Tag Archives: Mental health

Time to Cry Tuesday – Brides with Feeding Tubes

This is usually a place where I write about poignant, touching moments in life. Today I am reserving my right to talk about something that disturbs and saddens me quite deeply.

I will put this on my list of Top 10 Most Disturbing Stories of the Year. Ok, I don’t have a list like that but I am going to start one. I will also include vaginal cosmetic surgery. You see where I am going.

Briefly, here is the story. Brides-to-be are turning to feeding tube diets, or the K-E diet, for rapid weight loss of 10-20 lbs. in 10 days in order to fit into their wedding gowns. Here’s a novel idea ladies: alter a wedding dress to fit you instead of altering you to fit a dress!

This diet involves inserting a nasogastric tube to ‘feed’ the woman  for 10 days; cutting the daily intake to 800 calories. It is described as a hunger-free form of dieting. Correct me if I am wrong, but is this INSANE?

What blows my mind is a 41-year-old woman, Jessica Shnaider, had no problem being featured in this NYT story and then again on most major TV morning news shows. Here are some quotes from this person:

“I don’t have all of the time on the planet just to focus an hour and a half a day to exercise so I came to the doctor, I saw the diet, and I said, ‘You know what? Why not?”

Yeh, I can see why walking around with a friggin’ tube in your nose and not eating for 10 days would be less of a hassle than exercising and healthy dieting!

And then there was this beauty of a soundbite:

“People think I’m sick, I’m dying,” said Ms. Schnaider, a watch wholesaler in Miami. She refrained from going into her daughters’ school. “The children, they would be scared,” she said.

The adults that she knew were not scared by this behavior? Let me think of one adult that should have been running to catch the next train out of crazy town – THE KNUCKLEHEAD WHO WAS ABOUT TO MARRY HER. And did you catch the fact that she has a daughter?! Is there any hope for this young girl?

What is so disturbing about this diet is the doctors who are willing do facilitate it. Is the $1,500 that much of an incentive in the days where health insurance has shaved down the profitability of a medical practice? Here is a quote from a doc who might think they are tempering this with some solid advice:

“I don’t want to tell a bride she shouldn’t look good for the wedding,” Dr. Aronne said. “But we tell them, ‘You can get to the same place if you started earlier, instead of waiting until the last minute and doing something drastic.’ ”

How responsible, doc. How about something we rarely hear these days… the word NO and a referral to a good therapist to work out these debilitating body image issues and help these women to start their marriages on a healthy note instead of sending them right down the road of serious problems.

I have both a son and a daughter. This story disturbs me on so many levels. I don’t know which would worry me more, my daughter wanting to do this or my son marrying someone who did. Imagine these women raising kids.

Let me remove my outrage for a moment and get down to why this has me so inflamed. I have watched too many woman fall down this hole. Not just young women, but those who are at an age where you would hope they would finally get over their value being tied to how thin they are. I can sadly say that I count more women of all ages in the category of poor relationships with food than not. The scary thing about this therapy is it could be argued that it is ‘healthier’ than most eating disorder related behaviors because at least there is an attempt at nutrition, it is doctor-supervised and it is only short term. How sad is that?

Some sobering statistics from The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, Inc. (please see this link for sources). I have picked only a few, but the ones that struck me as the most appalling.

  • Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness amongst adolescents
  • Almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression
  • Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the US
  • 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
  •  42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner and 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat

This last one saddened me the most. It is starting at such an early age. The little girl that dreams of her wedding day and then sticks a tube down her nose to lose weight could most likely have been carrying this baggage since she was 7 years old.

How do we stop this madness?

Here is a start. Anya Strzemien of Stylist wrote this fabulous post. Women and men alike, please make this required reading for you, your friends, your daughters and most importantly anyone you worry about regarding risky body image and eating issues. In short, Ms. Strzemien implemented a tip jar to fine anyone in the office who says something negative about their appearance. The fine is $1 for every negative comment someone makes, with proceeds going to Girls Inc, an organization that promotes self-esteem and leadership skills for young girls. She took it one step further and flipped the focus to a positive one by using the comments section of her post to ask readers to say something good about themselves. In return, the Huffington Post Media Group will donate $1 for every comment up to $5,000.

Let that be the kind of behavior we ask our daughters to imitate and leave the feeding tubes to the minority!

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Time to Cry Tuesday – #silverribbons

Today I would like to bring to you a post from a woman who I consider to be one of the funniest people in the blogosphere. I have followed her forever and her outrageous writing is both entertaining and so relatable. Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess (damn, I have always been jealous of that name), took a step last night towards bringing attention to an issue very close to my heart and put herself out there to help lift the stigma.

Depression. Yeh, even the funny girl can suffer. Till now, it has been privately. But now she is taking it to the internet and maybe, just maybe, this campaign will show us how many of us are touched by this illness. If not ourselves, but people we love. And they are not alone.

Mental illness. Even reading those words causes some to shudder and run for cover. No matter how evolved we think we have become as a society, no matter how many anti-depressants and anti-anxieties are doled out like candy. No matter how many commercials – some touching, some ridiculous (a certain wind up doll comes to mind), it never ceases to amaze me how people will still speak in hushed tones about depression as if it were the plague. As if the mere mention of the word will open you up for susceptibility.

When you suffer from a physical illness, you are considered brave. When you fight a mental illness many consider you weak.

Wrong… you are the strongest, bravest fighter of them all.

Here is an excerpt from her post. You can read the whole thing here. Twitter has exploded with the hashtag #silverribbons. This is proof that so many fight this fight alone. Maybe Jenny can change that. And we can help her.

I self-harm.  I don’t do it all the time and it’s not enough to put me into an institution or threaten my well-being, but it’s enough to make it frightening to live in my body sometimes.  I’m far from suicidal.  I do it to self-sooth, because the physical pain distracts me from the mental pain.  It’s one of those things that’s impossible to explain to people who don’t understand impulse control disorder.  Honestly, I find it hard to understand it to myself and I’m working my ass off to fix it now before my daughter is old enough to see the things I don’t want her to see.  It is one of the hardest things I have ever done.

I am safe.  My disorder is fairly mild and is becoming more controlled.  I’m in therapy and I’m not in danger.  I avoid triggers and I’ve found therapies and drugs that are helping.  I’m getting better.  But I sort of feel like I can’t completely heal from this without being honest about it.  So here it is.  Judge me or not, I am the same person I was before.  And so are you.  And chances are that many of your friends, family and coworkers are dealing with things like this.  Things that are killing them a little inside.  Things that kill people who don’t get help.  Silent, bloody battles that end with secret victors who can’t celebrate without shame.  I hope that this post changes this somehow.  I hope that you feel safe enough to be honest about the things you are the most ashamed of.  I hope you have someone there telling you “It’s okay.  You’re still the same person to me.”

I hope  one day I see a sea of people all wearing silver ribbons as a sign that they understand the secret battle and that they celebrate the victories made each day as we individually pull ourselves up out of our foxholes to see our scars heal, and to remember what the sun looks like.

I hope one day to be better and I’m pretty sure I will be.  I hope one day I live in a world where the personal fight for mental stability is viewed with pride and public cheers instead of shame.  I hope it for you too.

But until then, it starts slowly.

To Jenny… the bravest one of all. May your dream come true, and may we all help you realize them.

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Filed under mental illness, Time to Cry Tuesdays