The Interview: A Voice to be Heard

Series: “Accepting Our Appearance”

The Interview: A Voice to be Heard

 

When our self‑concept is distorted, it can be fixed.

If we assess our level of functioning, regarding our quality of life and happiness, we can modify behavior by realizing a need for change.

For some, this “fixing” and “change” are taken to an extreme.

To provide an authentic account of those who struggle to accept their appearance, the following interview is between me and a young girl from a ProAna forum, where anorexia is promoted as a lifestyle. Within the Eating Disorder Community, there’s a special lingo members use to communicate.

I didn’t want her to feel threatened or judged, I simply wanted to hear her experience; throughout the interview, I use the lingo to help her feel more comfortable.

I hope, through this genuine perspective, we learn more about ourselves.

Be aware, empathize, learn, and grow.

We can either acknowledge our issues or remain in denial.

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I transcribed the information included in her profile, translating some of her ProAna abbreviations, for clarity’s sake.

Ethnicity: Native American

Highest Weight (HW): 150lbs.

Current Weight (CW): 131.8lbs.

Goal Weight 1 (GW1): 130lbs.

Goal Weight 2 (GW2): 110lbs.

Ultimate Goal Weight 1 (UGW1): 100lbs.

Ultimate Goal Weight 2 (UGW2): 95lbs.

The interview took place over the phone on Tuesday March 5, 2013 at 7:47 pm.

            START INTERVIEW

  • Me: When did you start to embrace ProAna?
  • A: Nine years old.
  • Me: What triggered your interest?
  • A: Well, it was really my own curiosity. I started to check out some of the information online and it kind of sucked me in. There was also this one time my dad called me fat. I will never forget that! I guess, in that way, it was kind of my parents too.
  • Me: Do your parents know you’re ProAna?
  • A: Oh no…no one does.
  • Me: You’ve never told anyone?
  • A: I have one friend who knows, but she’s not ProAna. I talk to this other girl who’s ProAna; it’s only texting though…we’ve never met in real life.
  • Me: In all these years, no one’s been able to detect you’re ProAna?
  • A: Nope…no one. Everyone’s clueless! I guess I’m pretty good at hiding it…after all these years…
  • Me: Do you engage in regular exercise?
  • A: Of course!
  • Me: Are you only ProAna or are you ProMia too?
  • A: I’m both.
  • Me: Do you identify with one more than the other?
  • A: No, they’re both pretty equal.
  • Me: So you practice ED rituals, like fasting, along with binging and purging?
  • A: Yep. I fast about one to two days a week.
  • Me: How do your habits affect your body?
  • A: I actually have a lot of health issues…my stomach is torn apart from the vomiting…and laxatives. I get sick a lot. I guess I’m just kind of weak.
  • Me: Do you practice self‑harm?
  • A: No, not anymore.
  • Me: What did you do?
  • A: I use to burn myself.
  • Me: Did you do it as a way to release emotional tension or as a punishment for eating?
  • A: I would say it was a mixture of the two.
  • Me: Would you say you’re suicidal?
  • A: Oh no! Not at all!
  • Me: Have you experienced any kind of trauma? Or were you ever bullied or taunted about your weight?
  • A: No…it was more of an internal thing. You hear this voice in your head that tells you, “you can’t do it…you will always be fat!” I guess you just do what you can to keep it quiet.
  • Me: So, would you say you hate yourself or you hate the food? In all this, who’s the true enemy?
  • A: Ummm, I would say the food. The food is the enemy. If it wasn’t for the food, there wouldn’t be a problem.
  • Me: How do you see yourself, from one to ten?
  • A: A two.
  • Me: What do you like about yourself? Really, it can be anything…at least one…?
  • A: If I had to say, it would be my eyes.
  • Me: Okay. What do you dislike?
  • A: Everything else!
  • Me: Where do you receive the most pressure to be thin?
  • A: Society…definitely! I will never fit in…I’ll never meet up to the standards of what it takes to fit in.
  • Me: Who is your ideal thinspiration?
  • A: Miley Cyrus.
  • Me: Are you proud you’re ProAna?
  • A: No…no, no, no. Really. Over the years, it’s been like an on‑again off‑again kind of thing. I’ll see what I’m doing and just think it’s so stupid! Then I have those moments where I’m called back. Once you’re in, you’re in for good…unless you really get help…like real help.
  • Me: Have you ever been to treatment?
  • A: No, but I probably will. Eventually…
  • Me: So, you don’t see being ProAna as a lifestyle, you see it as a sickness?
  • A: I mean, I know it’s bad! Obviously! But really, it’s like this battle between good and evil. You want to be happy with yourself, but Ana says you won’t be, unless you lose more weight. Every time you do, it’s just never good enough. You always have to keep going…
  • Me: How do you feel Ana has affected your life?
  • A: Ehhh, it’s alright. I’m okay with it; it doesn’t take too much from me.
  • Me: Overall, are you happy with life?
  • A: Sometimes. Most of the time, I’m just depressed.
  • Me: Could you imagine living this way, for the rest of your life?
  • A: Yeah…it wouldn’t be that hard.
  • Me: Would you rather live a long, healthy life or die young, but skinny?
  • A: Young and skinny! Definitely…
  • Me: If you knew someone who wanted to be ProAna, what would you tell them?
  • A: I would tell them it’s a bad idea. You won’t be happy because you’ll never be pleased with yourself. You will feel scared, alone, sad, and will always have bad feelings that will never, ever, go away. You will always have a low self‑esteem. Always…
  • Me: Do you want help, so you can stop living ProAna?
  • A: I do and I don’t. I’m sick of feeling like this and I’m sick of living in secrecy. At the same time, this is all I know. To think of living any other way is just scary…it seems impossible. The way I live, is what I know…it’s familiar. Ana is the only way.

