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Posts Tagged ‘mental illness’

Driving home from the office last week I heard a clip on the radio about all of the “should” articles that exist on the internet these days. It’s a topic I had long been considering blogging about because it seems so many of us can fall prey to believing such articles.

“10 Foods You Should Stop Eating Now;” “5 Things All Parents Should Be Doing;” “10 Reasons Why You Should Give Up Relationships.”

So here is my list of 3 reasons why we should stop reading and believing such articles.

  1. The writers are most likely trying to drive traffic to their website versus having our genuine well-being in mind. There are few things that are so black and white that we should do or should not do them in order to live a happy, healthy life. We all know that exercise is beneficial and there is no one thing we need to be doing all of the time. We know that eating nutritious food helps us feel better and stronger and we can still eat foods that have less nutrition value and are enjoyable.
  2. The articles can do a good job convincing us that if we do or don’t do what they say, somehow we’re a worthless human being who is going to die young or suffer a serious illness. Our relationships will disappear and we’ll be left all alone. We know that not everything on the internet is true and this is even more crucial to understand in 2017 because of the amount and types of these articles that exist. Many of them don’t have research to back them up and when they do, they are often only discussing one side of the picture. If we have a genuine concern, it’s going to benefit us more to speak to professionals, do our own research, and draw our own conclusions.
  3. Ultimately articles such as these can cause more harm than they profess to protect us from. For those struggling with existing mental health disorders such as depression or eating disorders, reading about why they should end relationships or why they should stop eating certain foods can exacerbate the disorder. If we’re depressed, the last thing we need is to further isolate and if we have an eating disorder, we can become more obsessed and ritualized by eliminating even more foods. The challenge is that these articles are shared so broadly that there is little escaping them. This isn’t to say that we should blame the articles fully because we do have control over what we click on and what we read. However, when someone is in a vulnerable state this information can reinforce irrational thoughts they may be having. They can search for evidence that supports the reasons why they shouldn’t get better. “See, according to this article, I shouldn’t be eating red meat because…”

The next time you’re tempted to click on a “should” article, I encourage you to stop and consider your intention. What are you hoping to learn, really? Are you actually doing harm to yourself by living your life the way you are? Is there a professional you could talk to instead? The reality is that some pieces of the articles may be true, but we have to pick and choose responsibly what we’re going to believe.

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No, I’m not a model (as if you thought I was). But just like many of us, escaping the modeling world is a difficult task especially since we’re bombarded with advertisements every minute of the day. Whether it’s the cover of a magazine, a television commercial, or an Internet ad, we are continually faced with beautiful faces or bodies aimed at leading us to feel like we simply don’t measure up.

Recently I read an article via a friend’s status update and was appalled by the way models are now being recruited in some countries. The article focused on scouts waiting outside an eating disorder clinic to grab up severely ill patients when they stepped outside. It was mentioned how the modeling industry is allegedly guilty of weighing girls in public and I saw elsewhere recently how women are forced to do a Fashion Week cleanse. It’s a tragedy and yet so many young girls aspire to step into this world for the chance to be noticed.

Individuals in a treatment facility for eating disorders most often are battling deep-rooted issues that make them especially prone to accepting that business card from a modeling agent while on a daily walk outdoors. “Hmm, maybe staying sick isn’t such a bad idea. See, it can get me work and I can survive.” It can compromise the very goal for the individuals who are in treatment and can thrust them deeper into or back into a cycle that was already difficult to break. The insensitivity of the scouts mentioned in this article is sickening, disheartening, tragic, and flat out wrong!

I’m able to read this article and see the tragedy of the attempt to take advantage of vulnerability. Eating disorders, whether anorexia, bulimia, or compulsive overeating, are severe mental illnesses that kill thousands of men and women. And although popularly believed, these disorders rarely begin as an “I’m going to lose weight” scheme. In fact, research shows that many sufferers have been sexually abused, bullied, ignored, raped, etc. and the eating disorder is an attempt to regain some control within their lives. It may appear to those on the outside that these individuals are narcissistic, self-absorbed, weight-loss obsessed persons who will do anything to avoid gaining weight for the sake of beauty.

Certainly, these characteristics and behaviors can develop as a result of an eating disorder, but to say this is the total of an eating disorder is way off the mark. Those seeking treatment for these disorders often discover that they were trying hard to do everything for others and to be that “perfect” friend, spouse, daughter, employee, or student in an attempt to protect others from experiencing negative emotions or situations. Often, we are known as givers, selfless givers, who only want the best for those we love and are willing to put others first and ourselves second. We are frequently givers afraid of showing emotion because we want to be strong for everyone else. In the process, we lose ourselves and attempt to gain it back by engaging in unhealthy behaviors that we believe only has an impact on us.

The news of this latest attempt by modeling scouts to recruit severely ill eating disorder patients is the final straw for me. I stopped reading fashion magazines more than 5 years ago and have not missed them. I stopped watching America’s Next Top Model after hearing the critical feedback provided to naturally beautiful women. I’m saying a final goodbye to all things model for the sake of myself and those who are trapped by expectations of beauty.

The bottom line is that beauty is subjective and we all possess some level of it. My hope and prayer is that modeling scouts will either change jobs or stop hanging outside treatment centers like desperate panhandlers.

*If interested, here is a link to the article: http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/04/22/modeling_scouts_recruit_teen_patients_at_swedish_anorexia_clinic_are_you.html?fb_ref=sm_fb_share_blogpost

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This blog post may be a bit sensitive for some, but I can’t hold in my view on the subject any longer.

Perhaps you’ve seen the T-shirts that read, “I beat anorexia,” or have been asked on occasion about losing weight. Whether or not you or someone else did actually have anorexia is not why I’m steaming. It’s the fact that there is even a T-shirt with these words being sold in plus sizes (and regular sizes too I’m sure) as a joke and the fact that people so regularly comment on the weight of the thin.

Even if someone does have anorexia and is underweight, what gives people the right (besides freedom of speech) to comment so openly on the weight of the perceived slender individuals in this world? And what gives people the right to publicly make fun of those who have a serious mental illness? I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t walk up to someone who has gained weight and say, “Wow, you’ve really gained some weight. Have you been eating more?” Nor would I post jokes on a social networking site about mental. illness. Not all thin or underweight people have an eating disorder and if they do, take their hand and help for crying out loud…

I am defensive about mental illness because someone NEEDS to be.

My goodness people, why does someone having an eating disorder or being naturally slender permit the rest of us to comment so darn freely on how his/her weight appears??? You will never see me wear a T-shirt with the words, “I beat anorexia,” even though I truly have beat the illness.

Humans are more than a number. We are more than an appearance or a size or a hairstyle. So please, let’s all do the world of favor and unless we are being sincere and not inquiring just to inquire (or because we’re jealous), let’s stop with the weight talk and move on to life’s more important things.

While we’re at it, let’s stop all the trash talk and jokes about an illness that kills more than 20 percent of sufferers.

It’s no laughing matter…

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