Is Addiction A Disease — Or A Choice?
I remember the first time I heard the term anorexia nervosa. It was February 4, 1983 — the day Karen Carpenter died. I was quite familiar with her music — there was no mistaking that velvety, sultry voice — but I had no idea she was sick.
In the 1970s, you couldn’t turn the radio dial in your wood-paneled station wagon without stumbling across a song by The Carpenters.
Her death, while tragic, brought a lot of awareness to anorexia. It became the subject of magazine articles, movies, and after-school specials.
I was fascinated by it — but mainly because it made no sense to me.
Why on Earth would someone refuse to eat?
Mind you, I was 13 years old at the time, and also overweight, so I saw anorexia as the polar opposite of my problem.
I couldn’t fathom why someone wouldn’t eat food — when food was so damn delicious.
If I could only hurl my rotundity into the body of someone with anorexia, surely, their problems would be solved. I would have no problem eating for two.
But I also secretly hoped that I would get anorexia (just for a few months) so I could lose all of my extra weight. Neither of these were well-thought-out plans.
Now I know better, and while I’ve never had anorexia myself — I get it.
I know exactly what it’s like to repeat a behavior that you know isn’t good for you — even if it might be killing you.
I referenced Karen Carpenter and anorexia because it was something I once couldn’t understand.
What was going on in her mind?
Couldn’t she see how gaunt she looked in the mirror?
How could someone so attractive and gifted be unaware that she was destroying herself?
Why would anyone choose to do this?