“Man has a body which is at once his burden and his temptation. He drags it along, and yields to it. He ought to watch over it, to keep it in bounds; to repress it, and to obey it only at the last extremity. It may be wrong to obey even then…” –Victor Hugo.
Pity, she can’t see what we see. Just skin and bones. Cold. Barely breathing. Pity, in her head, she is fat, unlovable and unworthy. Pity, she is controlled by a voice that consumes her, drives her insane, a voice that disguises itself as her friend then kills her.
Eating disorders are the devil. Seriously. The reason they call it a disease is because that is exactly what it is, probably one of the most misunderstood and misconstrued diseases too. Why anyone would willingly starve themselves? At the end of the day, humans are still animals. How can anything be so twisted, so far from nature that it goes against our most basic instincts, the need to eat?
To dismiss it as a vanity issue trivializes it. Only an idiot would glamourize or romanticize slowly starving oneself to death. No romance in a skeletal structure that aches and hurts not just externally and internally but eternally too. A disease that anorexics themselves wouldn’t wish on their worst enemies.
Medically it falls under the category of serious mental illnesses. There are various causes or reasons that lead to the development of anorexia nervosa in individuals. Contrary to popular belief, it affects not just women but men too even though the number of women who suffer from it is much higher. The disease cannot be attributed to a single particular cause as it is way more complex than that. (For more information, Google the causes. Go ahead, do it right now.) What is known though is that for a majority of anorexics, it starts either as a basic or rather universal need to be thin and to fit in or as a need to feel in control. The real issue starts when the person also suffers from a low self-esteem, depression and body dysmorphia, that is when it slowly starts to spiral downwards. Anorexia is a sneaky disease as initially no one really attributes a tiny amount weight loss to a mental illness. It is only when the person really starts to deteriorate physically that others begin to sit up and take notice. Add to this the fact that it isn’t a widely recognized disorder and the fact that many clinics need the patient to be below a certain weight limit to be admitted and you have a recipe for disaster.
Weight loss and starving leads to a change in behaviour, a schizophrenia of sorts. Many anorexics state that they end up feeling like the disease controls them. A disease that enters as their friend and ends up becoming their worst enemy. A voice that drowns out reason. A voice that isolates and cuts them off from their loved ones. It’s their very own dark passenger, impelling them to kill.
Recovery is tough and requires counselling, treatment, dietary help etc. the number of people who end up relapsing and who give in to the voice again is high, but at the same time, there are a lot of people who have managed to defeat it. Managed to quieten and ignore it. It all boils down to whether the individual is willing to get rid of the disorder. There are a lot of forums and websites where sufferers come together to support each other and to make sure that they somehow emerge victorious. I think, that probably was the only light that I saw at the end of the tunnel.
If you think you know someone who is anorexic then be supportive. We never really will understand what they are going through as we haven’t faced the dreadful voice first hand. We can only make sure that they get the help that they need and don’t waste away.
– Bharathi Bala for notsolittlejohnny