You have 4 free member-only stories remaining for the month. Subscribe now for unlimited access

How I Survived The Deadliest Mental Illness

Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by the fear of gaining weight, and by a distorted perception of the body that makes people who suffer from it, think they’re overweight even when their weight is way below the recommended.

In order not to gain weight, they eat Kleenex, chew ice, swallow cotton. They also induce vomiting, use laxatives, and starve themselves. Dubbed the deadliest mental illness, nothing comes close to the death rate of its sufferers. Harrowing statistics for anorexia nervosa leave a person with shivers. The effect it has on the body, shrinking the heart, even when a person starts the refeeding process, risk of a heart attack is highly likely, due to the weakened heart unable to handle the increase in blood blow when refeeding.

Eating disorders like his and bulimia threaten the very fabric of society, we women between the ages of 16 and 25 years are incredibly at risk from developing eating disorders. It is any wonder? When all we are bombarded with are images of stick-think women who themselves have eating disorders, or photoshopped, manipulated, warped images of ‘perfect’ women, when we compare ourselves to them, our hearts sink, and we hear the niggling voice in our heads, just skip a meal, or try an appetite suppressor. And little by little these little habits, spread out and seemingly innocuous, slowly but surely warps into a full-blown eating disorder.

Body Image And Anorexia

Body image is the mental representation that someone has of their own body based on the person’s own experience with the environment and the perceived perception of others around them. There are two key concepts: dissatisfaction with the body image and the distortion of the main image. The first is when you imagine yourself as you are, which is how most people see themselves, as they are, without distortion. Now, this doesn’t mean everyone that doesn’t have an eating disorder thinks they’re models, it just means that their image of themself is grounded in reality. Those of us with an eating disorder, The other concept — which is a pathological illness — have a distorted body image, that is, they look different than they are to themselves, perhaps they’re a little overweight, yet they feel they’re monstrous in size, perhaps they’re incredibly overweight, yet they feel that they’re healthy.

A huge factor in our days and age, that has taken on enormous importance in the subject of anorexia and body image, is social networks: the role they play with this growing trend of feeling unsatisfied with one’s appearance. Instagram being the number one culprit, having the most harmful effect on your own perception. It should be clarified that these platforms are one more triggering factor but not the cause. This is where the interaction between genes and risk plays out, the ideal setting for them to be activated and expressed. But reducing the amount of time we use social media has shown to lower the risk a person faces from a warped body image, and the dissatisfaction that comes with it.

Do I Have An Eating Disorder?

The cause of anorexia is multifactorial, but it should be noted that psychologists and specialists point out that a common variable is a sociocultural pressure, which can be exerted through the media, family, school or work colleagues.

In other words, external factors multiply and trigger internal predisposing factors to these diseases, allowing for the development of anorexia.

It has been found that among the most common causes, in addition to social pressure, are:

Death or illness of a loved one.

Parents’ divorce.

School failures.

Accidents or traumatic events.

Symptoms of anorexia

Refusal to maintain body weight above the minimum appropriate for age and height.

Fear of weight gain and even excessive concern about the caloric composition of food even when the weight is below what is recommended.

Distorted perception of the body, its weight and its proportions, accompanied by an obsession with images, the scale, studies and sports.

In the case of women, there may be consequences such as the absence of three consecutive menstrual cycles (amenorrhea), constipation, abdominal pain or vomiting.

To these symptoms are added other typical traits such as irritability, depression and emotional or personality disorders.

The Testimony Of A Survivor

42 years old Ainhoa Iraeta from Aragon, Spain, is a living proof that communication and asking for help is essential to overcome mental illnesses and that with support and attention, anything is possible.

She remembers suffering from eating disorders from an early age.

Until avery old age, I have not been able to learn to make an effort in the things they said to me in order to change or be better. Now I see it differently. Today with the psychologist I have enjoyed. Apart from the fact that she has known me since I was a child, we share things. I count, but I also listen. It is something very beautiful.

Says this patient who has learned to live with anorexia.

Her disorder began at age 14, when she was diagnosed with a mental illness that has made it difficult for her to lead a normal life.

When I left gymnastics I began to gain weight. I did not leave the house because I did not like my body and my mother encouraged me to go on a diet with a specialist. I did it, I lost 15 kilos and that’s where it all began. I was afraid of gaining weight again because I lost confidence in myself. Soon I realized that the actions, the thoughts that I had were those of an anorexic. I thought I was controlling it, but there came a time when the disorder controlled me. I had a really bad time,” she said.

During her adolescence and early adulthood, Ainhoa ​​managed to maintain a balance between her mental illness and a (relatively) normal life, but soon anorexia would change her life in every way.

At the age of 25, I entered a psychiatric centre because I needed help to gain weight. I was at a very high level of malnutrition. They had to feed me through a gastric tube and slowly I started to gain weight.”

Today, thanks to medical care, her family and closest friends, Ainhoa can relate this as a story from the past. She hopes that it helps people who are experiencing something similar, especially young girls, and wants them to know that you can always get ahead and no one is really alone.

It’s Ok To Ask For Help

When you have two or more symptoms of anorexia, it is likely that you may suffer from this disease, for which you should go to the doctor immediately and in case the malnutrition is very serious, enter a specialized clinic.

Perhaps it’s not you going through this, but someone close to you is. Especially when we talk about young people. They are at an age where external approval is very important in their lives and when they do not feel as accepted as they would like, they need the support of the people around them. So check up on them every now and again, give them a self-confidence boost, tell them something you like about the way they look. Who knows how many thoughts of negativity that could wipeout.

Want To Support Us?

You can clap for this story, tell a friend about it, buy us a coffee on Ko-fi, check us out on Vocal, or all of the above! It all helps!

Want Even More?

Grab the latest updates from Mindsmatter. Exclusive stories, mental health resources, and more!

Click here to join the newsletter!

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in Non-Fiction