Iyobosa’s Distorted body image Story (Anorexia Nervosa)
"You can't keep doing this to yourself Iyo!" I yelled at my elder sister who was hunched over the toilet seat trying so hard to throw up the food, she had just eaten and completely ignored me as she kept shoving her fingers down her throat. When I saw she was unfazed by my words or my yelling, I stormed out of the room to go find my mother to stop her from what was now becoming a regular occurrence.
At 26, I was hoping Iyobosa would've outgrown her childhood fantasies of having a supermodel’s body and her warped image about her body weight but I was wrong, she was still that troubled little girl and I didn't understand why. She was very beautiful with shining brown melanin skin, well rounded curves in the right places and healthy weight if you ask me or anyone else for that matter, but Iyo didn't see it that way. She still saw in her mind's eye how she has always seen herself “ the fat and ugly teenage Iyo”. Mind you, she was far from fat at the moment! But, how could I make her see what everyone saw? Every time she stood in front of the mirror, she was pinching and fussing with her belly, arm, and thighs and it was starting to negatively affect her health and life in general.
At first we thought she wanted to become a vegetarian like many of the ladies in the company where she worked as a fashion editor, eating only leaves and grains because she wanted to "lose weight" which she did, she lost a lot of the unhealthy weight she grew up with and we agreed it was a good idea but Iyo was now going too far. She would starve for days and only take weird looking mixtures that smelled horrible claiming they were ‘fat-burning’ smoothies. The part that drove me crazy was her inability to just let herself breathe, she exercised way too much for it to be healthy, to the point of passing out even and then anytime she took a serving of cakes or burgers or ice-cream, she would fuss with it, toss it around her plate, then savour the taste for a bit before running to the bathroom to force it out of her system.
I really worried about her because she truly had no idea how beautiful and just right she looked before this drastic weight loss. Whilst I know there will always be instances at her place of work, where people will paint perfect pictures of slim models and how clothes fit better on them, I know there is no direct attack or expectation that Iyo should have a trim figure afterall, she is not a model but Iyobosa struggled with thoughts of how the society expected her to look, being a staff of a fashion company. Despite her unending and unhealthy weight loss attempts, she still thought she was fat. It was very frustrating! for everyone that loved her, because in our eyes, we saw the exact opposite- a slim and perfect figure Iyo, whilst she saw a fat and unattractive version of herself.
She was abnormally conscious of her body weight and had distorted images in her head of what she looked like because she was constantly scrutinizing and comparing, working out tirelessly until she's completely exhausted, using appetite suppressants as well to keep hunger at bay- it's almost unbelievable how someone could have such a negative and unrealistic view of her body, I wanted to help so I called the only person I thought could, her boyfriend.
Chidi was the love of Iyo's life, he was the one person who knew the right things to do, right things to say to Iyo to calm her down but they had been in a huge fight recently when he suggested that she 'get help' after she was admitted for severe exhaustion because she worked herself out till she collapsed on the said day. She thought that it was a ludicrous idea to suggest therapy because she wasn't crazy. Recently, she started having bouts of dizziness, following which she was diagnosed with severe anaemia by her GP. Further investigations done on her, revealed various chemical and hormonal imbalances. She also recorded a BMI, far lower than expected. Her doctor, hearing that she puts her fingers down her throat to induce vomiting and the many other unhealthy and overzealous approaches to weight loss, then insisted on a mental evaluation that she very reluctantly agreed to.
The Psychiatrist, Dr. Kafayah after evaluating Iyobosa said she was struggling with a distorted body Image and diagnosed her with an Eating Disorder called Anorexia Nervosa.
Treatment isn’t instantaneous as I hoped, especially because of the distorted thoughts, she still battles in her head. She is in therapy now, to help her recognize and acknowledge her faulty thinking patterns, to see her body as it really is and to identify and get comfortable in her agreed body weight. We are also aware of a high possibility of her reverting to her unhealthy habits. Her Psychiatrist had mentioned that for most people it would be a lifelong and continuous struggle. Since she started treatment, she is on some medications and has thankfully, been committed to her therapy sessions. As the days go by, she's become happier, looks healthier with no more over exercising, forceful vomiting or appetite suppressants, none of those foul looking and smelling smoothies she used to make too.
She still frets now and again, whenever anyone compliments her rounder figure but with therapy, she is able to resist the impulse to return to her previous ways. She is yet to appreciate her curves, but readily accentuates them when she dresses up, and there is a new spring to her step when she walks. I am so happy and at peace!, so is Chidi and my mom. She and Chidi’s relationship is on the mend, I'm hoping for wedding bells soon, because Chidi understands her mental health struggles and is ever so supportive of her continuing to see Dr. Kafayah of EmpathySpace consulting Services for it.