I want to thank Dr. Cherrye Vasquez for the article on Suicide. The article provides great information, and I hope it was helpful to you. I hope we will hear from Dr. Vasquez in the future.
Prior to moving to Indiana, I was employed by the Rebecca House for Eating Disorders as a part-time Residential Assistant. I listened to girls who were suffering from a disease that was indescribable, and extreme. The mirror on the wall reflected a lie, and they became believers of the lie. Yet, they were beautiful young women to me.
Statical Information on Eating Disorders
• 86% report onset of eating disorder by age 20; 43% report onset between ages of 16 and 20.6
• 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.8
• 25% of college-aged women engage in bingeing and purging as a weight-management technique.
• Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.
• In a survey of 185 female students on a college campus, 58% felt pressure to be a certain weight, and of the 83% that dieted for weight loss, 44% were of normal weight.
I am excited to introduce Mrs. Shannon Hogan, Co-Founder of Beautifully Broken. Shannon is a beautiful young lady. I met Shannon last year when I partnered with “Beautifully Broken” as an online facilitator. Various topics were addressed online with the young women living with an eating disorder or as they called it “ED.” Shannon willing accepted my invitation to share her story about her struggle with Anorexia & Bulimia Nervosa. Today she is sharing “Part 1.” I hope you will gain insight into a struggle that haunts many young women and teens in our society.
I am so excited about the topics we have shared with our children and youth in mind.
As always, it is my pleasure to be in your presence.
Darlene J. Harris
Shannon Hogan Bio:
Shannon Hogan is 27-years-old and the founder of a social support non-profit network, “Beautifully Broken.” She is a junior at the University of North Alabama while maintaining a high-GPA, participating in various clubs, activities, research, and national honor societies, while preparing for graduate school. She is planning on obtaining her doctorate in psychology. She is also a wife and mother of two baby girls and two stepdaughters.
Penned By: Shannon Hogan
I have been asked to share my story pertaining to my struggle and survival with anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Honestly, I am a private person, and sharing some of my exorbitantly intimate thoughts and experiences is an impediment, to say the least. My mind begins questioning and analyzing how I can discuss my issues without fully disclosing and ostensibly hurting or bashing those involved at the time. Varying theories of plausible causes adverting to the onset of eating disorders conflict, depending to whom is depicting the discussion. It is unabated that environment is a variant, and in the past few years scientists have made strides in proving the high probability genetics are additionally a factor.
In addition, some believe it is the host struggling with the disorder that is to blame, or a combination of the above variables. The topic is sensitive for many people, and the disease similar to a grenade. It may reside in one individual, but after time it blows up everyone in its wake, causing irrevocable damage.
First, my specific traumatic trials and tribulations are not paramount in understanding my story; for it is not my weaknesses, flaws, and circumstances that are preeminent, but how I am surmounting them. The first time I recall worrying about my weight began in the first grade. I was a petite little girl, and perceived the trait of being “short” as negative. I assumed being strikingly thin would compensate. The continual negative thoughts and insecurities perpetuated in my mind for years. My environment held the torch, and eventually I exploded. I hold no resentment to the people and situations which surrounded me at the time. Surviving my disorder became one of my greatest teachers.
Moreover, there is no simple explanation to the cause of the onset of my disorder. I look back and see a little girl in pain, which was wounded, lost, desperate for acceptance, and ironically fighting to survive. Skipping meals was acceptable and sometimes reinforced behavior at a young age. Purging became my dirty secret in the sixth grade and for years to come. I was not ashamed of starving myself; however, throwing up was humiliating. I did not want anyone to become knowledgeable of my immense self-hate, and to me putting my head to a toilet seat as a coping mechanism was nothing to be proud of. I only knew I needed to be numb to survive. Discussing my feelings was not an option, and trusting another human-being was wreakless.
