Let's Talk about Eating Disorders. An Impromptu MeMe.

By
Real Estate Agent with Florida Property Experts

typing a blog
Yes, I know this is completely unrelated to my usual real estate and general Daytona Beach area event posts. But lately, every time I plan a blog, at the last minute I run across something that changes my focus. I'm now just going with the flow.Lisa Hill in 1985

Eating disorders have been harming and killing people for longer than anyone truly knows. It was only in the 80s that Anorexia and Bulimia were officially recognized and named. In the 80s, I was a teenager; and at that time, it was the teens and young adults who were primarily affected by this disorder. I was one of them. My junior year in high school, (around 1985) over the course of what I think was a year, I managed to lose about 20 pounds through binging and purging. At my lowest weight, I weighed 87 pounds. Obviously, at 5'4" tall, when I weighed 107, I was nowhere near fat! But I thought I was. And no one could have convinced me otherwise. And in my mind, I was in a competition to be the lowest weight of everyone I knew. Because it was all about control. Other people were in control of every area of my life. But on this one? I had control and there was nothing they could do about it, because they didn't know what I was doing. They saw me eat. They just didn't see me purge.

I want to share with you, what I personally experienced in my battle with bulimia, and what I learned through my own research.

  1. You cannot convince someone with an eating disorder that they are not fat.
  2. You cannot force them to gain weight. They will find a way around you.
  3. If you do force someone with an eating disorder to eat, they're likely to experience extreme panic attacks as their brains "freak out" (my clinical terminology) about the enemy (food).
  4. Bulimia and anorexia are not the same. (They didn't know this in the 80s) However, if someone has one, they probably have some sort of battle with the other one as well. The biggest difference is that anorexics just think they have more self-control than everyone else while bulimics know there's a problem, but they're too ashamed to seek help. The amount of shame that accompanies an eating disorder is unbelievable!
  5. If someone who has previously experienced anorexia or bulimia is no longer being held captive by those diseases, it's very likely that they have found a replacement in exercise.

I'd also like to add that my grandfather, who just passed away last week, was an alcoholic. And one of my brothers is an alcoholic. And the bulimic thought process is very similar to alcoholism. The reason may or may not be because of a lack of Serotonin in the brain.  To add one more note to my family's problems, all of the women range biblefrom full-figured to just plain over-weight. This fed my fear/obsession.

Thankfully for me, my parents are strong, God-fearing people who know how to PRAY with power. When they found out exactly why I was so thin, they prayed a faith-filled prayer that broke the power that disease had over me. I IMMEDIATELY stopped binging and purging, started gaining weight and suffered no anxiety about it. Being instantly delivered from the bulimia was a miracle in itself. But to have no anxiety about suddenly gaining weight was another miracle on top of it!

But at that time, I was still in high school. I was a Christian and I had obviously experienced a huge miracle. But evenmoney afterward, I still wasn't putting God first. It was His grace that had healed me, but I was still young and stupid, and more interested in fitting in and being popular, than in being obedient to the will of God.

After graduation, I moved to DeLand and got a job at a bank, found a roommate and got an apartment. I was still free from the bulimia, but now I was doing what young people do when they get their first taste of freedom. So I still wasn't putting God first. But His grace is an amazing thing, so I was still free from the bulimia.

About 2 years later I got married; and 2 years after that, I had my daughter. But during pregnancy I experienced severe morning sickness for much of the pregnancy. I would sometimes get sick every hour, for days at a time until my blood sugar was so low that I would shake. Finally around the halfway point, the morning/all day sickness subsided.

Brittany and me I eventually gave birth to my daughter. But I had her a month early; most likely due to the fact that I taught aerobics until my 5th month and even did aerobics on the morning I went into labor. Now there is nothing wrong with working out while you're pregnant. But you're supposed to keep your heart rate much lower and not let your core temperature get too high. I knew this at the time, since I was a certified aerobics instructor, but I was 22 (still young and stupid thought I knew everything) and let's get real. When you're pregnant, you can reach the maximum advisable heart rate by walking across the room! So I ignored the rules, and continued working out the way I always had; and went into labor at the 8 month mark. (Woo Hoo! I only gained 20 pounds!)

