www.whyville.net Apr 6, 2008 Weekly Issue

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The Play of a Thin Life

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"What is the Matter with Mary Jane?" is a play about a recovering anorexic and bulimic. Sancia Robinson shares this traumatic period of her life, having fought the disease for over fourteen years. This monodrama takes the audience into the painful reality of a woman afflicted by eating disorders and shows how the realization that her condition was an illness meant that she could begin the slow process of recovery.

In modern society the media ensnares and tempts us with the concept of, "You have to be thin to have it all." Every day, glossy magazines, television, advertising, film, and newspapers, show that it is in to be thin and, therefore, beautiful who shall inherit the fame and fortune. As night follows day, so success, money, fast cars, and glamorous partners will follow the achievement of a virtuously skinny body.

Anorexia and Bulimia are real diseases because you can't control them, the diseases just take you over. "What we call a disease is our body's reaction to something that interferes with its normal functioning. A disease is the defensive reaction of our body's mechanisms designed to maintain us healthy. We all have these mechanisms. They are necessary to remove disorders in the way our body functions. They also give us warning signals when these disorders begin. To stay healthy, we need to listen and understand what our body is trying to communicate to us." (starthealthylife.com)

"Swedish researches showed that sufferers of anorexia and bulimia have unusually high levels of certain antibodies in their blood. These antibodies are produced by their own immune system in response to infections. It seems that the antibodies then begin to attack chemicals in the brain that control appetite. If the researchers are right, then anorexia could be re-classed as an auto-immune disease." (dailymail.co.uk)

This information shows that anorexia and bulimia are real diseases, "something that interferes with its normal functioning," this links directly to, "antibodies begin to attack chemicals in the brain that control appetite," which, therefore, interferes with its normal function.

In the novel "What is the Matter with Mary Jane," Sancia Robinson is reading a magazine with an article identifying the "Ten Tell-Tale Signs That You Have an Eating Disorder". Sancia reads the article and has her own excuses for showing that she does not believe she has an eating disorder. "Severe weight loss, look I just have this incredibly fast metabolism," "Changes in behavior, oh, right, let's take everyone in the whole world off to the hospital then."

Anorexics and bulimics can't just eat something and they become cured. "The weight loss leaves them with little body fat, but it can also reduce general muscle mass and tone as well, including a weakening of the stomach muscles and possible damage to the nerves which signal the stomach to digest and pass food. If this occurs there can be delays in how efficiently the stomach empties when food is introduced. This situation is often referred to as delayed stomach emptying. If stomach emptying takes too long, food can actually ferment in the stomach and cause bacterial problems. Food can also harden in the stomach, forming solid lumps known as bezoars, which themselves can cause stomach pain and vomiting." (http://www.eatingdisorderexpert.co.uk)

The main concern medical staff have with anorexics is to deal with their physical condition, stabilizing them nutritionally. This is not always simple, as many anorexics are in denial about their condition. They are often brought in for treatment involuntary rather than seeking support on their own and see no reason why they should begin eating.

Anorexics that have put themselves in danger by not eating are severely weakened by malnutrition and may need to be hospitalized and fed through medical apparatus's. Sancia refers to herself in the hospital, suffering with anorexia, that "the embarrassing thing is there's nothing wrong with me. Well nothing a sausage roll wouldn't fix. If I could eat a sausage roll. If I could eat anything. But I can't." This extract of the novel shows that Sancia denies that she has an eating disorder, even though she points out that she can't eat anything.

There is not a sole reason why people become anorexic and bulimic, there are a number of social, cultural and psychological influences that can lead to people coming down with this disease. Anorexics and bulimics become obsessed with becoming perfect and obtaining a flawlessly thin body, even though they are thin they still see themselves as 'fat'. The novel illustrates that Sancia becomes obsessed with the preparation of her food, "I just love to cook, that should tell you something. I love being around food. And you know how it is when you cook, often you just aren't hungry when the meal is on the table." Anorexia and bulimia are diseases that affect the mind and the body, fortunately there are medical doctors, mental health professionals, and dietitians that are involved in the treatment of people who suffer from these disorders.

The psychiatric treatment of anorexia is a difficult process, with just one small piece of the wrong information can send a suffering anorexic spiraling out of control into the tormenting disease of bulimia. This is shown in the novel when Sancia is at the psychiatrics office, "I'm sort of starting to bring my food up a little bit, just vomiting a little bit, now and then. Oh yeah I'm still eating heaps. Oh, then it's no worry, as long as some of it stays down. The most important thing is that I eat. YES. I don't think he realized what he had said 'yes' to." This psychiatrist has just sent Sancia towards the uncontrollable disease of bulimia.

Anorexia and bulimia are real diseases, These diseases can torture the human body through lack of nutrients and vitamins, which can seriously damage a person's health and well-being. A lot of young women are falling victim to these disorders with today's media ensnaring and tempting them that life is better to be thin. These diseases are not just something that you can eat and be cured of; there are long and painstaking treatments, making it even harder as the diseases affect the mind, you have to fight it.

Yours in Whyville,


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