Anorexia nervosa or as I like to call her Ana, has been a part of my life for many years. Even before I knew I had Ana she was whispering anything along the lines of “you don’t really need those fries do you?” or “you don’t need to eat you don’t have cheering today”. Little did I know I would be trying to get her thoughts to go for the majority of my adult life. Even when I think I’m free she sneaks back in once in a while to try and make me fall back into her hold. Sadly, no matter how strong I am mentally, she will always be with me in health issues she left me with.
Everyone knows that anorexia nervosa is a mental illness but Even before Ana becomes physically noticeable, she is already breaking down and damaging every system in your body, leaving nothing untouched.
There is no way to sugar coat it. Ana kills. Most of the short term physical symptoms like brittle hair, weight loss, dry skin, blue nail beads, etc. can all be seen and more difficult to ignore. As for the more serious medical problems, they can’t be seen just by looking at someone.
- Brain: actually shrinks in size, due to lack of nutrients the brain literally gets smaller and you actually have a horrible memory, trouble paying attention, and lowered IQ.
- Bones: even before you become physically “anorexic looking” your bones have already began to lose density. This resulting in a majority of people recovering or living with Ana eventually develop osteoporosis in their life time.
- Heart: when you are not taking in any calories/nutrients, your body has less to pump around. This causes your heart rate and blood pressure to both drop, if this trend continues then heart failure is possibly the outcome for a lot of females with/who have Ana.
- Endocrine: Fertility drops when menstruation is disrupted. This could cause life long fertility trouble. Due to hormone levels dropping from lack in electrolytes, nutrients, everything.
- GI: Takes a huge beating, many will experience or live with gastroparesis (which is delayed emptying of the stomach, or complete paralysis of the stomach muscle). Others may experience GERD, ulcers, gastritis and other gi issues.
I know from experience, even if you are in the recovery process, recovered or just diagnosed many of these are irreversible and will be a life long struggle. So if you or someone you know may be struggling with Ana please get the help necessary. The sooner the better chance of reversal. I never thought I would have ended up with an eating disorder, let alone struggles that come from the recovery process and health issues.