But during the last hour during the birth, I had a nurse laying across my stomach to help push my daughter out, and a doctor using suction to pull her out, while my daughter's heart rate was dropping. I was too young to realize the possible ramifications of all this, but thank God my mother was in the room, praying non-stop. And after 22 hours of labor (we won't go there!) I gave birth to a 6 pound, 1 ounce, mostly healthy baby girl. What could have been the worst possible scenario was probably avoided, once again by the prayers of my parents. My daughter spent a week in the neonatal ICU because first of all, she didn't want to eat, and the doctor wouldn't let her go home until she drank 1 full ounce of formula; and then she got jaundiced and had to be placed in the little plastic bed, under the lights for a few days. I was allowed to come in and feed her every 3 hours.  (All that obviously didn't stunt her growth. She's been 3 inches taller than me since middle school.)aerobics

So back to the eating disorder. After giving birth, and going straight back to teaching aerobics only 2 weeks after having my daughter, I eventually started binging and purging again. But this time it was much worse. I was probably experiencing postpartum depression but that was another thing you didn't hear about at that time. And this time the binging and purging was completely out of control. I was so ashamed that I had let this happen again! I didn't want to go to my parents for help, so I tried quoting scriptures and believing for healing on my own, to no avail. (Matt 18:20) Then I went to the leaders at our church but I could tell they didn't know how to deal with this. But I was so out of control, and was now responsible for an infant! So I called my parents and had to tell them that it had started again.  

I had now moved back to Daytona Beach, and my parents were pastoring a church in Crescent City. During the one hour drive to their church, I was crying and completely humiliated and couldn't understand why I couldn't just stop this, and why it was so much worse this time! (Answer=Luke 11:24-26)

But God is so incredible! Once again, my parents prayed, and once again, I was IMMEDIATELY set free! And I have been free from that horrible shame and sickness ever since then. BUT, remember what I said about people replacing the original sickness with exercise. I hollywoodwent through many years of extreme exercise. And THAT can be justified by being healthy, staying fit, staying thin, etc.

The scariest part about eating disorders is, they are now hitting men and women of all ages. I had chalked it up to youth. But when adults, whose brains are fully developed, know the damage they're doing to their bodies, yet they allow themselves to fall prey to these life-threatening disorders, that tells me that a lot of people need to turn off their televisions, stop buying fashion magazines, stop going to the movies, and basically stop buying into what Hollywood is portraying as beauty! Try praying for self-discipline and good health instead!

Wow, this post is turning out to be much longer than I had planned. My plan was just to warn everyone of the long-term repercussions of Anorexia and Bulimia. I wasn't planning to give this much detail about my past experiences with an eating disorder. But I'll assume God had a reason for that too ;)

I'm now going to provide you with a list of possible things that can happen to your body when it is forced to endure long-term eating disorders and loss of vital nutrients. Thankfully, my bouts with bulimia were only for 1 year the first time, and a few weeks the 2nd time.

First, the short list. Malnutrition, dehydration, edema, muscle atrophy, TMJ, insomnia, hyperactivity, loss of hair, amenorrhoea, fatigue, depression.

Now for the critical, if not life-threatening problems and after-effects.

  1. Heart problems. (This is how Karen Carpenter died.)
  2. High or Low Blood Pressure
  3. Diabetes
  4. Seizures
  5. Liver Failure
  6. Cancer
  7. Anemia
  8. Paralysis
  9. Decay of the teeth and gums
  10. Depression
  11. Suicide and/or deathfamily

For my final words, I can't speak from personal experience on this one, but it's just as severe as eating disorders and has even been called "this generation's eating disorder" and that is "cutting". I know a young woman whose arms look like she's been in a car accident. I don't know what she used to cut herself, but some of the scars are 1/2 an inch wide. And the reason teens and young people are doing this stems from severe emotional pain. I have a heart for teens, because I remember how difficult those years were. But most adults can't relate to teens and they don't even try. They just judge them for how they look and what they're wearing.

I'd like to issue a challenge to you all, and that is to try to remember how extremely emotional your teen years were. Even if you were the most popular kid in school, you can recall the extreme pressure to keep up appearances. And the kids you see that are dressed in black, with piercings in strange places? They too are keeping up appearances for their circle of friends. That may be the only group of kids that reached out to them, and now they have to fit in. We, as adults, should try to make the youthful years of the children we encounter, easier for them to bear. We shouldn't make those years harder by judging them. Let's take this a step further. Try this little test. The next time you walk by a young person who is dressed or acting in a way that makes you uncomfortable, if you can make eye contact with them, why don't you give them a smile. I think you'll be surprised at their response. If anything, that young person will be more surprised that you smiled at them, than you are at how they're dressed.

