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Shocked, SHOCKED

Posted Aug 24 2008 8:04pm

I'm not sure if the word "shock" applies here:

  • Professor Pope weighed 30kg (66 pounds) at 4'10" (BMI: 13.8)
  • Suffered from an eating disorder since her teens
  • Did not eat anything but fruit and diet sweets in public
  • Was socially withdrawn
  • Lost 10kg (22 pounds), or 13% of her total weight in the past year
  • Hoarded food and food magazines, brought her own food to people's houses, and cooked feasts for others and left the room as they ate.
That's not shocking. That is anorexia nervosa. What is shocking is that in 2008 we would call it "self-neglect"

It should be shocking that the SYMPTOMS of mental illness (an emaciated person being "incredibly energetic, enthusiastic and capable" "irrepressible and determined" "understanding, generous and loving sister and affectionate") are used as laudatory or mitigating facts.

It is tragic that loved ones are led to believe (by society and even clinicians) that the risk of damaging the relationship is greater than the risk of this crushing illness.

I don't blame the family or the colleagues. I blame us. Society. We think that patients must understand and choose recovery in order for us to do the one thing we all CAN do: STOP ACTING NORMAL.

Stop eating the food they make us and don't eat. Stop walking on eggshells. Stop praising symptoms like energy and selflessness and focus on work. Stop accepting the labor of an ill person who is unable to care for herself. Stop pitying and being angry or hurt. Stop acting normal until they are. It is the least we can do.
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