 

END INTERVIEW

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Challenge Yourself!

Series: “The Self and Suicide”

Challenge Yourself!

To conclude this series, here are some links to help further our insight….enjoy!

  1. Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support
  2. A Guide to Moving Forward, After a Suicide Attempt
  3. 14 Timeless Ways to Live a Happy Life
  4. Reprogram Your Thinking: A Happy Brain, for a Happy Life
  5. 10 Easy Ways to Make Personal Connections
  6. 8 Simple Tips to Feel Better About Yourself

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Watching The Bridge

Series: “The Self and Suicide”

Watching The Bridge

WATCH: The documentary The Bridge .

Take note of the following:

  • Characters: If you were to commit suicide, would a public bridge be your first choice? Do you believe suicidal people have a subconscious draw into one mode of suicide, over another?
  • Situation: Do you think you could detect whether or not someone is about to kill themselves? Do you feel, if you were in the same area as the person, you would suspect his/her intentions?
  • Reaction: Upon encountering a suicidal individual, would you try and interfere, get someone else to help, or observe from a distance? If the person goes through with the suicide, how would his/her death affect you? Would you feel blameless, guilty, sad, haunted, angry…?
  • Mood: If you saw someone kill themselves, would you feel better or worse about your current circumstances? Would you be grateful or hateful, regarding your own life?
  • Setting: People kill themselves in many places: jumping off buildings, throwing themselves into traffic or train tracks, hanging in a closet…sadly, the list goes on. What difference do you think it makes, that those in The Bridge, chose this location for their ultimate escape?
  • Society: Do you feel the people around you have the power to make a difference? If you were suicidal, would you go to a public place, with the hope that someone will reach out and help you? Would you commit the act in private, protecting others from having to deal with you?
  • The Aftermath: Depending on how and where someone commits suicide, there will be something left behind. If you came across a dead body, of someone you love, how would that make you feel? If you decided to commit suicide, would you want people to find you or would you do it in a place, where you’ll be washed away, like The Bridge? What do you think this line of thinking says about you, as a person?

The Bridge

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Suicide is an epidemic. We must be conscious and try to make a difference.

When we acknowledge others, and make an effort to be kind, we can help create connections. Little by little, we can help strengthen the unity and wellness of humanity.

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The Ones Left Behind

Series: “The Self and Suicide”

The Ones Left Behind

For those who are suicidal, there’s always the question: “If I died today, who would be affected?”