And if you know anyone who has an eating disorder, or if you suspect they might, why don't you try accepting them the way they are, so you can open a channel of communication. Pray for the right timing; pray for God to prepare their hearts to receive; and pray for God to give you wisdom and the right words to say. Because there are now web sites and videos that encourage eating disorders! Don't believe me? Check out these links. House of Thin, Pro AnaWikipedia info on Pro Ana, These people are calling eating disorders a "lifestyle", not a disease!

Watch these Videos; both for and against "Thinspiration"

I totally did not mean for this to sound like a sermon, but that's how it turned out. I don't feel like re-writing the whole thing, so I pray that you take from it what God would have you hear. And I pray that you're able to help someone in need. 

And remember, when God heals or delivers you from something, He doesn't do anything half way. I was healed completely! I have suffered from none of the after-effects that are listed.  We all need to be less selfish and self-absorbed. We are surrounded by hurting people. Try reaching out. And if your hand gets slapped, reach out again! It's not about you! It's about helping people in need.

Lisa Hill

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Rainmaker
1,007,818
Karen Anne Stone
New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County - Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth Real Estate
Hi Lisa:  What an incredible ordeal you have been through.  I commend you for having the courage to share all of this with us.  By the way... how is your daughter doing ?  Thanks for sharing... take care... huggs to you.
Feb 11, 2008 05:03 PM #1
Rainmaker
595,563
Lisa Hill
Florida Property Experts - Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Real Estate
Karen- My daughter is great. She turns 18 next month and heads off to a Christian college with a full scholarship in the fall. She has totally put God first in her life. I couldn't be more proud =)
Feb 11, 2008 05:09 PM #2
Rainmaker
1,574,658
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

Wow - true confessions!  Not to make light of your past ordeals, but I bet it felt good to purge all this into your blog, get it off your chest.  What's up with cutting?  Never heard of that before.

I had a sister who was anorexic from drinking too much.  She died of a heart attack at 52.  Yikes!

Feb 11, 2008 07:55 PM #3
Rainer
165,557
Dan Forbes
Bradenton, FL
Lisa, Surely your story with help someone else and that's why you posted it.  THanks for your bravery and congrats on conquering the problem. 
Feb 11, 2008 09:47 PM #4
Rainmaker
1,553,627
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County
Lisa - I would have never guessed this. I guess that is the thing about the condition. Hopefully your info will inspire otehrs and educate.
Feb 11, 2008 10:56 PM #5
Rainmaker
855,189
Chris Griffith
Downing-Frye Realty, Bonita Springs, FL - Bonita Springs, FL
Bonita Springs Listing Agent
Lisa, sadly there will be many people who will quietly read this and (hopefully) find inspiration and hope in what you've been through and what you have shared.
Feb 11, 2008 11:05 PM #6
Rainmaker
400,769
Hugh Krone
Weichert Referral Associates - Hamburg, NJ
Realtor, Sussex County NJ
Lisa , A misconception is that alot of people thinks its just females , well I was Bulimic fron tha age if 16 when I lost 60 lbs in three months  on and off til 25. At 19 a doctor told me if I don,t stop i,m going to die. It slowed me down but didn.t stop me now 21 years later  it may happe n once a year or so. I have a sister who started losing her hair at 38 she was still a size 3 , She,s deaking through meds now and I have another sister who,s insides are even more meesed up than mine. It wrecks havoc on yourdigestion system. We eventually all lnew where it came from but that doesn,t make it easy to stop. Thanks for writing this.
Feb 12, 2008 12:58 AM #7
Rainmaker
469,163
Alexander Harb
Knights Investing - Mesquite, TX
Dallas, Texas Real Estate Investing

Great post...if just ONE person is helped by it...the post was worth it, Lisa!!!

Thanks for posting this very sensitive issue....one of our Pastors daughters was a "purger" for a while and they had to pray her through it..... she had lost a LOT of weight.....

I am glad she is still alive today!!

Feb 12, 2008 02:22 AM #8
Rainmaker
595,563
Lisa Hill
Florida Property Experts - Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Real Estate

Georgina- Actually, I have 2 videos on You Tube that I posted a year ago. My story is not new for me. I don't think it was about purging. I think it's something God prompted me to do. You never know who will find strength when you share the obstacles you've overcome in your life. We all have different stories. Each story can help someone who is experiencing that same problem. I think we have a responsibility to let down our walls and be transparent. When others see that they're not alone, it gives them the courage to keep taking that next step.

And your sister died because she was just drinking and stopped eating? Was it liver failure? Or did she just starve to death? That's horrible. Was this something recent? 

