Happy Birthday Beth

Today is Beth’s 18th birthday. Her friends are throwing a huge party to celebrate it at the park; unfortunately she won’t be able to attend it. She will be in the hospital fighting for her life. Being the oldest in her family, Beth strives to set a great example for her two younger siblings.

Her grades are near perfect and she’s at the top of her class. Not only does she participate in the school’s play, but is the head cheerleader as well, or was until last week. At five foot two inches, she weighs a scary 63 pounds losing her position on the team for being too skinny. According to Health Status.com, the average weight for a female of five foot two inches should be 122 pounds. That’s an astounding 59 pounds more than what Beth weighs now.

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7,000,000 woman and 1,000,000 men are affected by some kind of eating disorder every year. There are many different kinds of eating disorders, including, but not limited to, anorexia, bulimia, and compulsive overeating. These disorders cause a person’s weight to drastically change, whether it is gaining excessive amounts of weight, or losing extreme amounts of weight. No matter what form of eating disorder a person has, it is extremely dangerous. A former student of mine was literally two weeks from death, Liz Masterson, a high school teacher, recalls.

Her doctor said that if she would have continued with her current behavior it would have killed her within a matter of weeks, but that wasn’t the only danger she faced. Like many teens with eat disorders, she had started to lose her hair and was constantly weak from the hours spent lying awake. Hair loss, graying or paling of the skin, unusual sleeping habits, dizziness, headaches, swollen glands and low blood pressure are just a few of the dangers eating disorders can cause. There are many things that can go wrong with a body when it lacks the essential nourishment needed to survive, those were just a few examples and all of them can lead to death. “I was so close to death, but I don’t think that recovering is my hardest struggle with my anorexia.

It is the way people look at me,” said an unnamed source. “I already hate my body as is, but having people look at me because I’m so horribly thin, and all of my hair has fallen out makes things ten times worse. Some days I wish it would have killed me.” Scary as this may sound, many teen eating disorders are caused when they feel like they don’t belong or that life is not worth living. Peer pressure and society’s image of perfection drives kids to do unbelievable things, like using food and their weight as a control.

Although, it may not seem like anorexia, bulimia and purging are forms of self –mutilation, the act of intentionally hurting oneself, they are some of the most common. CNN.com posted an article that said that one in five kids have purposely harmed themselves at some time or another. There are approximately 1,500 students that attend Kelly Walsh and according to these statistics about 300 of the1500 students may have purposely self-harmed in the past year. Those kids could be anyone, not just those who show signs of distress.

In Beth’s case, she wasn’t hidden from public view, however her acts were. No one seemed to notice that she wasn’t eating or eating only as little as she could. She would blame her headaches on the noise of the room and explained her dizziness by saying she hadn’t drunk enough water. Make-up made it easy for her to hide the dark circles around her eyes and the paleness of her face. Anemia from the low red blood cells count caused her to bruise from the slightest touch. She was able to blame cheerleading for many of the bruises to her arms and legs and hid the others that weren’t as easy to explain.

Her busy schedule made it easier for her to continue with her self-destructive behavior, but all those things stopped when she pasted out in the middle of her English room. After many attempts of getting her to regain consciousness, Beth was rushed to the hospital, where she will spend the next few agonizing hours fighting for her life.