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  • Desiree Valadez

Bulimia & Our Daily Lives: How are communities affected?

By: Desiree Valadez, Contributing Writer

Edited by: Fauzia Haque, Editor; Eve Nevelos, Editor in Chief

Bulimia is an emotional eating disorder that involves a harmful and destructive distortion towards one's body image and an obsessive compulsion to decrease weight. Those who suffer from it usually binge, which is followed by overall depression, self-imposed vomiting, purging, and/or fasting. According to the American Addiction Centers, “Approximately 1.5 percent of the US female population and 0.5 percent of the male population has experienced bulimia in their lifetimes. These percentages translate to 4.7 million females and 1.5 million males.” Millions of people who suffer from this worldwide eating disorder often have to face the hardship of consequences that is brought by this disorder. It often affects their family life, romantic life, and education or work life.

Bulimia, or eating disorders in general, affects one's family life extensively as there is often a constant misunderstanding. Usually, there is a “stigma” about eating disorders as many believe that those who suffer from it can “just stop and eat normally.” An eating disorder is extremely and emotionally stressful, but this stress is usually heightened because, in many cases, anyone who has never dealt with an eating issue may believe that recovery should be simple and straightforward. This common stigma and “simple solution” can create deep misunderstandings and a sort of detachment between family members and individuals suffering from bulimia. However, eating disorders impact the brain of the patient and may turn the act of eating food into a terrible experience. Without the understanding and support of family members, sufferers will usually feel alone and fall into a great depression as they feel misunderstood.

An eating disorder, like bulimia, can overtake friendships and romantic or intimate relationships. One of the many consequences of eating disorders is having issues with trust and self-confidence, which can lead to problems in romantic relationships and intimacy. Romantic partners of people who suffer from an eating disorder frequently perceive a lack of emotional connection in their relationship. Because they desire to maintain control over their food intake and/or avoid being watched while eating, people with disordered eating may decline offers to go out or share a meal with their romantic partner, which would ultimately lead to a withdrawn relationship, and oftentimes to a break-up. Moreover, in the relationship aspect, the sex life of these relationships is affected; people with body issues may find it difficult to feel comfortable with physical closeness and being open with their body in front of another person. In addition, friendships might be hurt. During their illness, people frequently lost touch with the majority of their friends. They may be too fatigued, consumed by the habits brought on by their eating disorders, or depressed to maintain their connections. Similar to how bulimia affects the family dynamic, it also creates a sense of loneliness when it comes to relationships and friendships.

Bulimia has a great impact on the education of those who suffer from it. Eating disorders can affect the ability to learn due to many reasons. One of these reasons would be the fact that bulimia causes vitamin shortages within the body, such as iron deficiency, which has an immediate negative impact on memory and concentration. Also, due to the impaired immune system caused by the disorder, students are more susceptible and vulnerable to illnesses, which would generate a great increase in absences from school. Furthermore, bulimia often makes sufferers angry, reduces their ability to concentrate and focus, and reduces their capacity to listen and process information. All of these consequences of the disorder make the occasion for defective and deficient education and poor learning skills.

In conclusion, apart from extremely harming one's overall physical health, bulimia will greatly impact the personal lifestyle of those who experience this agonizing eating disorder altogether. If you or someone you know who suffers from bulimia feels that they are distancing themselves emotionally, please seek out help from a professional or a comfort group that can help you navigate through these troubles and reallocate your personal lifestyle.

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