An anorexia sufferer had such a bad case of the illness that she used to hide food in her ears to avoid eating it.
Julia, from Zurich, Switzerland, says her unhealthy relationship with food began when she was 13, but the disease fully took hold two years later.
As she hit puberty, she worried that the changes to her body would affect her life.
The recovering anorexic, now 24, remembered: “I didn’t know who I was and I was terrified to grow up.
“Anorexia gave me a false sense of control and was a way of avoiding all the difficulties that come with puberty.”
Julia Janssen would also smear butter in her hair so she wouldn’t have to ingest it as the disorder took hold.
Therapists said she had one of the worst cases they had ever seen when she was finally admitted to hospital and her lowest weight was just 5 stone 9lbs.
Having now gained 22lbs, Julia wants to tell people that just because she now looks well it doesn’t mean she is. Photo: Triangle News
In her worst weeks, Julia was terrified to even drink water in case it was contaminated and wouldn’t touch food because she feared it would be absorbed through her skin.
She used to hide food behind her ears to avoid eating it. Photo: Triangle News
She lost huge chunks of her hair, leaving bald patches, and simple tasks like taking a shower would take hours and leave her physically exhausted.
Her blood pressure was so low she would faint many times a day and her lips and fingers would turn blue because she was always cold despite wearing woolly hats all year round.
Julia lost control of her bladder and also suffered open wounds where her skin was so thin that her hip bones protruded through, rubbing against her clothes.
She says looking back she is now ashamed of the things the illness made her do.
“I did everything from going out at 2am to walk for hours, hiding food absolutely everywhere and lying straight to the face of my loved ones,” she said.
“If someone was watching me when I was eating breakfast to make sure I didn’t cheat, I would smear butter into my ears and into my hair.
Julia continues on her journey of recovery, turning to friends on Instagram for support.
She explained: “There were so many accounts of girls and women who have been very, very sick for many years, but who have decided to fight this illness and are now leading relatively happy lives.
“That has always been such a big motivation.
“I always knew in theory that you could recover from anorexia, but really seeing people who have done it, is amazing and I am so grateful to all of the support I get online.
“I want to be in control of anorexia and no longer let anorexia control me.”
Here is more info on Anorexia:
What is Anorexia?
Anorexia Nervosa is a psychological and possibly life-threatening eating disorder defined by an extremely low body weight relative to stature (this is called BMI [Body Mass Index] and is a function of an individual’s height and weight), extreme and needless weight loss, illogical fear of weight gain, and distorted perception of self-image and body.
Additionally, women and men who suffer from anorexia nervosa exemplify a fixation with a thin figure and abnormal eating patterns. Anorexia nervosa is interchangeable with the term anorexia, which refers to self-starvation and lack of appetite.
Major Types of Anorexia
There are two common types of anorexia, which are as follows:
- Binge/Purge Type – The individual suffering from this type of eating disorder, will purge when he or she eats. This is typically a result of the overwhelming feelings of guilt a sufferer would experience in relation to eating; they compensate by vomiting, abusing laxatives, or excessively exercising.
- Restrictive – In this form, the individual will fiercely limit the quantity of food consumed, characteristically ingesting a minimal amount that is well below their body’s caloric needs, effectively slowly starving him or herself.
Though two classifications of anorexia nervosa exist, both types exhibit similar symptoms, such as irrational fear of weight gain and abnormal eating patterns.
Causes of Anorexia
Anorexia is not a simple disorder. It has many symptoms and effects, and its causes are complex as well. Currently, it is thought that anorexia nervosa develops as a result of multiple factors, both biological and environmental.
Examples of environmental factors that would contribute to the occurrence of this eating disorder are:
- The effects of the thinness culture in media, that constantly reinforce thin people as ideal stereotypes
- Professions and careers that promote being thin and weight loss, such as ballet and modeling
- Family and childhood traumas: childhood sexual abuse, severe trauma
- Peer pressure among friends and co-workers to be thin or be sexy.
Examples of biological factors include:
- Irregular hormone functions
- Genetics (the tie between anorexia and one’s genes is still being heavily researched, but we know that genetics is a part of the story).
- Nutritional deficiencies
Anorexia Signs & Symptoms
An individual suffering from anorexia nervosa may reveal one or several signs and symptoms such as:
- Chronic dieting despite being hazardously underweight
- Obsession with calories and fat contents of food
- Engaging in ritualistic eating patterns, such as cutting food into tiny pieces, eating alone, and/or hiding food
- Continued fixation with food, recipes, or cooking; the individual may cook intricate meals for others but refrain from partaking
- Amenorrhea: an abnormal absence of menstruation, or loss of 3 consecutive menstrual cycles
- Depression or lethargic stage
- Development of lanugo: soft, fine hair that grows on face and body
- Reported sensation of feeling cold, particularly in extremities
- Loss or thinning of hair
- Avoidance of social functions, family, and friends. May become isolated and withdrawn