The Darkness Of An Eating Disorder

The Darkness Of An Eating Disorder

Eating disorders are not just about food, but about control.
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The darkness of an eating disorder; it will never be enough.

I found this weird sense of comfort in being miserably cold.

I was completely alone, in my head all day every day. Every day became just watching the seconds go by on the clock trying to do something else other than think about food. The days became just one more day to get through. But the thing is, when your life revolved around something, especially something that is essential for living, it's a really difficult thing to do.

Hungry -- so unbelievably hungry. My stomach had been growling for three days now, but I felt a very sick satisfaction out of being so hungry and being able to control myself from not eating. Every day dragged on and on until I decided it was OK for me to eat. At this point, my thoughts were being taken over by an evil I didn't even realize could affect me. I was too weak to get out of bed in the morning and so cold, I was wearing three layers of sweaters and three pairs of socks.

The even sad part of it is, even how miserable I was, I loved every second of knowing I was skin and bones. I looked into the mirror and saw a fat pig which is my body dysmorphia messing with my head.

I was 90 pounds. That wasn't enough for me to believe I was actually too skinny. For my anorexic brain, which was now controlling my every thought, I could never be skinny enough.

My thoughts were consumed by numbers and measurements, and I was so malnourished that I would black out. I cannot even remember five months of my life.

I had never been depressed before, but in that time of my life, I was self-destructing and in my lowest depression. I isolated myself because hanging out with people involved food most of the time and I would do anything to avoid being in a situation like that.

Now, you are reading this from a girl who used to get excited when food came on the table, loved cooking and lived to eat not just survive. I have an Italian family and we all love to eat.

So I never understood how I got stuck in a disorder like this, but it is like an addiction, and addiction affects a wide variety of people. I could not get out of misery and I found such an unbelievable comfort in being miserable it baffled me. This was not just about food when I was in a time where control of myself and my life was out of reach, I could control what I put into my mouth.

I was battling myself and my mind which had so much power over me. I was not me anymore, I was dead on the inside, numb and "zombified" by my enemy, anorexia. Ana became my best friend and the only one I needed to please, which was destroying my heart, mind and health. I was a hypocrite, I gave advice when people asked because I knew exactly what to do to be healthy and not destroy myself, but did the complete opposite.

To this day, I have learned that overcoming an enemy so strong is possible and have gained so much confidence and self-esteem in my own body.

Recovery is possible for anyone struggling with an eating disorder and it becomes a spiritual awakening for you.

Cover Image Credit: techprone

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4 reasons how Drake's New Album May Help Us Fight Mental Illness

Increasing Evidence Points to Music as a Potential Solution to the Mental Health Problem.

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Okay, You caught me!

I am NOT just talking about everybody's favorite actor-turned-rapper— or second, if you've seen Childish Gambino's "This is America" music video. Unfortunately, current research hasn't explored specific genres and artists. However, studies HAVE provided significant evidence in possibilities for music to treat mental health disorders. Now, before you say something that your parents would not be proud of, ask yourself if you can really blame me for wanting to get your attention. This is an urgent matter concerning each one of us. If we all face the truth, we could very well reach one step closer to solving one of society's biggest problems: Mental Health.

The Problem:

As our nation continues to bleed from tragedies like the horrific shooting that shattered the lives of 70 families whose loved ones just wanted to watch the "Dark Knight Rises" during its first hours of release, as well as the traumatic loss of seventeen misfortunate innocents to the complications of mental health disorders in the dear city of Parkland— a city mere hours from our very own community— it's impossible to deny the existence of mental illness. As many of us can already vouch, mental illness is much more common than what most would think: over 19 million adults in America suffer from a mental health disorder. Picture that: a population slightly less than that of Florida is plagued by hopelessness, isolation, and utter despair.

Disease in the form of depression holds millions of people prisoner, as anxieties instill crippling desperation and too many struggles with finding peace. This can be you. It could be your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, your cousin, your aunt, your uncle, your friend, your roommate, your fraternity brother, your sorority sister, your lab partner, or just your classmate that sits in the corner of the lecture hall with a head buried into a notebook that camouflages all emotion.

I hope we— the UCF community— understand the gravity of the problem, but it's clear that some still see mental illness as a disease that affects only a handful of "misfits" who "terrorize" our streets, while the numbers reveal more to the issue. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans suffers from a mental health disorder. The problem is so serious that suicide has risen to become the second-leading cause of death among 20 to 24-year-olds. While many continue to ask for more antidepressants and even the occasional "proper spanking," recent studies indicate increases in occurrence, such as one in depression from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015. So, clearly, none of that is working.

