Sick And Tired This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Thin is sometimes never thin enough. Five percent of all teenage girls and youngwomen in America are bulimic.

"We get a new patient every two weeks,more or less. I've seen the number rising in recent years, probably because ofmore social awareness," commented Judy Norkin, a social worker specializingin eating disorders at Silver Hills Hospital in New Canaan,Connecticut.

Bulimia is the act of binging (eating more than"normal" amounts of food) and then purging (throwing up or usinglaxatives). Bulimics tend to have a distorted body image, low self-esteem, and apreoccupation with food.

Four major warning signs of a bulimic arefrequent weight fluctuations of ten pounds or more, massive consumption ofhigh-calorie foods, repeated attempts to lose weight by severely restrictivedieting or long-term fasting, and awareness that eating patterns areabnormal.

A senior at Norwalk High in Norwalk, Connecticut has beendealing with her bulimia for three years. "It's really hard. Some days I dookay and like myself, but that's rare. Other days ..."

Most Bulimicsare not "into" social groups and gatherings. Instead, they're verysecretive, especially about their behavior. This is one reason why they are hardto identify. Causes of this illness vary greatly from family problems, thetransition from adolescence to adulthood, and even biologicalfactors.

"Bulimia neutralizes the feelings of a person, but itdoesn't solve the problem. Sufferers need to learn to deal with their feelings ina more adaptive way," noted Norkin.

Besides the psychological effectsof bulimia, there are also physical ones. Binging and purging can sometimes causesevere imbalances in the body's system.

The senior with bulimia remarked,"I'm always tired. Mostly sick and tired of having this disease. I thinkabout how I look and what I eat all day. I even dream it some nights. It's veryfrustrating."

Bulimia is a serious disease that needs treatment.There are many places to get help and to recover. Some private therapistsspecialize in eating disorders. There are also OR (Overeaters Anonymous) groupswhich are support groups for recovering individuals.

Norkin concluded,"Treatment is needed. Therapy and family counseling are the main ingredientsto the recovery of these girls. And sometimes even boys."

With timeand care this illness can be cured; however, it is not a quick process. It canlast from two to four or five years.

Bulimia is not a passing phase in ourgeneration. It is a serious disease. More research is needed to find specificcauses and cures. For the time being, though, love and patience, along withtherapy, will help immensely. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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