Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I have a heavy heart today.  Someone who I was once close to, someone who was only 25 years old, someone with a two year old daughter, died yesterday.  I had grown out of closeness to this young woman, and she moved away from the area for awhile, but she was back the past three years, and although I haven't seen her, I still see her family, and my youngest daughter is very close to her family,  (She visits them for weekends a few times a year.  The last time was just this past weekend in which she babysat the two year old extensively.)

I don't know the cause of death for sure at this point, and I don't feel at liberty to discuss details, but I do know this woman had faced more than her fair share of struggles in her short life and that she was suffering from acute anorexia nervosa.  The temps and humidity in her city were also at record highs.  I know her family loved her a lot, and that she has been in and out of treatment.  I am not even sure why I am writing except for the reason that I am so sad, and I have felt a need to share in a greater context, and today, I thought that this might be the place.

I have been touched a lot by death this year, particularly a couple of deaths that seemed especially tragic, unexpected, just shocking.  This is one of those.  I know people die from anorexia.  I know it is a dangerous mental illness.  It has just never struck so close to myself before.

Eating disorders and body image and prejudice against people based on their looks are things that I am passionate about.  You have a body.  It is your body.  Treat it the best way you know how and are able to.

I know that anorexia nervosa is a more complicated disease than that though.  At some point, it switches from a body image problem to a compulsivity that feeds itself.  You don't eat enough, and your mental health declines from the not eating, making it more difficult to make good decisions.  On top of this, many people with anorexia have intense rule following urges that make being flexible or spontaneous extremely uncomfortable due to anxiety.  I do not have anorexia, but I do have those personality quirks that can lead to anorexic thinking.  I have passed them onto at least three of my kids, and I get so scared for them sometimes.

As you all know, I am not good at endings.


Lesley said...

I'm so sorry. I look forward to the day when body image is a non-issue and seeking help and healing for mental health issues no longer carries a stigma. So many lives not only lost, but darkened by the messages of "not okay".

Much love to you and your family (as always) and to the family of your friend.

Alissa said...

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