The Evidence:

If we really want to create a world where our children are free from the chains of mental illness, we need to think outside the box. Doctors and scientists won't really talk about this since it's still a growing field of research, but music has strong potential. We don't have any options at the moment, which means we need to change our mindset about music and to continue to explore its medicinal benefits. If you're still skeptical because of the title, then please consider these 4 pieces of solid evidence backed by scientific research:

1. Music has been proven to improve disorders like Parkinson's Disease.

Researchers sponsored by the National Institute of Health— the country's largest research agency— saw an improvement in the daily function of patients with Parkinson's Disease. This makes patients shake uncontrollably, which often prevents them from complete functionality. The disease is caused by a shortage of dopamine— a chemical your neurons, or brain cells, release; since music treats this shortage, there's an obvious ability to increase dopamine levels. As numerous studies connect dopamine shortages to mental illnesses like depression, addiction, and ADHD, someone could possibly use music's proven ability to increase dopamine levels to treat said problems.

2. Listening to the music has the potential to activate your brain's "reward center."

In 2013, Valorie Salimpoor and fellow researchers conducted a study that connected subjects' pleasure towards music to a specific part of the brain. This key structure, the nucleus accumbens, is the body's "reward center," which means all of you have experienced its magical powers. In fact, any time the brain detects a rewarding sensation— drinking ice-cold water after a five-mile run in sunny, humid Florida, eating that Taco Bell chalupa after a long happy hour at Knight's Library, and even consuming recreational drugs— this structure releases more of that fantastic dopamine. So, with further research into specifics, doctors may soon be prescribing your daily dose of tunes for your own health.

3. Listening to Music may be more effective than prescription anti-anxiety medication.

In 2013, Mona Lisa Chanda and Daniel J. Levitin— two accomplished doctors in psychology— reviewed a study wherein patients waiting to undergo surgery were given either anti-anxiety medications or music to listen to. The study took into account cortisol levels, which are used daily by healthcare professionals to gauge patient levels. This "stress hormone" was actually found to be lower in patients who listened to classical music rather those who took the recommended dose of prescription drugs. Sit there and think about that for a second: these patients actually felt more relaxed with something as simple as MUSIC than with chemicals that are made specifically to force patients into relaxation before surgery. Why pop a Xanax when you can just listen to Beethoven?

4. Music may release the chemicals that help you naturally relax and feel love.

Further studies continue to justify music's place in the medical world as results demonstrate increases in substances such as prolactin— a hormone that produces a relaxing sensation— as well as oxytocin— the substance that promotes warmth and happiness during a hug between mother and child. So this study basically showed us that music has the potential to actually make you feel the way you did when Mom or Dad would embrace you with the warmest hug you've ever felt.

The Future:

The evidence I present you with today is ultimately just a collection of individual situations where specific people found specific results. There are a lot of variables when it comes to any research study; therefore, data is never truly certain. We should take these findings as strong suggestions to a possible solution, but we must remember the possibility of failure in our search.

The neurochemistry behind the music and its medicinal properties is just beginning to unfold before the scientific community. In fact, extremely qualified scientists from the National Institute of Health— the organization that basically runs any important medical study in the United States— continue to remind us of the subject's youth with the constant use of "potential" behind any and all of their findings. Therefore, it's our responsibility as a community to look into this— not just that of the scientists at the National Institute of Health.

We're all surrounded by music. It's at the bars. It's in our ears during all-night sessions at the UCF library. It's keeping us awake through East Colonial traffic at 7:00 AM while hordes of students focus on their cell phone screens instead of the paved roads ahead. It's in the shoes we wear, the actions we take, and the words we say. IF YOU'RE READING THIS: it's accessible to you. So, don't be shy, and try to play with your Spotify account, or even just on YouTube, and gauge the power of music. As more and more of us see the light, we can promote the movement and carry on as more research comes out to support us.

Drop the bars, drop those addictive pills that destroy your body slowly, and pick up your headphones and press PLAY.

Just relax, close your eyes, smile, and live.

Cover Image Credit:

@champagnepapi

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My body will never be 'perfect'

"It's hard to love something you've been taught to criticize."

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I never had a perfect relationship with my body. I had insecurities and was very self-conscious about them.

I didn't like the way my arms looked in sleeveless shirts. I hated my legs because they weren't as skinny and had marks on them. My hair was always frizzy and I had braces for a long period of my life.

It took me forever to accept my body for the way that it was. I went through a period where I would try to eat as little as I can just to lose weight. People around me told me that I was the "bigger" twin compared to my sister and that is something I still carry with me today.

I hated when summer came around because my "big thighs" would be showing and I couldn't hide them under layers. This more hate than love relationship went on all through high school until I got to college.

I realized that I didn't want to hide my body anymore and I wanted to be proud of it. I started eating better and exercising more. Don't get me wrong I still eat junk food when I can, but I don't binge on it anymore.

I introduce my body to new ways of being active, such as yoga. Seriously it's a game changer, I did not know my body could do some of these yoga moves. I'm learning to accept my body for the way that it is.

If I could go back and tell 13-year-old me something, it'd be this. Your body is only yours. No one can tell you different. The things your body can do will amaze you every day because as you grow, it will grow with you. Treat like a temple because it deserves a healthy soul and mind.

It's hard to love something that people judge so harshly and use as a comparison, but in the end, your body is what stays with forever. Learn to love it and care for it.

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