Anorexia is characterized by an unwarranted fear of being overweight. A person suffering from anorexia engages in behaviors aimed at maintaining a less than ideal weight, such as self starvation and/or other compensatory behaviors.
A few characteristics of Anorexia
Restriction of food intake leading to low body weight
intense fear of weight gain
persistent behavior that interferes with weight gain despite being at an already low weight.
disturbance in the way one experiences their body (feeling "fat" when at a low weight)
allowing body weight and shape to determine self worth, self esteem, mood.
persistent lack of recognition of the seriousness of low weight
The reality of Anorexia.
Anorexia is completely different for everyone, while the below vignette may hit home for some, it might be completely off for others. An assessment is the best way to know what you are dealing with.
Do you waste too much time obsessing about food, weight and body image?
Do you scrutinize your body in the mirror every time you use the restroom? Do you stand on a scale to determine your self worth before you start the day? Maybe you don’t weigh yourself often but the number on the scale still throws you into a tailspin?
Do you think about food more than you think about your spouse? Or maybe you don’t have a spouse because they’d have to accommodate your ridiculous exercise routine and who the heck has time for all of that? Or you’d have to wait for them to get to bed at night before you could truly enjoy your food. Because somehow you've come to the conclusion that eating is shameful. Or maybe you are hiding because you have narrowed down your list of "safe foods" to be so minimal that you are now mixing together what other people might deem "gross" combinations of foods, in an attempt to create something...anything that might fill you up.
When you do eat, you keep a running tally of your consumption because your body can't be trusted. If I asked you to come over for dinner tonight you'd panic, you'd come up with some excuse to bail, best case, you'd surrender and just plan your whole day around it. You'd skip some other meal to make it work and if and when you did show up at the restaurant you'd still be limited to maybe 3 things on the menu.
Perhaps you love cooking. Watching Food Network is your guilty pleasure, yet the idea of actually consuming the food and allowing it to nourish your body is enough to send you running for the hills? In fact, you take comfort in watching others eat because let's face it, as long as they keep eating you'll have a better chance of being the smallest one in the room.
And then there are all of the wonderful magic pills, the detoxes, the teas and other weird and sometimes torturous remedies you've tried in an attempt to shed enough weight to stop the obsessing. People tell you that you are thin, yet you still maintain the diet chaos for fear of gaining weight overnight. You can't stop obsessing.
Let's get serious.
At the end of the day you're headed up shit creek without a paddle.
Anorexia Nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
The sad thing is, those that want help often don't believe they are sick enough to warrant treatment. Even scarier, anorexia is often missed. Sometimes even praised by loved ones or promoted on social media and store shelves.
It doesn't matter where you are on the eating disorder spectrum. You don't need to be a toothpick to ask for help.