medication cocktail made me lightheaded, another made me nauseous, while another one gave me shaky hands. I felt hopeless. Something had to work. After a year of medications that either didn’t work or had intolerable side effects, my new psychiatrist performed a GeneSight test, a pharmacogenomic test which analyzes how your genes may affect medication outcomes based on genetic variations in your DNA. Results informed by the Doctor how I break down or respond to certain medications. After creating a better medication cocktail, I felt good. And this was the first time I had felt good in a while.

    I am not kidding when I say high school was tough. I felt alone and no matter how many friends I had, I still had this constant state of loneliness. Without having friends who experienced what I experienced, I felt like no one truly understood my struggles. With this time bringing the rise of a variety of social media applications, I was exposed to other people’s stories, their struggles, and who shared the feelings I had. I suddenly didn’t feel so alone. During my four high school years I experienced anxiety attacks, migraine headaches, and what comes along with taking an ADHD medication, loss of appetite. I do have fond memories though of eating ice-cream for breakfast most mornings to keep my weight at a healthy level.

    Everything was good for a while, but it was now time to decide if college was the appropriate option for me at that time. My family and college counselor weighed the pros and cons of attending college or doing a gap year program for those with similar struggles, to slowly adjust myself to the start of my independence. My therapist and executive functioning coach worked with me to establish a list of milestones that I would need to achieve to be college ready. I wanted to be “normal”, and I believed that attending college was what “normal” people do. My mind was set that I would attend college, I achieved all my milestones and my parents agreed to let me take this leap.

    And a leap it was, attending a large university, a 13-hour ride from home. It felt great being independent, surrounded by new people, and fresh experiences. I loved making new friends and making new memories to replace some of the old ones. I worked hard, achieved good grades, rushed, and joined a sorority, created more friendships, and finally did not feel alone. Life was good, everything I imagined for myself and quite honestly, I was proud of how far I had come.

    Well, not for long.

    It was March 2020, and I was preparing for my first college spring break. As I was packing my bags, my parents warned me of a new virus that was taking the country by storm. I purposely shut out this looming reality and did not think this would impact me. I was finally happy with my life and didn’t want anything to disrupt that. Soon after that conversation, I received an email from my university saying that we would have a two-week class break due to the spread of COVID on campus and throughout the country. I sobbed. I didn’t want to leave the place that finally made me feel so happy.

    I had a glimmer of hope I could return. I had so much hope that I only packed a small bag for my trip home. My trip home quickly turned into a trip into isolation, being alone in my room taking online classes that extended into my entire freshman year. I was devastated. No more independence, no more learning in classes with my peers, no more sorority e

    Community Voices

    I Choose Recovery

    Part 2 of 2 vents, no more fun times with my new college friends. I finally had found my place and people, and after seven months, it all came to an end sooner.

    Quarantine was an interesting time. I had a steady routine of waking up late, scrolling through Tik Tok, going on a drive with my sister, and baking cookies each night. I remained grateful that my family and I were not directly impacted by COVID but wanted to get out. As a social butterfly, my winged were clipped and I didn’t fare well with isolation. Not being able to see my friends destroyed me. I felt alone again. Alone in my thoughts. And would physically lock myself alone in my room and isolate myself from my family.

    This is where I would like to say my mental health journey truly began.

    Quarantine gave me plenty of time to stand in front of my mirror and psychoanalyze what I did and did not like about myself. This unhealthy habit led to unhealthy behaviors that ultimately led to an eating disorder. I spent a lot of time “covering” my eating disorder as I was so deep, I did not want my family to find out. I felt trapped, both physically and psychologically.

    I returned to college in the fall for my sophomore year. I was ecstatic to be living in my sorority house and back in my college town with my friends. But things felt different. I had lost control of myself and was now one with my eating disorder. With my sorority house under quarantine and my meals delivered in Styrofoam containers three times a day outside my door each day, my eating disorder had taken over and my depression and anxiety heightened. My mental state was at an all-time low. I no longer enjoyed doing the things I loved and spent a lot of time alone in my room. Once again, I found myself covering my feelings with friends and I lived in a dark and lonely place.

