Anorexia

ANOREXIA Mental Health Awareness

We must be able to trust our loved ones with our innermost workings and allow
them to help when they can. We can’t be afraid to ask and/or seek help when
needed, professional help if applicable.  – Michael Mele, The Insane Asylum

You are not alone
by the legendary Mavis Staples

Anorexia Presented by
2015 A Star is Born Title Holder
Rebecca Lemke, Lahoma Oklahoma

anorexia
Anorexia written & edited
by Rebecca Lemke, New Crunchy Mom

A lot of people think anorexia develops out of a desire to be thin. They think that the quest to become skinny overtakes the mind and self-control is lost. For some people, that is true. But for others, anorexia digs deep into the mind and plants roots for reasons you would never think of, eventually growing to the surface and taking hold.

For me, it is the latter.

The details of the disorder of my mind are fussy to many, the whens and whys have escaped the knowledge of friends and family for a long time. My mother would tell you that it all began during a conversation at a summer camp I attended. She would say that the girls comparing height and weight upset me, because I weighed the same as a much thinner and taller girl. This isn’t true.

I never worried about my weight as a child, I was naturally pretty thin up until junior high. It is a bit surprising to me because I always heard comments about weight, they were usually self-deprecating comments made by friends or family. Perhaps my subconscious picked up on them, but I never actively paid any attention to my weight, or conversations about weight, at that age.

Rebecca Lemke New Crunch Mom
Rebecca Lemke

My best friend might tell you when she began to suspect something was wrong, and my cousins would tell you they knew by the time I lost a few pounds. No matter how many people noticed, not one could tell you the exact moment anorexia took over, or why.

But I can.

The seeds were planted through several things that you might not expect, like purity culturemodesty teachings and varying types of abuse.

The compounding factors led to a pressure cooker of mental instability and one conclusion…
No matter how hard I fought, my body was not my own. 
 

I had no privacy when it came to my body, what I wore was dictated to me in the form of “don’ts” and when I said “no” it held no weight. The weight of things like whether or not I had sex and when being public information and what I wore potentially making or breaking a man’s spiritual walk were heavy burdens for me to bear.

I couldn’t expect respect or privacy, I couldn’t control my clothing, and I certainly couldn’t control who did and didn’t touch me.

There was one thing I could control: food.

Anorexia, at least in the beginning, was not about being thin or skinny. It was a desperate lunge for control over my life and my body. It was a plea for space, for someone to listen to me and to make the madness that surrounded me cease. It was safe, something I could do without fear of being used, manipulated, or hurting others.

At first, it wasn’t so bad. I lost a few pounds and felt a rush of freedom. Finally, I had control. Even if no one else would listen to me, my body would. I kept going, losing more and more weight until I found myself growing white fuzzy hair all over my body and chilling constantly.

Anorexia Rebecca Lemke

“Just a little more!” I thought to myself. Then I would be done, and I would be happy.

I learned that you can simultaneously have both too much and not enough self-control. I began experiencing shortness of breath and strange heartbeats, but that didn’t stop me.

I didn’t stop until my body physically stopped me. I began passing out and was no longer able to hide the fact that my bones were showing in places they shouldn’t. I gained just enough weight back to be uncomfortable, but safe from prying eyes.

The symptoms eventually subsided after I removed myself from being taught that my body was there for everyone else to use and dictate things to. My husband nursed me back to health one raisin at a time and I began counseling as well. The journey to recovery has been difficult because of how many things influenced my anorexia, but the choice to get well is my own, along with the loving support of my husband.

I know now that restricting my food was just another way to allow other people to control my life, and I’m done with that. I still struggle with the roots of my anorexia, because many of the things I was taught, like modesty and chastity, were good things. Recognizing the misapplication and manipulation of the real context of these things is what sets me free from the oppressive grasp of the legalism that bound my mind, body and soul to the disease that is anorexia.

New Crunchy Mom


Mental Health Awareness 

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28 comments on “ANOREXIA Mental Health Awareness

  1. Hi. I just spotted this post and was moved by your story. Well written and hopefully, read by some of the people who don’t have any understanding of the illness.
    I have struggled with it for 10 years now and it has taken my career, my friendships, my chances at relationships and kids, my bone health and much of my day to day joyfulness.
    I write here if you’re interested in a glance…?
    http://www.beautyfromthefire.wordpress.com

    Sending much warmth

    firefly

  2. That was beautifully written yet still painful to read. I am glad you shared your story. Roots, those roots are what people barely acknowledge, yet they keep that shame to themselves because it’s at those same roots where they were taught very belief. I have this book called “Compassion and Self Hate” I still struggle with self hate but I don’t tell myself I hate myself anymore. My roots taught me self hate. Everything I was, everything I wanted to be, every time I felt sad or confused or needed a hug. I was greeted by hate, one way or the other. Whether it was emotional abandonment to downright screaming at me if I cried if I had any feelings. It was shame. I was shame. So I was hate. I associated myself with wanting to be anything other than.. I still work on the compassion part. I want to look at who I see and love that girl but sometimes I still hate and I still see shame. I understand to about the control thing and even though you said nothing and you knew you needed help you had dictated one part of yourself that nobody else could. Control is very hard to let go of. I always tried to fix everyone knowing it was out of my control. I would always think if they’d only get it! if they only understood! That never happened. I stopped trying to fix everyone because those were the very people who broke me. Thanks again for sharing that.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Frantic Living! That sounds like an interesting book, I will have to look into it! This especially resonates with me: “I stopped trying to fix everyone because those were the very people who broke me.” That has been a decision I’ve come to myself recently as well.

      Blessings! ❤

      Rebecca "New Crunchy Mom"

  3. Awesome piece my friend. Thank you so very much for sharing a little piece of yourself with us, very brave to say the least.

  4. Thank you Rebecca! This is a courageous post, rich with insight. Many people with anorexia can’t let themselves know that they are dying to be in control of their own lives.

    You’ve taken a quite a journey. You accomplished much…and you still have a lifetime ahead of you…

  5. Beautiful. I haven’t being touched personally by it, but I did, anyway, since I was 9. I’m now 25. My sister, she lived with anorexia on her shoulders since she was 10 years old; now she’s 32. She almost died. After so many years, She (ana. As I call her) destroy the peace of her and us too. And I get pissed off when teenager says, “I’m anorexic I want to be skinny” because that is just a tiny drop of a huge ocean of grief. Your post, filled my soul. I wish you all the best, you are amazing, don’t give up, I see an amazing girl. X

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your sister, crownless26! 😦 Mental illness can be so hard on family members. I understand that frustration with flippant uses of the word, I’ve encountered that too, and educated people who have done that. Thank you so much, your comment is so encouraging! ❤

  6. What a beautiful blog. So open and honest. I hope you find sharing healing. (I controlled my food intake when I was in public but would eat mounds of spaghetti in private. It really is a complicated situation to be in and I feared death, knowing it would not matter if I died to anyone, so I ate, hidden from judging eyes. Besides I would have been blamed for bringing shame to my family, a feeling strong enough to keep me on the teeter totter.)

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