Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

March 16, 2014

She was a ‘ghost with a beating heart’

ASHLAND — Be warned that this is a tragic tale of someone who couldn’t believe that others loved her for the person she was.

 We’ll call her “Jane,” but that wasn’t her real name.

 She wasn’t famous or rich. She didn’t live in Hollywood or New York City.

 Jane grew up on a farm in Kentucky. Her family and her husband loved her.

 But she didn’t love herself, particularly her body image.

 Despite being assured repeatedly by friends and doctors that she was not overweight, Jane began dieting and forcing herself to throw up.

 She developed what today are called eating disorders — anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

 She was a pretty young woman, married to a handsome young man, sort of the All-American couple to their community.

 Try as they might, her parents and her husband could not make Jane understand that she was dealing with potentially life-threatening conditions that were impacting her emotional and physical health.

 She apparently didn’t want to believe that her obsession with being thin could have serious, even deadly, consequences.

 Self-starvation impacts body chemistry. As a result, Jane was unable to conceive a child, adding strain to her marriage.

 Eventually, her husband felt he had no choice but to leave her. Her parents understood and cast no blame.

 Emotional issues became more commonplace as Jane grew older. Her body became so emaciated she didn’t have the energy to work.  Her physical appearance was shocking. She was hospitalized frequently.

 Jane began to talk of ending her life. Her behavior was erratic, even with her long-suffering parents who hoped and prayed for help.

 Finally, after 30 years of seeking in vain for what she already had, Jane ended her tortured life.

 As described by author Laurie Halse Anderson, a survivor of anorexia, Jane escaped her sad existence as “a ghost with a beating heart.”

KEITH KAPPES is publisher of The Morehead News, Olive Hill Times and Grayson Journal-Enquirer. Reach him at kkappes@cnhi.com

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