    Fast forward to February. First, I started asking my parents if I could stay at a hotel to get some alone time to think and a bit more independence. That did not help me in the slightest. Once a hotel night, or should I say morning, I woke my parents at 2:00 AM to tell them I needed to come home. My parents took this very seriously as they knew how much I loved school and being with my friends. Once I got home, went through another medication adjustment, I started attending IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program). At this point, again my life was a mess. I finally had come clean about my eating disorder and was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa. I felt free knowing that I wasn’t hiding this secret anymore.

    This is when I chose recovery.

    I completed the IOP program and when I returned home that May with little sign of improvement, my family decided it was time for an inpatient program. I attended an intensive residential program in Illinois for 40 days. I am at a loss in describing how hard this was for me. It may be etched in my memory forever but what I do know is that it pushed me to choose recovery instead of falling back into bad habits. I learned new healthy eating habits, had some very helpful candid therapy, and learned how to deal with the things that trigger my anxiety. It was then that I started tapping into all the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) resources provided on Instagram and LinkedIn. I could see that I was part of a larger world with similar challenges. I can’t lie, my experience that summer left me with some bad memories, but I am working hard to replace them with better ones.

    Going back to college my Junior year was rough, with adjustments to medications, but I added an incredibly helpful resource to my life, a DBT coach who instead of focusing on my experiences with anxiety, helped me create a goal-based approach to my therapy. I now focus on what is getting in the way of achieving my goals and work hard to eliminate those barriers. Those DBT skills, IOP, and the inpatient program were now really paying off.

    Looking back now, almost exactly a year after I completed my inpatient journey, I am grateful for all the resources I have been afforded to come to the place I am at today. I do have some bad days, but I am now equipped with the knowledge on how to treat myself during hard times.

    Mental health resources have made me feel less alone in this big world. It is critical to tap into these resources to help you through your own recovery to feel heard and understood.

    Every day I choose recovery. I wake up each morning, and whether it is a good or bad day, I know I never want to return to that dark place. I have a whole great life to live with tremendous hope and inspiration for the future.  I am stronger than my diagnosis. I choose recovery to be able to be the person to guide others out of their dark place and give you light.

    Community Voices

    Scan Weight Loss Products

    Some old family friends are selling scam pyramid scheme weight loss products. One their ads actually had the audacity to claim that using their product could help an E.D. , when in fact we know they make it worse. Taking umbrage at their continuing outrageous claims, I responded to one of their FB posts. So now, my husband is mad at me. I don’t know if I was wrong or right. But I do know that I feel better. Thoughts ?
    #EatingDisorders #Anorexia #Bulimia

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    Community Voices

    Forgive Yourself

    <p>Forgive Yourself</p>
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    Community Voices

    Honest and serious

    <p>Honest and serious</p>
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    Monika Sudakov

