Behind The Scenes

August 1, 2010
When your sitting at the lunch table everything seems fine but is everything really alright when that same girl goes into the bathroom after lunch every single day? Or what about that skinny fragile-looking girl who doesn’t eat lunch or even get breakfast and claims she eats at home, even though when you are at her house she still doesn’t eat anything? Or that girl that wears long sleeves and jeans or long pants, even in the hot summer? Do you know what really happens behind the scenes? About 5 to 10 million girls and women and 1 million boys and men in the United States are battling an eating disorder or struggling with self-mutilation. Ninety to ninety-five percent of those who suffer are female, yet they can inhabit males just the same. These bad habits are addicting and can even cause death. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and self-mutilation are all complex illnesses. Images in the media put a lot of pressure on young women and men to reach a certain body shape, one that is next to impossible to reach. “Some teenagers simply have too many balls in the air. They get straight A’s, they’re prom queen, they’re soccer captain, they do charity work, and have a relationship. They can’t function at that high a level all the time.” (From Dr. Rosemary Calderon) Any simple thing can send a person into turmoil.

Self-mutilation is also known as self-abuse, self-injury, and self-harm. Self-mutilation happens in many forms including: scratching, picking scabs, interfering with the body’s healing, burning, punching yourself, infecting yourself, inserting objects into body openings, bruising yourself, pulling hair, and breaking bones. It is defined by experts as the act of intentionally harming your body for emotional relief. People who harm themselves often do it secretly. Self-mutilation is not suicide. Self-injurers do not want to kill themselves and when deaths happen they are often accidents because they have cut into an artery. Many people look down upon self-injurers because they don’t understand the reasons for it. It could be said that they cry from their arms rather then their eyes. They actually cut to relieve pain and to gain control which is hard for most people to understand because it seems as if by cutting they are hurting themselves and losing control, but in reality it makes them feel better to harm themselves.

Bulimia is currently affecting 1 to 3 percent of middle school and high school girls and 1 to 4 percent of college women. People with bulimia are usually of an average weight but feel that they are over-weight. There are two types of bulimia: purging and non-purging. The purging type is when you get rid of food in different ways. Some purge by self-inducing vomit and others use drug. The non-purging way is also called binge. Binging people exercise compulsively to get rid of the extra food and carbs or rely on fasting. Fasting simply means eating a lot one day and then not eating anything for a period of time. Bulimics usually know that there is a problem but try to keep it a secret from others. About 50 percent of those who have bulimia had anorexia first.

Forty percent of newly diagnosed cases of anorexia are in girls and young women ages 15-19. Ten out of every one hundred adolescent girls have struggled with anorexia and one out of every one hundred adolescent boys have struggled with it. Anorexia is more like self starvation because anorexics take pride in their hunger. If anorexia progresses far enough you can lose massive amounts of body weight, enough to even cause death. Young women and men with anorexia are twelve times more likely to die then women and men who don’t have anorexia. Anorexia affects all of the body’s functions. It disturbs the mineral balance and can cause cardiac arrest. They usually deny that there is a problem and have a wider range of mood swings and a quicker temper. Anorexia can happen to people who have low-self esteem and always think they are not a good person or that they are fat. People can also become anorexic if they always strive to be perfect or if they become too over worked and start to worry about simple things like their weight, which actually isn't a problem.

All three of these life threatening disorders revolve around two things: control and feeling good. Self-injurers intentionally harm themselves to 'gain control' and to 'relieve stress'. Bulimics throw up or fast to 'feel good' and to make a 'better body image'. Anorexics starve themselves to 'feel in-control'. All three can damage a person for the rest of their life, but if caught soon enough there will be less damage and it will be easier to get help. No matter how easy it seems to stop and break these habits from your point of view, breaking the cycle and telling someone could be the hardest thing that they will have to ever do. In the eyes of the bulimic, anorexic, and self-abuser, what they are doing is their way of coping with everyday life and stress.

Overall, these problems can turn into an ever bigger life threatening issues. These ways are used to express the words that they are afraid to say or show. It takes times and trust for them to come out and tell someone. They are not bad people, just highly misunderstood. Anorexia, bulimia and self-mutilation are all very complex illnesses and in some cases they are more complex than they seem, but in other cases it is as simple as one person calling them fat or ugly. Everyone has different reasons for it, just like everyone has different views on these people and what they're doing.

There is no right or wrong view, what you believe and what someone else believes can be different, but no matter what, anyone struggling with anorexia, bulimia, and/or self-mutilation, deserves help. In an average middle school classroom 16 out of 24 teens said they know someone who had struggled with an eating disorder or self-mutilation, but only 6 out of the 24 said they themselves have had one of the three. Anorexia, bulimia, and self-mutilation can inhabit anyone and it's your choice what you do. A joking comment of 'you’re fat' or 'you’re ugly' could make someone very upset and make them think that one of these three ways is the only way to make them 'beautiful' or ‘control rumors’. Anyone can have these, and no one is prone. Do you think your life is worth the risk?
Cited Sources
Bjorklund, Ruth. “Eating Disorders” Bench Mark, NY: Marshall Cavendish. 2006 (print)
Espejo, Roman. "Self-Mutilation (Cutting)." Teen Health and Wellness. Rosen, 2010. Web. 26 Jan. 2010. <http://teenhealthandwellness.com/article/294/self-mutilation-cutting>.
Szabo, Ross.ehind Happy Faces. Los Angeles: Volt Press 2007 (print)
Watson, Stephanie. "Anorexia Nervosa." Teen Health and Wellness. Rosen, 2010. Web. 26 Jan. 2010. <http://teenhealthandwellness.com/article/44/anorexia-nervosa>.
Watson, Stephanie. "Bulimia Nervosa." Teen Health and Wellness. Rosen, 2010. Web. 26 Jan. 2010. <http://teenhealthandwellness.com/article/75/bulimia-nervosa>.





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Bethani said...
Sept. 12, 2010 at 5:46 pm
Great research! These statistics are overwhelming. :(
 
Sammyjayx3 replied...
Sept. 16, 2010 at 1:46 pm
Yeah. They are very high. It shocked me too. But try doing a 6 month long project on this. It was hard to write about this from a copletely un-biased opinion. knowing where they come from and like about them would have helped much more(:
 
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