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JLeslie's avatar

About Anorexia and related illness: do you remember the first time you heard about it?

Asked by JLeslie (47071 points ) December 24th, 2012

I remember watching a movie and one of the characters was anorexic. I was very young, maybe 10, and it was confusing to me. I didn’t understand not eating on purpose. The character was an adult person, so I didn’t really identify in any way with her. A few years later I saw a movie about a teenager who was more of a bulimic, she did watch what she ate, but also would make herself throw-up and did excessive amounts of exercise, also binged sometimes. I still found that rather odd and too much work.

Anyway, I was wondering if those of you who were anorexic or bulimic at a young age, if it popped into your head to do some of these things, and later you found out there was a name for it? Or, if you saw a movie or maybe a friend told you about how people do it, and then you started to do it?

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15 Answers

cookieman's avatar

I’ve never been anorexic or bulimic, but my father’s friend was. I was about thirteen when I first heard about it.

My father and his buddies all had nicknames for each other. My father was “mouse”, this other guy was “whale”. You can imagine why.

Anyway, few years later he’s disappeared from the group only to resurface as an avid jogger, 100lbs. thinner, and (as they soon learned) an anorexic.

I heard he really struggled with is at one point and almost died. I think he’s okay now.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t remember the FIRST time I heard about it…but I do remember worrying that my younger sister was become anorexic when she was about 17….that would have made me 20.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

In the mid 1960’s working at a psychiatric hospital. There three young ladies that were being treated. The hospital had about 350 patients.

ragingloli's avatar

The first time I saw it, I thought “Dayum, those girls are HOT!”

Kardamom's avatar

When I was in elementary school, the smartest and nicest girl, who was also very pretty, was also pleasantly plump. Everybody liked her. When I got into Jr. High School, a much bigger school, I lost touch with most of my elementary school chums and felt a little lost without them. So I didn’t see this young lady for several years. When I was in 10th grade, I heard she had almost died and had been hospitalized several times for anorexia. I bumped into her Mom, who used to volunteer at our elementary school when I was going there, around this time and she told me what happened. I actually saw her at an event with her Mom about a year later, she looked completely skeletal, nothing like the robust young girl I had known. I have no idea what happened to her since then. I lost touch with all of my elementary school friends after we moved in the late 80’s. Interestingly, this young lady volunteered as a candy striper at one of our local hospitals, while she was in high school and going through this illness, and I knew she had planned to become a nurse. I don’t know if she ever did, but I sure hope so.

While I was in Jr. High, there were a few girls who were clearly anorexic. It was very sad.

DominicX's avatar

I remember an anorexic woman in my neighborhood who was always biking; she was wire-thin and never stopped exercising. It was well-known that she was anorexic and I remember my mom explaining it to me and my sister; I don’t remember the age, but probably around 10–11.

gondwanalon's avatar

The first time that I heard about anorexia was in 1979. I worked in a medical center lab. I was sent to draw blood on a 30 year old anorexic woman in the ICU. She was very bad off and looked more like she was 60 years old. I’ll never forget the look in her eyes that seemed to say “please help me”. She died a couple days later.

bkcunningham's avatar

I was in high school. Maybe ninth grade. I remember saying to my mom, “I would like to get that.” She was very upset and told me that it was a very serious condition . I think we had read about it in a magazine. Years later, one of my sister-in-laws was throwing up to lose weight. It was a pretty stressful time for all of us. She was not full blown but she was flirting around the edges. Lots of peer pressure.

Mariah's avatar

I was in elementary school, couldn’t put a finger on what age. I was reading a book aimed at young girls whose title was ”[girl’s name]‘s terrible secret” or something like that, and the secret was that a character was anorexic. I remember scoffing and telling my sister, “I thought this book would be so exciting, but the so-called terrible secret is that a girl is on a diet.” My sister explained to me that anorexia was more than just a diet and I started to understand.

I have to admit I didn’t take kindly to the idea of anorexia for awhile. I did not understand mental illness and truly believed anorexic people could stop at any time; they were doing it to themselves. I also thought it was mainly done for attention, mainly because a whole rash of girls in middle school were suddenly ‘anorexic’ and it caused all sorts of drama and pity to be showered upon them and I was very cynical about their motives. I still believe that probably not all of those girls were ‘honestly’ anorexic, although perhaps that is very narrow-minded of me.

muppetish's avatar

I can’t remember if it was my later years in elementary school (fourth and fifth grade) or in middle school. I don’t recall learning about it through media, but I do remember hearing kids in the hall gossiping about so-and-so being anorexic. I don’t remember who or what explained what that meant to me, though.

I’ve had a few friends who have suffered from body-conscious issues. Each case makes me sad.

Leanne1986's avatar

My mother suffered with anorexia throughout my childhood, I grew up with it. It controlled her life for about 30 years (she was a very competitive gymnast from a very young age and retired at 19 due to injury, I believe this was when it started as she couldn’t exercise as much as she was used to due to her injuries and so became obsessive about her weight). After years of illness my brother and I became immune to her problems and it was almost expected that she wouldn’t see old bones, I hate to say it but I think I lost sympathy, I almost stopped caring about whether she ate or not. After years of worrying, watching her every move around meal times etc I lost the energy to care.

In her mid 40’s something changed and she started to get well again. She was careful with what she ate but she was eating. Then she means married her current husband and you wouldn’t know she was ever ill apart from a few health problems that years of lack of decent nutrition will do to you (she has a mild form of osteoporosis for example). I am sure she still battles with her control issues when it comes to food but she is definitely healthier.

stardust's avatar

I remember being body conscious from a very young age. Even though I was lanky, for want of a better word, I thought my thighs were fat and I tried to control that through restricting my food intake. I had no idea what anorexia or bulimia was until I was in my teenage years. It was at that point that I started to see movies and books on the topic. So, in my case, the controlling methods came long before I had any understanding of what anorexia or bulimia was.
To this day, I have relapses and while I’m very healthy now, I still struggle with the control issues inwardly. I’ve come a long, long way though.

JLeslie's avatar

@stardust Is the control issue you speaj of onoy about your weight? Or, wanting control in all aspects of life? When your life feels most out of control do you turn to food to feel control at least somewhere?

stardust's avatar

It’s about wanting control in all aspects of my life. In the past, I’ve dealt with difficult situations (emotional ones) by controlling what I eat, etc. It used to happen so naturally. It was my coping mechanism. The high I got from being in control (naturally, I wasn’t in control at all – not in any real sense of the word) felt wonderful.
That’s exactly it for me – if other aspects of my life are chaotic, at least I can control what goes in and out of my body.

JLeslie's avatar

@stardust Interesting. I have always read and seen on movies it is a control thing, or for some teens not wanting to grow up. I am trying to figure out what I do to try to feel in control when I feel very out of control? I have no idea. The most out of control I have felt led to my having some ongoing anxiety for several years in my past.

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