January 5th, 2006

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08:43 pm - on bulimia and anorexia...

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on bulimia and anorexia... - graffiti.maverick — LiveJournal

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[User Picture]From: sundaygray Date: January 6th, 2006 - 02:08 pm (Link)
So, I do have some experience with this. I have OCD, mostly controlled by medication, and my stepsister has an eating disorder that she still struggles with. The two are definitely related according to psychologists. Both are about exerting control in a way that you *can* do so, to cope with a situation (or situations) in which you can't. To choose a particularly dramatic scenario for purposes of illustration: you're a female only child in a two-parent family. Dad's an alcoholic. Dad beats up Mom. You can't stand watching it and he says he'll beat you up too if you say anything. You can't sleep at night because of it. You're doing poorly in school because of it. You feel things slipping away from you but you don't know what to do about it. Maybe you start with some unusual food behaviors, like only eating exactly half of your meal or only eating things in a certain order or extremely meticulous calorie counting (that piece of gum has 10 cals but the sugar free kind has 1, etc). All of this happens with little to no conscious choice in the matter. It just suddenly seems like a good idea. The control on some level is comforting, but on another level it is wounding you.

I don't think it's about vanity although some people with eating disorders start off by being (maybe overly??) concerned about how they look.... but the looks-part of it is just a thing to hang your obsessiveness on. When I read your post I was actually surprised that Ms. Lohan was able to take a step back and say she was "appalled at how disgusting she looks." Since we only know about her story through sound bites, it's hard to fill in the rest. One can be appalled at themselves, but not able to stop. What are you supposed to say to the camera, "No, I still think I look too heavy." "I know I'm hurting myself but I can't refrain from it."

It makes me a little uncomfortable that some people assume that one can just "go back" to being a certain way or "how did they let themselves go" etc. One might compare an eating disorder to alcoholism, or to OCD. You can't just tell an alcoholic to just stop drinking or someone with OCD to just stop doing ritual behaviors. There's underlying psychological causes which need to be dealt with before the disorder can be managed and the person can return to being healthy.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 6th, 2006 - 04:42 pm (Link)
so taking your issues in order:

1) Yeah, I get the control thing. That's what I said, its got to be more than just "being sexy," but the thing is, I get how that turns into anorexia. Maybe its just that I don't have the disease, but somehow the jump to bulimia just doesn't seem obvious to me. I thought I was making that clear but it doesn't look like I was. That's the big mystery to me. I get how someone might say "No one can make me eat. I can be as skinny as I want." I even get cutting. Or doing drugs or what not. I don't get "I'm going to eat, and then throw up." It just doesn't seem like control to me. I was hoping someone could explain that. I mean, obviously I'm never going to totally understand, but I was hoping someone could at least put me on the right track.

2) That's my other big issue. If I accept what Lindsay said about "not being able to see herself for what she had become." Then I have a hard time believing she just overnight got it just from Lorne saying something. I mean, I guess that's what interventions are for, but I don't see how it works. But to be fair, I wasn't there. I'm reading a Vanity Fair article. So maybe it took weeks and not just a paragraph, you know what I mean? Also, I don't really know how long it was before she saw the episode. Maybe it was weeks into her recovery and that's why she was appalled.

3) I don't think she did just "go back" to being normal. Looking at the bikini cover she did for the new issue of Vanity Fair, she's certainly not back to where she was weight-wise, but she's definitely looking better than she does in that red dress. And that's just physical. Personality-wise she reads differently in this interview than she has before. So I'm sure there has been a lot of change for her.
[User Picture]From: sundaygray Date: January 6th, 2006 - 04:58 pm (Link)
So, I don't know as much about bulimia as I do about anorexia.... but I'm actually surprised that she lost all that weight from being just bulimic. What little I experience I have with bulimics is that the weight loss is slower, less drastic.... but I can't generalize that to a whole population really. Sometimes anorexia and bulimia work together. They are still both about an attempt to regain control. Binge-purge just works it differently. Think of it as peak and trough. The desire for food is overwhelming, but then there's guilt for having consumed so much. I don't know. These are just my ideas based on the people I've talked to (spend enough time in the hospital and you get to talk to everyone).

I'm sure there's actual first person accounts out there of what it is like to have this disease. If you are genuinely mystified/curious as to how it works, maybe you should research it further. One interview with a prominent media personality isn't going to yield very much actual information. Firstly, she's going to edit herself, because she knows what she's saying will be read by zillions of people. Secondly, the interviewer/writer is going to edit her to spin the piece a certain way or to get so many column-inches from it.

I'm sorry if this reply is hurried. My cab is coming any minute now. If you reply to this message and I don't respond, it is because I'll be out of town until late Sunday night and my internet access is questionable.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 6th, 2006 - 06:15 pm (Link)
point well taken on the editting of the celebrity. And I was specifically trying to take that into account. But the only information I can go on is the information I have. So that's what I was addressing. I also have to believe that any real person who was suffering from the problem (or any problem really) would probably do similar editting. That's fair. But still, I like hearing what people have to say.

I am curious, definitely. But I don't know that I am research curious. As with everything else I talk about here, I'm actually a lot more interested in what "my readers" think than specific real data. I can't really explain why that is. I'm certainly not trying to publish a factual paper or anything. Its more like connecting with the audience or something. I dunno. Over the past several years of blogging, I've become quite fond of the process of ranting on my thoughts and hearing the feedback. Someong get me a HOVA-damn newspaper column. *sigh*

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