Anorexia nervosa is a brutal disease that costs lives, destroys families, ruins relationships, breaks down self-esteem and ultimately causes harm to everyone directly or indirectly affected by anorexia nervosa. Anorexia by definition is a failure to maintain a minimally ideal weight, extreme dietary habits that prevent a healthy weight gain, and a distorted body image. Keep in mind that individuals do not technically have to be underweight to be diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, despite having significant weight loss.
You cannot drive a car or take a bath under a certain BMI. Your brain is working at a lower level due to malnourishment, and therefore it is unsafe to drive, as your reflexes will be slower. The water pressure from a shower or faucet can be too extreme on your heart; therefore this extra strain can cause a heart attack.
You will always be cold. In the absence of sufficient body fat and daily caloric requirements, your body will constantly be cold, no matter how many layers of clothing you wear. You will walk around shivering and will feel like you are answering the most commonly asked question of “why are you so cold all the time”?
You are always in competition with others. Anorexia nervosa will not only overtake every aspect of your life, but you will be in constant (unhealthy) competition with other individuals who are also battling anorexia, and you will have the desire to be “stronger” and thinner than them. Comments such as “you look thin” will feed your ego and launch you into an even more vicious cycle of self-hate.
Your body takes longer to heal and will be covered in bruises, scabs, and cuts. The lack of nutrients and calories negatively affects your immune system resulting in delayed wound healing. You are also more prone to tripping and falling, and those bruises will take much longer to heal due to the affected immune system. The scabs on the back of your knuckles (if you engage in self-induced vomiting) will take longer to recover, and you are more likely to catch a cold virus or influenza because your body’s defense system is broken.
Once you enter eating disorder recovery, it will physically hurt to eat. After eating next to nothing at all for an extended period, eating well-balanced, nutritious meals will most likely aggravate your digestive system for a short period. Your body will eventually overcome this and heal over time; however, this can initially be physically painful and traumatic.
Your life becomes the same mundane routine. Your eating disorder will consume your life in ways unimaginable. You may ditch your loved ones and job because you become obsessed with counting calories, stepping on the scale, secret eating, excessively exercising to the point that if you break your routine, you will be overwhelmed of feelings of guilt and loss of control.
Your physical appearance will deteriorate. Anorexia nervosa is not glamorous and overtime your nails will become brittle, your hair will fall out, your clothes will hang off of you, your skin will become cracked and dry, you will show signs of early aging and eventually you may become unrecognizable in the mirror.