Posted by: cindy | August 26, 2008

Dying to be Thin

Weight scale & tape measure

Weight scale & tape measure

As soon as school let out for summer break after Lina’s sophomore year, she started dieting. When she went back to school in the fall, she’d lost 35 pounds. She weighed 123 pounds, a normal weight for her 5’5″ small boned body.  But Lina didn’t feel thin enough, and six months later, her weight dropped to 95 pounds. She was hospitalized and diagnosed with anorexia.

During her treatment, she met some other girls with bulimia, so she started binging and purging too. She later dropped out of her treatment program because she didn’t feel she needed the help.

Lina felt most in control of her life when she didn’t eat.  Lina never met her parents and was raised by grand-parents.

When people told her she looked too skinny, she felt empowered to get even skinnier. Then Lina started to lose her friends. Boys mocked her by making vomiting noises when she passed by in the hall.

Once, those boys got to Lina, or got through her.

“I had on a bathing suit, and two guys walked by and said, “OMG, look at that girl-she looks like a walking skeleton,” she said. “I thought I looked so good. It really struck a nerve. I started eating.”

Lina gained weight. Her life became normal. But two years later, Lina’s longtime boyfriend was killed in a car accident.

Lina turned to drugs, then alcohol. She stopped eating. By the time she started starving herself, she was two months into a new relationship. She tried hiding her disorder but her boyfriend was suspicious of something. “My personality was nasty, miserable, and very unhappy,’Lina said.

They never went out with other couples because LIna’s disorder consumed her.
Lina then married and the newly wed couple moved to a larger city to begin their new life together. But Lina’s eating disorder moved in with them.

Crediting her compassionate husband, Lina once again entered treatment. This time they chose a treatment center in Arizona that their insurance would pay for.  After 60 days in treatment, Lina felt like she finally “got it”. She had the tools and skills she needed to fight ED and to separate herself from the disorder. Lina says ” treatment taught me that I am worth more than what I was doing to myself”.

Lina and her husband can now socialize with friends and share dinners in public. Lina says she outgrew her eating disorder. “As I got older,” she said, ” it became a burden, a dirty habit that needed to be broker”.

The trend seems to be true across the country, says Cynthia Bulik, director of the eating disorders program at UNC Chapel Hill. Fifty percent of her patients are over the age of 30, and that number is rising, she says.

Bulik says societal pressure for life-long thinness is prompting many women to develop disorders later in life.  It usually has a devasting effect on their familiies. “Partners are often besides themselves when their wife stops eating,” Bulik said. “They are often so worried about sheltering the kids from this.”

Women who are 30 and older are often more motivated than adolescents to get help, according to Dr.Steven Karp, Medical Director at Rosewood Centers for Eating Disorders in Wickenburg, AZ.“It makes for an interesting population mix in treatment when we combine younger women and older women in treatment. They can learn from eachother and tend to listen more when they aren’t related to eachother.  Group therapy is a powerful treatment tool, it creates a safe environment where the participants can openly share their feelings and emotions”.

To receive an information packet from a Premier Provider of Eating Disorder Treatment that accepts insurance, please comment to this post with your contact information.

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