Behind closed doors
She smoked a chimney, her refusal to eat
Her palm-sized clot was down to its last few beats.
They tell me no but Subconscious whispers yes
Who is lying, my altered mirror or is it the rest?
The final assignment for my Photography module was to come up with a photo essay (7-9 photographs + 300 word essay). I decided to do a photo essay from an awareness aspect- Eating Disorders; particularly bulimia. The girl in the pictures is a good friend of mine (she isn’t dealing with the disorder just to make things clear), so thank you for helping me. Share this if you would like to.
“Many more women than men have bulimia. The disorder is most common in adolescent girls and young women. The affected person is usually aware that her eating pattern is abnormal and may feel fear or guilt with the binge-purge episodes.
The exact cause of bulimia is unknown. Genetic, psychological, trauma, family, society, or cultural factors may play a role. Bulimia is likely due to more than one factor.”
Eating disorders are an invisible healthcare issue here in Singapore. Indeed it is more common in the US; however its existence is practiced here, though oblivious by many. Eating disorders can be caused by various life issues. Media influence tends to be one of the largest reasons why most people succumb into the cycle of the disorder. The insecurity of not feeling good enough or the lack of self confidence adds on to the tyranny. Eating disorders are a mental illness, an addiction and a disease.
Focusing on bulimia: It is labeled as a ‘secret disorder’, as it is not easy to spot a person who is suffering from the illness. Bulimics eat and may even binge on a high amount of calories and they usually do so secretly, when no one is around. This forces them to avoid social situations, because their mind is so preoccupied when they are around food and worse after finishing a meal. However, the need to purge after a meal is an unhealthy habit that brings them a sense of satisfaction and euphoria per say. This soon turns into a routine and before they even realize it, an addiction, where purging no longer becomes a source of losing weight, but a tool of satisfaction and sometimes stress release.
Binges lead to self-disgust, which causes purging to prevent weight gain. Purging may include:
- Forcing yourself to vomit
- Excessive exercise
- Using laxatives, enemas, or diuretics (water pills)
Purging often brings a sense of relief.
People with bulimia are often at a normal weight, but they may see themselves as being overweight. Because the person’s weight is often normal, other people may not notice this eating disorder.
The worst part of it all is when they no longer have control over themselves and purging after eating becomes a lifestyle.
The dangers and effects of constant starvation or purging can lead to many defects and medical complications, when prolonged, even death at a young age. The body does not attain enough nutrients and dizzy spells may occur easily.
Signs and tests
A physical exam may also show:
- Broken blood vessels in the eyes (from the strain of vomiting)
- Dry mouth
- Pouch-like look to the cheeks
- Rashes and pimples
- Small cuts and calluses across the tops of the finger joints from forcing oneself to vomit
- Ruptured stomach or esophagus
- Loss of menstrual periods
- Weakness and dizziness
Eating disorders are a mental illness and the people affected soon lose control over their habits after a period of time. Hence, it is vital to help raise awareness before it is too late for the people who have lost themselves to this unconditional disease.