Feb 12, 2008 11:29 AM #9
Rainmaker
1,574,658
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

Lisa - I can't remember the name of the syndrome... something like Krutzfeld Jacob .... too much alcohol caused the system to be unable to process nutrients.  She was bone thin and then my parents helped her get back on her feet.  She was coping for years after that but never put on much weight, and started back to drinking.  She was eating OK and maintaining weight, but then had a sudden heart attack that killed her in the summer of '06.   She was all alone as her kids had already left the nest.  Very sad for the 2 boys whose father died when they were babies over 20 years before.  I could never understand it myself, but I guess that's the way it is.  Some of us are luckier than others.  

Good for you that you can be open about it.

Feb 12, 2008 11:47 AM #10
Rainmaker
595,563
Lisa Hill
Florida Property Experts - Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Real Estate

Dan- Every time I share this, it's with the knowledge that someone will read it and find strength from it =)

Gary- It's long past.

Chris- That's what I'm hoping =)

Hugh- Wow. I'm so sorry. But you know, if God can stop the disorder, He can absolutely heal your body too! As a matter of fact, He wants to!

 

Feb 12, 2008 12:00 PM #11
Rainmaker
595,563
Lisa Hill
Florida Property Experts - Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Real Estate

Alex- The statistics are that 1 in 5 people either have right now, or have had an eating disorder at some point in their lives. And I totally blame Hollywood! I don't buy fashion magazines anymore because they STILL affect me. They make people want to be something that is completely unhealthy.

Georgina- I don't think it's about luck. We all have our battles. This is just one that I have been through. And again, I'm sorry about your sister and her family. As for being open about it, it will have served no purpose at all, if I'm not willing to try to help others, by letting them know they're not alone and that there is hope. 

Feb 12, 2008 12:05 PM #12
Rainmaker
413,435
Lisa Heindel
Crescent City Living LLC - New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Real Estate Broker
Lisa, this has to be one of the most open and honest posts I have ever read.  I'm glad that you shared it, because I KNOW that someone out there needed to read this and it will help them.  You also touched on the kids today who dress a little differently - one of my daughters and her friends fall into that group and I can tell you first hand that although my initial response was one of horror, they are a group of bright, articulate and polite young people that are simply expressing their desire to be different.  And that's OK in my book.  Just like you are :) 
Feb 12, 2008 03:32 PM #13
Rainmaker
595,563
Lisa Hill
Florida Property Experts - Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Real Estate
Lisa- Thanks =)  Isn't it amazing how each generation forgets what it was like to be the youth; the ones rocking the boat. As adults, we owe it to our youth to accept and encourage them.
Feb 12, 2008 03:35 PM #14
Rainer
257,077
Maria Couto
RE/MAX Premier - Berkeley Heights, NJ
Realtor with "Results That "MOVE" You'
Heartbreaking, and frightening. Body image is very difficult for the young, even with a strong and loving family behind them. I'm at a loss sometimes with my oldest son who seems to want to be a walking piece of art. However like Lisa Heindel said, he is wonderful spirit, would give the shirt off his back (and has)and  is healthy,so what more can I ask. Brave blog.
Feb 13, 2008 02:22 AM #15
Rainmaker
417,264
Debbie Malone
Londeree's Real Estate & Property Management - Lynchburg, VA
From Lynchburg To The Lake (434) 546-0369
Lisa, Thanks for sharing your incredible story. I recently watched an intervention show on anorexia and no matter what anyone said, the girl kept obsessing over exercising and her body image. This is the first time I've heard an explaination so clearly given as to why you can't change someone's behavior. Thank God for praying parents!
Feb 16, 2008 11:56 PM #16
Rainer
143,940
Christina Williams. REALTORĀ® TN property search & local insights
First Realty Company - Crossville, TN

Lisa... You should be a writer.. I love this true story. I'm glad that you overcame this and are doing ok today! I had a friend in school that had this problem and I would watch her plurge. I could never do it. She eventually went to see doctors and her parents took her to support groups. I remember she ended up taking pills that would help her "Gain Weight". We are still in contact today and after the birth of her two boys she is 5"6 and her scale has shown between 125 and 135lbs for the last ten years. She looks great. I graduated in 1987.... So I know that Ara well : )   Have a great Sunday.

Feb 17, 2008 02:04 AM #17
Rainer
143,940
Christina Williams. REALTORĀ® TN property search & local insights
First Realty Company - Crossville, TN
P.S. love the photos of you! What a cutie
Feb 17, 2008 02:04 AM #18
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Lisa Hill

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