Sunday, December 3, 2006

Anorexia nervosa: a life story

I don't even remember since what moment I began to grow thin. What made me take such a thoughtless decision? But the fact remains the same: I did grow thin.

I was 15 then and you probably roll up your eyes and wonder how I could rack my body when it was just growing and forming? To speak the truth, I didn't even think of that. Anorexia nervosa? I didn’t know what that meant. I was not frightened when my menstruation ceased; on the contrary, I was partly pleased, since I could be engaged in fitness constantly. Awfully enough, but then it didn't worry me.

I ate only vegetables and fruits, some dairy products with fat content 0.5-1%, cooked fish and chicken without salt. That was all, really.

In spite of my frugal diet, I went in for sports regularly (5-6 times a week). I read somewhere that in order to grow thin it is necessary to consume carbohydrates not less than 8 hours before training. So I safely refused from fruits during the whole day. I could eat a half-pack of cottage cheese of zero fat content (~35 kcal) a day and do aerobics with full feedback. Now I don’t even understand, where my forces came from. It was not power of will, it was madness leading me to the state where I’m now – anorexia nervosa.

I remember well that New Year night. I was changing my clothes in the bedroom. I stopped suddenly and stood before the mirror. It was for the first time when I noticed the results. A thin girl was standing before the mirror. That girl was me. I liked my reflection very much. I looked like a model. Being 165 cm high my weight was 39 kg.

Now I’m a victim of anorexia nervosa. My friends and relatives don't know what to do with me. Is that the price that I have to pay?

Anorexia nervosa in the beginning

Usually anorexia nervosa begins to develop at early teenage age, but sometimes it can reveal itself for the first time much later - after 30 and even 40 years. Before loss of weight is evident children with anorexia nervosa are described as soft, keen, hardworking, having no signs of psychological frustration. Usually their families are rather successful socially and belong to middle or high social class. As a rule, such children have very good results in school. Quite often they are slightly stout. And because of their coevals' sneers they put on a diet and when they begin to grow thin they deny it.

When exhaustion becomes obvious to relatives they at last call the doctor. The doctor should carry out a careful inspection in order to distinguish true anorexia nervosa from other somatic or mental diseases (such as heavy toxicoses, metabolic infringements or deep psychological infringement of thinking and delirium) in case of which loss of appetite and weight are only secondary symptoms. At this stage patients with anorexia nervosa (in typical cases they are teenage girls) are hostile, depressed, reserved and anxious. They can complain of chilliness and constipations. Laboratory analyses indicate exchange and hormonal shifts characteristic of starvation. In spite of danger connected with refusal from food, patients with anorexia nervosa hardly realize their unhealthy state, they don't want to change their nutritional behaviour and resist any kind of treatment. Astonishing enough, but a sick girl of 173 cm with the weight of only 27 kg still continues to think she's stout.