…people who restrict will obviously begin to lose weight, wear baggier clothing to hide it, move their food around on the plate but not eat it, chew food and spit it out. — Lisa Ferentz LCSW-C, DAPA
Happy and I have been best friends since we were 5 years old. We went to the same school together until high school and only parted ways when we entered college. I took up engineering and Happy was finishing nursing. She always wanted to help those in need especially children with cancer. But all of these are now a forgotten memory. Happy died 3 months ago due to esophageal bleeding and complications from bulimia.
What is bulimia?
We were all shocked about the news, especially the part that Happy has bulimia, an eating disorder that is characterized by binging and purging episodes while struggling with weight problems. According to her therapist (to which we have no idea that she’s been seeing one), Happy’s been going for counseling. To be honest, I never noticed this with Happy. She’s been a jolly person full of hope and dreams. That’s why she was given that name because she epitomized those characteristics.
According to her therapist, Happy has been struggling with depression and low self-esteem. She also reported of taking her own life in one of her lowest time. I have no idea that she’s been going on through this. I was not really by her side to help her out and be there as her friend. In tribute to her and to help put those who are suffering from bulimia, this article will discuss the signs and complications in order to raise awareness.
Is bulimia difficult to detect?
One may not really detect the obvious signs of bulimia until it’s getting seriously complicated. The persons, mostly females, ideally appear healthy with no apparent signs of weight loss. Nonetheless, deep inside they are battling disturbances in the perception of their body image that can result in low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.
Warning signs that a person may have bulimia will include the alternate signs of bingeing and purging:
Signs of binging:
- Consuming more food in one instance
- Hiding or hoarding food
- Eating in private where no one can see the bingeing episodes
- Eating until the point of pain
After the bingeing episode, the person now goes into feelings of guilt, self-disgust, and shame. The only remedy for them is to get rid of the food they just took in. This is now the purging episode where the person will do extreme ways to eliminate the food.
Newsflash: purging food was discovered eons ago by patients suffering from eating disorders—no surgical procedure required. — Alexis Conason Psy.D.
Signs of purging:
- Abuse use of laxatives and diuretics
- Self-induced vomiting
- Excessive and high-powered exercising
The cycle goes on until the person experiences the effects of the binge-purging episodes:
- Eroded tooth enamel and gingivitis due to the initiation of the gastric juices from vomiting
- Swollen salivary gums
- Russel’s sign or calluses on the knuckles or back of the hand due to repeated self-induced vomiting.
- Sores in the mouth and throat
- Scratchy or raspy voice quality
Complications of bulimia
Happy died of internal bleeding due to a tear from her esophagus. But I think it’s more than that. It’s very tragic that no one detected her downward spiral from this treatable psychological condition. Other life-threatening complications of bulimia include heart attack due to loss of important electrolytes from the body secondary to vomiting, self-injury behavior, and suicide from severe depression.
Focusing on treatment rather than cause continues to demand further research, both quantitative and qualitative. What works and does not are hot questions. — Judy Scheel Ph.D., L.C.S.W., CEDS