Furthermore, the behavior continued for years. I became more proficient at utilizing the destructive tools, surviving present circumstances, and hiding my maladaptive behaviors from others. Regardless, I had reached every weight goal I set, and I was never content. Surprisingly, I hated myself more and more, and continued my destructive journey off the deep end, into an abyss of darkness. I clung to my eating disorder like a sick abusive loved one which I could not bear to cut off. I felt if I got rid of it I would have no purpose, identity, or process of coping. I would be alone in the world, and left as a hollow shell with nothing. I could not be alone. It became my only coping skill, my confidante, my best friend. Darkness embodied me. Night terrors tormented me most nights, as I fought my demons through watching them attempt to take my life perpetually. I would frequently wake up sweating and screaming feeling alone, abandoned, and hopeless. I was tired of fighting and felt I was losing my ability to continue. A loved one once described their perspective of my struggle in an analogy. She told me it seemed I finally fell off the edge into a deep sea, and my body was spun around invariably. However, when it stopped, and I was ready to come up for air I could not for I no longer was able to distinguish up from down. The way back to life had vanished. The analogy was very insightful. I reached a point where I wanted to survive, but it was not enough anymore. I thought I had control until it was ripped from my grasp. People question is the disorder truly about control? Yes, but, for me it was varying paradigms of control. It was fighting for autonomy, fighting against degradation, fighting for acceptance, and the ability to push past shame and self-hate. Some have asked me is the disorder simply a manipulation to control loved ones? I did not hold the confidence to believe I was powerful enough to control those around me, or that they would legitimately care. I just wanted to be “good enough” for someone and was not capable of seeing my complete lack of self-esteem. I did not consciously think “I hate myself.” However, I did not feel loved. I did not feel important or valuable. The negative mind is a dark place I know all too well, and the journey that led me to healing and abundance was nothing short of a miracle. I truly thought I would never be hungry again. Not only was I “not hungry” but the thought of food disgusted me. When I took a bite feelings and emotions that I worked so strenuously to avoid came back like a rushing tide in a storm. Many times I thought they would drown me. Although I did not feel I could eat, or that I could ever recover, at some point I allowed myself to believe it was possible. I held on to that belief every bite I took. I explicitly remember crying at every meal for a year. I sobbed through the bites, and began distracting myself. If I could just make myself think about anything positive, something other than the food, the struggle, maybe I could get through it. I took one meal at a time, and began to learn how powerful tiny consistent investments are in life. The choices appeared meaningless because the reward was not instantaneous.
Eventually, I was able to eat again. But, learning to push my body back to a healthy weight was only the first battle. I question those who perceive individuals suffering from eating disorders as healthy again after getting back to a certain number. In fact, the irony is quite humorous. Those suffering from eating disorders believe if they reach a certain number on the scale they will be happy, and outside individuals believe if those suffering reach a certain number they will be healthy. Each theory is simply a mirage based on a number on the scale, and neither infers causality. One is not “cured” by reaching a number just as one is not “happy” by reaching a number. When a healthy individual diets, reaches a certain weight goal, and is “happy” it is not solely the number on the scale, but the benefits of the correlational results. An individual with an eating disorder is not necessarily “healthy” when attaining a certain weight because he/she lacks the beneficial factors assisting in healthiness, such as a positive functional mentality.
Is it not logical to perceive an individual who holds the ability and determination to jump through extreme physiological, emotional, and mental circumstances while literally starving themselves to death to meet a goal, as fully capable of utilizing that strong-will in a different aspect? In other words, could the individual not push themselves through physiological, emotional, and mental turmoil to come back to life if the motivation for doing so was worth it to them? My point is, getting back to a healthy weight is only winning a small battle; it is not winning the war. If one’s mentality is the same as when one was active in his/her eating disorder, he/she will likely return to the same maladaptive behaviors, consequently deteriorating the body once again. I do not discount the pertinence in returning to a healthy-weight; it is undoubtedly a piece of the puzzle. It is remarkably difficult to perceive the world rationally if one’s brain is starved; therefore, not functioning appropriately. Functioning cognitively is just as important if not more important than reaching one’s exact healthy weight. However, it is difficult if not impossible for the body to function properly physically when it is suffering cognitively.
Shannon can be reached her through “Beautifully Broken” on Facebook.