Most of the time, when people think of an eating disorder, they picture extremely thin, or underweight people, which is why this particular eating disorder is so dangerous.
To start with, the reason I chose this topic, was because, ever since January of 2014, I had become interested in learning about mental illnesses, just because it was something I was always interested in researching about. The ones that I know the most about however, are mainly schizophrenia and eating disorders. Another reason I chose this topic, was because I believe that not enough people are aware of the dangers of this disorder, and I’m hoping that by talking about this, that it will spread some sort of awareness.
I think that this issue is important, because half of the time, especially with cases of bulimia, it goes unnoticed. This is also because of what I mentioned earlier; it is harder to spot bulimia, than anorexia or BED (Binge Eating Disorder). Another thing is that this affects people of our age group, since the majority sufferers of bulimia are in their early teens or are young adults.
Bulimia is essentially an eating disorder that involves frequent episodes of binge eating (overeating to a very unhealthy extent), and then purging (to get rid of the food in some way). Purging mainly involves self-induced vomiting, taking laxatives, or frantic exercise, and many other ways. This may sound extreme, but unfortunately it is the case with a lot of people.
This is basically how the ‘binge-purge cycle works: For sufferers of bulimia, their lives are basically made up of the constant desire and obsession to lose weight or stay thin, and therefore the overwhelming need to binge. What normally happens with this cycle is that, bulimics first go on a strict diet which then leads to craving food, which then leads to binging, and then purging to avoid gaining weight. After that, the sufferer will normally feel ashamed or disgusted with themselves. This may come as a shock, but the truth is, that purging does not prevent weight gain (which is also why this disorder goes so easily unnoticed). After the person has consumed an abnormally large amount of calories, their bodies would have already absorbed the majority of them, so when they got rid of the food, it wouldn’t completely get rid of all of it.
There are some causes of this disorder, and a main one that I will be addressing. First of all, the media. The media has so much to do with what young girls and boys are looking up to, and most of it out there, these days, is not realistic, and can completely shatter self esteem and body image. This image would be a perfect example. This has changed my thinking so much about how careful we should be with what we show and act like in front of younger children, because they will follow. This goes out especially to parents, since they might be weight conscious, which is totally okay. But kids should not be exposed to that kind of stuff, since that can lead to harmful behaviour or even an eating disorder such as this one. Also, poor body image, low-self esteem, history of trauma or abuse, and major life changes can also be causes of having bulimia. Another thing is, ‘pro mia/ana’ sites. These are basically websites on the internet (available to anyone) promoting eating disorders. Mia stands for bulimia and ana stands for anorexia. These websites give ‘tips and tricks’ on how to ‘become’ bulimic or anorexic. They can sometimes be popup advertisements, which I have been unfortunate enough to see, and they are absolutely horrendous.
For a person who is binge eating, these signs will most likely be noticed. Lack of control over eating, secrecy over eating and food, eating unusually large amounts of food, disappearance of food, and alternating between overeating, and fasting. Some signs of someone who is purging are, going to the bathroom after meals, using laxatives, smell of vomit, and excessive exercising. These signs are less obvious, but there are some physical ones as well, such as, scars on the knuckles (caused by sticking fingers down throat to induce vomiting), swollen or puffy cheeks caused by throwing up, discoloured teeth, and lastly, frequent fluctuates in weight. People who have bulimia, will mostly likely not be underweight, but will be a normal to slightly over weight.
All in all, I think that even though this disorder is dangerous and scary at times, awareness does need to be spread over it, because it is a genuine and serious issue that needs to be addressed.