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Mental health causes suffering

September 26, 2010

Photo by Skye Butler

By Amanda Noonan, Guest Writer

Generally, when people think of mental illnesses, they nonchalantly put a face to the term.

They imagine a girl who is dressed in black, wearing bracelets to cover the cut marks. They picture a man bound up by a straitjacket. The truth is that mental illnesses are no light matter. They deserve more attention than jokingly calling someone an “emo.” These are deceitful, binding their victims in a downward spiral of wars which run deeper than the physical manifestations of black clothes and strait jackets. They are jungles of frustration, for the ones who are sick. And, their loved ones wonder why it is happening and desperately long for their recovery.

I am no stranger to mental illnesses. When I was fourteen, I began making myself throw up. I didn’t know that I was developing a disease. I just knew that I had physically developed much faster than other girls my age and that purging made me feel more beautiful. There is nothing beautiful about what I was doing. Some nickname this sickness, “Mia,” while some call it the “dirty little secret.” My parents called it the “throwing up problem.”

The medical name for this disease is Bulimia Nervosa. It is an eating disorder, characterized by excessive eating and self-induced vomiting. My eating disorder plagued me for several years. When I initially made the choice to throw up, it would lead me into a six-month period of nonstop purging. I consumed large amounts of food at one time and threw up so much that blood came with the vomit.

Eventually, with the help of parents, friends, psychologist and God I realized that what I was doing was wrong. In ninth grade I began to recover; however, my eating disorder damaged my self-esteem so badly that I began to express my feelings through drinking, unhealthy friendships and lustful actions. After I realized that this lifestyle was unhealthy, I turned back to Bulimia when I was 16, plunging back into the vicious cycle. My junior year and senior years in high school, I stopped throwing up but was severely depressed. I was torn between wanting to purge and knowing that it was wrong.

I was depressed, because I just wanted the torturous thoughts to end and thought that they never would. I am one of many whom have suffered from eating disorders. According to the South Carolina Department of Mental Health approximately 8 million Americans have an eating disorder—seven million women and one million men. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses. Only one out of ten receive treatment and many do not get adequate treatment. Approximately 80% of women do not get the intense treatment needed to stay recovered.

While I am one of several million who has suffered from an eating disorder, I am also one who has recovered. Something beautiful has come from my war.

I am a happier, stronger, wiser and healthier because of what I went through. If you are someone who is facing a mental illness, know that while they are difficult to face, you can look them straight in the eye. It is certainly not easy, but it is those challenging times that turn you into a whole person. With the right help, you can fight them. When you want to give up the battle, remember why you held on. Recovery happens, one day and one positive attitude at a time.

  1. cutiepie19882000
    September 27, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Wonderful article! I know that had to take a lot of courage!

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