    How Victoria’s Secret Reinforced My Eating Disorder and Body Image Issues

    Hulu’s new docuseries “Victoria’s Secret: Angels and Demons” is an elaborate exposé of not just the underbelly of the brand itself, but of the sordid history of Les Wexner, founder and CEO of L Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, and his relationship with the late, convicted sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein. According to the documentary, Epstein, who was made Wexner’s power of attorney from 1991 to 2007, utilized his access to Wexner’s fortune as a means of financing his criminal activities and Victoria’s Secret as a ruse to lure girls into relationships with him under the guise of becoming a model. While this is a fascinating and extremely complex aspect of the documentary, the more relevant theme explored, at least relevant to me personally, is how toxic the environment of Victoria’s Secret was not just for the models, but for consumers of the brand. Models cite a culture of pervasive harassment and abuse, predominantly by Chief Marketing Officer Ed Racek, and pressure to maintain unnatural body standards. And while the messaging of the brand purported to reflect sexually empowered women, behind the scenes the look was very much designed for the male gaze. Female employees consistently reported presenting data-driven trends about the current views of women toward sex and sexuality, but were trumped at every turn by high ranking male executives, favoring increasingly exploitative marketing that pushed the boundaries of soft core porn, modeled after the images in Playboy magazine. The women featured in the catalogs, on the runway, and eventually in online marketing for the brand were selected because of their “perfect” looks, which lacked any kind of diversity or inclusion. Their images were highly curated and severely photoshopped, presenting an unattainable ideal that no average woman could possibly achieve without a severely restricted diet, extreme fitness regime, and plastic surgery. And they were made even more unrealistic through the use of padding and push-up bras, which created the illusion of proportions that simply don’t exist in nature. The rigid physical standards represented by the models translated to the available inventory at their stores. And this is where my ongoing battle with anorexia and body dysmorphia come in. My fixation on my body began at a very young age. I was freakishly young when I began developing boobs. By sixth grade I was a solid “C” cup and continued to grow from there. While most of my peers weren’t even thinking about a training bra, I was already struggling to find a bra that fit my proportions. Kids in my class started calling me Dolly Parton and would snap my bra, humiliating me and reinforcing the fact that something was very wrong with me. The bullying continued outside the classroom and in the dance studio where the constant message was “you need to lose weight” but the subtext was “your boobs are too big.” I’d be subjected to constant weight shaming and comments about how my bouncing boobs were a distraction when I jumped. At one point I even had to wear three Ace bandages to bind myself so I’d appear to be younger than my ample bosom would suggest. It was utterly soul crushing. As you can imagine, bra shopping became a constant source of angst. My ever expanding cup size seemed to defy the laws of nature. My weight continued to dwindle and yet I couldn’t get my breasts to cooperate with the starvation and exercise/bingeing regimen I had adopted. So when I’d attempt to find a bra that fit, it was like searching for a needle in a haystack. I couldn’t just go to Victoria’s Secret like all my friends did and find a cute, lacy push-up bra. They didn’t make them in my cup size. Or if they did have even one bra on hand in my cup size, which was almost never, the bra was padded. The last thing I wanted to do was make my breasts appear even larger than they already were. Going to Victoria’s Secret felt so invalidating. Not only could I not participate in the social ritual of going to the mall and shopping with friends… the store itself and its teeny tiny inventory seemed to sneer at me, rubbing salt into a gaping wound that kept filling up with more and more breast tissue. I was inadequate as a dancer, inadequate as a woman, and felt like a complete freak of nature. I hated my breasts and I hated Victoria’s Secret for making me feel so disgusting. If sexy was what they embodied, I must have been gross. This sense of being a misfit became embedded in my psyche. My weight — and breasts — have fluctuated wildly over the years as my anorexia has come and gone. What hasn’t changed is my disdain for my breasts. If I could have a breast reduction I would. Looking at them in the mirror is like looking in a fun house mirror. Two huge orbs attached to matchstick limbs. I hate them. I’m uncomfortable having them attached to my body. Even with current, more diverse lingerie options, the idea of bra shopping has forever been tainted for me by my early experiences at Victoria’s Secret. I’ve had numerous bra fittings and have spent so much money buying bras that are supposed to fit me perfectly, but no matter how miraculous they say the bra is, it sucks. It’s uncomfortable and I won’t wear it. And I’m embarrassed at how much time I’ve spent in therapy talking about my boobs, bras and my constant dilemma of wanting to learn to love my body as it is while simultaneously feeling betrayed by it. I don’t know what the ultimate solution is, but this documentary certainly triggered this long term- trauma that is embodied by my boobs. I wonder how many other women are out there who suffered from the toxic objectification that Victoria’s Secret represented. I’m sure there are many, as is evidenced by the pressure on the company now to evolve. They have attempted to save face by incorporating models, mannequins, and inventory reflecting humans with breasts of all shapes, sizes, genders, and abilities. But is it too little too late? Maybe. As for me, I suppose I can take some solace in the knowledge that I never financially contributed to a corporation that aided and abetted the sexual exploitation of women and children. I’ll have to settle for that.

    Community Voices

    Feeling helpless

    My daughter has just turned 18 and is still out of control with her anorexia only now she doesn’t want me to attend her sessions so I don’t know how much she still losing.

    I look at her and feel like she’s sleeping away and I don’t know what to do I don’t know how to help her and she doesn’t want my help. I feel such a failed mother Add I can’t lose my little girl

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