Sometime in 1999, I saw a behind-the-music type show on Karen Carpenter. She struggled with an eating disorder, and eventually got treatment at some clinic. She made a full recovery, only to have a heart attack & die. I was stunned. Her heart couldn’t handle the weight gain. She lived through the horror of self-starvation, only to die of a heart attack. She had gained 30 pounds in 8 weeks; her weakened heart gave out at age 32.

In the middle of trying to put on weight myself, this news flipped me. I was on the way to recovery and now this! Worry over having a heart attack! I gained 30 pounds over the course of about 5 months, and even this felt quick. I can only imagine how it would have felt to gain that much in just 2 months.

Anyone else with food obsessions is of particular interest to me, so Margaret’s story really got me. Just 20 years old, she has already suffered a heart attack due to lack of nutrition. Suffering from very particular food obsessions myself, and having had physical health problems as a result, I was (in the past) threatened with all manner of dire possibilities. Lack of nutrition can wear down not only your heart, but your kidneys and liver and just about every major organ. Lack of food causes a great deal of stress internally.

There seems to be an obvious connection between Margaret’s childhood events and her guilt (and subsequent refusal) about eating. Her parents fighting and eventual divorce led to Margaret being homeless in the 10th grade. With no money or food. This led to her feelings of guilt over eating and her worry that she may run out of food and therefore not be able to care for her son. How much stronger of a connection between childhood and adult behavior could one ask for? For all of you who deny that your upbringing directly affects your behavior as an adult, here’s solid proof. (I won’t give any lectures to anyone about any of this, but I will say this: parents, stop fucking up your kids!!)

OCD takes a toll not just on your mind, but your body as well.  Not only does Margaret have to deal with the compulsions that have taken over her life, she’s also dealing with a daily struggle with the basic necessity of food.  She feels contaminated after eating, causing her to compulse.  How will she overcome this?

Exposure therapy:  it’s uncomfortable, but it can’t hurt you.  This according to Dr. April.  Her mom says watching her go through anxiety that she looks like she’s ‘looking for an escape.’   Of course she is!!  That’s what compulsions are, an escape.  In the middle of anxiety, all you want to do is escape.  All you want is anything that will make the anxiety go away.

(To be continued.)