In deciding to commit suicide, these are the common responses:

  1. No one will notice
  2. No one will care
  3. Everyone would be better off

People who contemplate suicide may acknowledge their close relationships, affirming who their death will impact, yet to follow through with the suicide, they resort to the aforementioned rationalizations. Living to benefit the lives of others, simply prolongs the suicidal person from their ultimate escape.

Suicide's Effect on Loved Ones

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After someone kills themselves,  the death will have to be dealt with it. The ones who have to address the suicide, range from loved ones, the authorities, or the government; if an individual’s life is taken, someone has to respond to it.

The suicide survivors  are left wondering why the person killed themselves, along with what could’ve been done to prevent it.

After an individual commits suicide, the ones left behind  have a difficult time comprehending the situation. The reactions to death by suicide differ, but what’s important is learning how to deal with the loss, along with managing the inevitable grief .

No matter what, after an act of suicide, there will always be someone left to pick up the pieces. We must stay strong. While there’s no cure for suicidal thoughts, there is strength in numbers; we must remember how our actions will affect those around us. If we can, it is our obligation to reach out and support one another.

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Watching The Virgin Suicides

Series: “The Self and Suicide”

Watching The Virgin Suicides

WATCH: The movie The Virgin Suicides

Take note of the following:

  • Characters: Who do you identify with? Who do you feel is highly susceptible to suicide?
  • Mood: Are there any points, in time and essence, you feel you can relate to? When do you feel sudden rushes of emotion?
  • Setting: Do you feel trapped by your circumstances? How much do your immediate surroundings affect you?
  • Personal Response: If you knew the Lisbon sisters, how would you react to them? Would you befriend them or ostracize them?
  • Role Play: If you lost a sibling or parent to suicide, what would you do?
  • Emotions: If someone kills themselves, is it wrong to make it known? With suicide being a sensitive subject, should you address those affected by the aftermath or is it best to let them come to you?
  • Society: What part do the townspeople play in what happens to the Lisbon sisters?

All Five Libson Sisters

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The Lisbon sisters are notorious, young and attractive; to the town, they are mysterious and intriguing. We can’t always judge people by how they appear to be…the secrets held within, determine our true identity.

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All Suicidal People Are the Same…Right?

Series: “The Self and Suicide”

All Suicidal People Are the Same…Right?

With suicide, the ambiguity of such an extreme act has caused people to form misconceptions as to who is suicidal.

Society claims suicidal people are:

  • Stupid
  • Lost
  • Selfish
  • Death‑Seeking
  • Cowards
  • Weak
  • Crazy
  • Lonely
  • Attention‑Seeking
  • Sinners

For suicidal people, certain stressors trigger an overflow of misery, causing a severe breach in one’s threshold for pain. At this point, they will do anything to rid themselves of suffering…the willingness to endure the pain is lost. Desperate for a solution, suicide becomes their only option.

Clearly, with such a harsh portrayal of those who have suicidal tendencies, it’s no wonder why some people feel restricted in talking through their issues. Naturally, we fear facing the judgment, embarrassment, contempt, or ridicule that rests within discussing suicide, it being one of the many taboo topics society feels are better left alone.


Escape the Pain

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Suicide isn’t an escape from life, it’s an escape from pain! If their pain could be lifted, allowing them to be healed, those who contemplate suicide would be able to deal with life. Sadly, this magical remedy isn’t easy to come by.

Anyone can be suicidal. We can’t predict who will reach the point of desired death, nor can we come up with a global understanding of why; with that being said, we must do our best not to criticize.

Instead, we should raise awareness and make an effort to show we care.

 

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Are You Suicidal?

Series: “The Self and Suicide”

Are You Suicidal?

The progression of suicidal tendencies varies.

When we’re going through a hard time, passing thoughts like, “I can’t take this anymore!” or extreme thoughts like, “I wish I were dead!” may have popped into our heads, once or twice. For those who are fairly content with life, these ideas are fleeting, declared in a moment of intense emotion.

What’s tricky is when we start to contemplate their validity…that’s when the warning signs pop up!

At this point, we must take note…

Suicide Risk Factors

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If you feel things are becoming too difficult, speak up! If you see someone is struggling, reach out! The longer we fester within the filth of our anguish, the more likely we are to put ourselves in harm’s way.

Suffering in Silence

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