1555_MentalHealthHumor  Yo Gabba gabba Foofa sadThis is part 5 of a 6 part blog series. Each post is one part of a complete Mental Health Humor Cartoon.

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NAMI says studies suggest that 1 in 20 people will be affected with food and weight issues at some point in their lives. Ultimately without treatment, eating disorders can take over a person’s life and lead to serious, potentially fatal, medical complications.

Anorexia Nervosa. A person with anorexia will deny themselves food to the point of self-starvation as she obsesses about weight loss. With anorexia, a person will deny hunger and refuse to eat, practice binge eating and purging behaviors or exercise to the point of exhaustion as she attempts to limit, eliminate or “burn” calories.

The emotional symptoms of anorexia include irritability, social withdrawal, lack of mood or emotion, not able to understand the seriousness of the situation, fear of eating in public and obsessions with food and exercise. Often food rituals are developed or whole categories of food are eliminated from the person’s diet, out of fear of being “fat”.

Yo, I grew up with 3 older sisters.  What I am about to say now is something that may not be a stretch of my imagination at all, but I believe one of my sisters dealt with Anorexia Nervosa in her teen years.

I have never really asked her about this. It kind of has been a mute/moot point in our lives…since there was so much messed up and twisted stuff going on.  Growing up in a violent area, having a Father prone to violence and being a disciplinarian with a leather belt, did not help my backside much.  With so much other S#%@ going on in the house, it was easy to see how: IF maybe  my sister had an eating disorder like Anorexia, it could fall through the cracks. There were so many other things 10X worse going on…eating issues would be hard to identify. Even more so, since we did not have much food in the house to begin with. So, how can you be Anorexic if you’re already starving? (Dad was a proud person and rejected the Idea of Food Stamps and welfare.) Needless to say, growing up in the projects, we were one of the only family NOT ON WELFARE.  We were poor among the poorest due to pride, as I see it…I resented my Father for a long time for not getting us help and making us siblings fight over every bit of food.

I think this may have the roots to my own issues with food, and why I emotionally eat?  I believe, if my sister was truly suffering from Anorexia then, this must of also played a part. It could also go hand-in-hand with the depression and anxiety with which she deals.

Food in our house growing up was sparse. There would be days without and even weeks with any real meals. Other than eating at school for breakfast and lunch.  During the week–might be mac & cheese or pasta.  Or PB and J or just bread with whatever we could find in an empty fridge. When we did have food, it was war over who would get it.  So it was feast or famine, as a tween, seeing my sister purging…I never made any connection to any thing wrong; other than a bad meal. (May be it was situational Bulimia?)  It still could of been that bad meal.

My sister always thinks she is fat even now, when, in fact, she was/is perfect weight and size.  She was/is beautiful but she could not see it.  When she was 18, she was always dieting.  I’m not sure if “Anorexia” was THE  THING /new fad diet in the early 80’s as acceptable.  Now it is seen as what it really is: an eating disorder.  I’ve seen the t.v. show about “Anorexia” and it’s scary.  My sister was never that extreme, but the reasoning on food and self-esteem sounded familiar.

I admit, I don’t know much about Anorexia but when you see your sister bingeing when you’re a tween a number times, it’s not hard now to look back and connect the dots… Low-self esteem…depression… irregular heart rhythms… irritability… obsessions with exercise…and bingeing altogether make a case /signs of Anorexia.

I know her self-esteem never recovered much…she dated dead-beat guys.  Always questioning her looks, even though she is gorgeous, beautiful, brilliant woman and most loving sister a guy could have!  I’m lucky because I have three gorgeous, beautiful, brilliant, loving sisters.  While I will always be their younger brother, I love them all very much and I try to share every and anything I’ve learned, over the years of my advocacy, with them.  Some times– they are considered pearls of wisdom, other times ..well, other times, I’m still their younger brother giving younger brother advice and younger brother suggestions…You know the type of advice you just write off because I’m the younger brother!

Now did that “publicly” expose one my sisters as once having Anorexia? Something she may never of had–just based on memories that may be corrupted by years of medication and by my young age. I think, She would not mind this post if she knew that just by talking about this topic that…I think–looked like/pointed to Anorexia now in retrospect…may get others to talk or get help with Anorexia now.

My sister will read this post, she gets around to reading a lot of my posts.  She may text me “CHATO I NEVER HAD “Anorexia” – or She may say “how perceptive I am”… It a 50%/50%!

But what if it was your sister or brother (yes, boys can have Anorexia, too)?  Do you know the signs? What to look for? What the differences are between Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder (BED)?  

 

Chato Stewart

 

∇”NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.”

♥ Mental Health Humor Cartoons by Chato Stewart