Anorexia & Bulimia
The United States is a fat-phobic society, and from an early age, girls are taught to believe that thin is better. The famous writer and theater critic Dorothy Parker once said "no woman can be too rich or too thin," a catchphrase that is still referred to today. Many people associate fat with ugliness and failure. Advertisements feature thinner-than-normal models that are often more than 15% below the expected weight for their height and age, a criterion for anorexia according to the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition).
Social pressure to stay unhealthfully thin is a primary cause of anorexia and bulimia. The clinical course of these disorders usually begins with self-dissatisfaction.
Many healthy children of normal weight are concerned about their weight and are afraid becoming too fat. An increasing number of girls who have not reached puberty are showing signs of anorexia. In one study, 45% of third through sixth graders said they wanted to be thinner, 40% of them had tried to lose weight, and 7% of them scored in the high risk range on an "eating attitude" test that detects or predicts eating disorders.
I was diagnosed with Anorexia and Bulimia when I was 21 years old. However, I had been concealing the illness for over 8 years prior. At the age of twenty-one I was hospitalized in California in one of their first eating disorder units. The doctors promised me no success rate at that time. Many of the girls in the unit dies of heart attacks or starvation during or later in life. I was then at the 6% percentile. I went from 60 lbs at 21 to always hovering around 90 lbs.
The illness continued to plague me until recently. Over the last year I am at a "whopping" 110 lbs. I attribute a lot of it to my Bikram Yoga classes with Bonnie K. in Tucson. I had heard that Yoga had been known to have positive affects on people with eating disorders. I only wish I would have started long ago - but I was most likely not ready then.
The classes at first were very difficult for me to stare at myself in the mirror - body image being at stake. But I have come to listen to my Yoga instructors' gentle and firm coaching to love myself more - to be forgiving - to persevere in a healthy way. I still have days and moments that are difficult but I don't go to the place of hurting myself anymore. How? I experience the upset, feelings of control, and then breathe. I'm indebted for this. My life has blossomed beautifully with my loved ones. I have always been extremely successful by worldly standards but not by a healthy glow, body shape, an aura of happiness. Thank you, Bikram, thank you Bonnie Kuykendall.