Eating Disorders Are Largely Genetic

Fusion

Evidence is mounting that genetics heavily influence who suffers from eating disorders.

Both anorexia and bulimia are debilitating psychiatric diseases, but scientists have had trouble identifying exactly what causes them. Now, a group of researchers has identified a couple of gene mutations that seem to appear in people who suffer from the disorders.

Michael Lutter, an assistant professor at the University of Iowa and senior author of a new study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, said during an interview with Fusion that the mutations impact something called a transcription factor, which is a protein that basically allows genes to do their job.

The researchers studied two multi-generational families with a history of eating disorders. Members with an eating disorder were more likely to have the gene mutations. The results might help combat the idea that people who suffer from anorexia or bulimia are someone weak.

Broadly, both mutations inhibit…

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The Talk

Hey guys I hope you’re having a good week so far!

So I’ve been struggling with something lately and I’m honestly not sure what to do about it. I know I haven’t posted on here about it, but I’ve been dating this guy for a little over a month now. I gotta say, it’s incredible having a boyfriend who treats you like gold and always tells you you’re beautiful but I somehow feel like I’m lying to him.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m really into him but there’s a huge part of my life he knows nothing of and that’s my eating disorder. He was there when my Grandma passed away and I loved that about him, but now that we’ve been dating for a bit and the feelings between the two of us are getting stronger I feel as if though I should tell him that I have an eating disorder; I’m just not sure how to go about it.

I don’t know how to tell him that lately every meal has once again been a struggle, that I spent years obsessing over things such as weight, calories and working out. Yes I’m trying to stay in recovery right now, but I can’t shake the feeling that if I want this to work with him, he needs to know about it. We haven’t gone out to dinner yet, it’s something I’ve been avoiding but sooner or later it’s going to happen and I really don’t want that to expose my secret.

So I guess what I’m asking of you all who read this, and have had a similar conversation with a boyfriend or girl friend, is how do I do this? I’m terrified he won’t see me as he sees me now. I don’t even know how to start the conversation out or even what words to use. I’m scared he’ll see me as weak or broken and that he’ll get scared and break up with me.

Please comment on this post with any tips or words of wisdom.

Thanks guys!

Why I’m Better for Having a Relationship with my Grandma.

Over the year that my Grandma was in a nursing home due to her stroke and heart attack so many people tried comforting my loss with the phrase “you’re lucky to have such a strong connection with your Grandma; most people your age don’t have that”. Now, when she was alive that phrase angered me. When living in the state of anticipatory grief, anything anyone says to you is brushed off and I believe that idea is relevant to a lot of people. For me, I was searching for some magical key phrase from someone that would alleviate my sadness and grief, but nothing that was said to me was ever good enough. People’s best attempts at comfort were seemingly insignificant, ignorant and shallow.

Yet now that my Grandma is gone, I’m in the actual grief process. Mornings I wake up crying, staring at the pictures I have of her on my nightstand. Countless hours throughout the day her memory comes to mind, and I find myself at a loss when I catch myself thinking of stopping by the nursing home after class to go see how she is today. Nobody said grief and the stages of grief were easy or simple, but actually being all in, is a difficult place to be in.

But I don’t want to focus on the negative for this, instead I want to twist it a bit and focus on the positive impact my Grandma had on my life, and still has even though she has passed. It all comes back to the idea people told me, that I am lucky to have had a relationship like the one I did with my Grandma. As the days and weeks pass, I’m beginning to realize how lucky I truly am to be her Granddaughter.

We can learn a lot about life from our Grandparents, if we take the time to get to know them. So let me tell you some key points that stick out to me when I think about the woman who so heavily influenced me not only in childhood but as I grew into a young adult.

She was born in the late 1920’s and was growing up in the Great Depression era. Before she could graduate school she dropped out and began working so she could help out her family. In this time, education wasn’t as highly needed as providing for your family, but even without a diploma my Grandma had so much wisdom, the kind that life experiences can only teach you.

When she met my Grandfather and later married him, they tried to have children, yet had several stillborns, but their determination and longing to have a family caused them to keep trying and in the end my two uncles and mother were born. You know the cliche “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”? Most people after a couple of stillborns would have given up that dream to have a family with the one they love; although I don’t know much about who my Grandma was at this age, the fact that she was a strong and determined woman is evident. I’ve always said that I wanted to be her when I grow up, and this strength she mustered when the odds seemed against her is what I’m talking about.

She was a homemaker her whole life and did everything for the family; she loved to travel and spend time at the ocean. Grandma loved with all of her heart and never once wanted anyone to worry about her, yet she worried endlessly about everyone else. I wouldn’t necessarily classify this as a literal martyr, but in the emotional aspect I would. I remember after my Grandpa died when I was 13, my mom and I spent the night at her house so she didn’t have to be alone. It was something I didn’t even recognize until mom and I talked about it some years later, and that is the fact that Grandma didn’t cry in front of us. Knowing her, she held it in as to not be a burden to us, and it’s also that pride that I believe a lot of people in her generation were raised on. How can someone the day they lose the love of their life, the man they were married to for over 50 years, not shed a tear the night of their beloved’s death? But as me and my mom always say, that’s Grandma.

It’s been shown in research that the relationship a Grandparent has with their adult grandchildren is beneficial to both sides. For the older adult in the relationship, their connection with the grandchild helps bridge that generation gap; we as adult grandchildren, just by living our lives, help keep them integrated into society as much as is possible. Our own generations culture is kept up when we spend time with our grandparents, and they are less of a minority or outsider in the world. That’s why I always disliked nursing homes. When Grandma first entered into the place she would ultimately die in, I remember how impersonable it was. There was no outside influence on the place, and the staff seemed to try and go back in time with what the older generation should like. Black and white movies played constantly in the common area near the nurses station, and the only thing I saw that was current was the attitudes and mannerisms of the staff. Now that I think about it, there wasn’t even up to date magazines for the residents to read, no books on the shelves or anything that resembled a normal life. Even though my own Grandma couldn’t communicate back with me, I made sure to keep her up to date on everything that was happening in my own life. Not because I felt I had to, but because I know she would want to hear of the things I was doing with my life. The research of bridging the gap, so to speak, makes sense. It was never a conscious decision, but as a grandchild, simply being who I am with my Grandma, at least I hope, helped keep her feeling as if though she belonged.

Now on the other hand, and I slightly touched on this already, the adult grandchild & grandparent relationship also touches the lives of us in the younger generation. If you’re familiar with psychology you know the stages of development. As I was growing up I spent many days down at my Grandparents’ house. From the time I was an infant I was exposed to their generations culture and if I’m being honest it had such a profound influence on my own life. There was something intriguing to me as a child, seeing the things of the generations before me. Spending time looking through the mass amounts of pictures from the early 1900’s, seeing people I had never met but were still family by blood, listening to the music my Grandma enjoyed and even seeing how fulfilling their life was even though they lived without many of the “needed” things our generation views as necessities.

The relationship I have with my Grandma bridged that gap between our generations. I grew up in those early stages of development with my grandparents, and as I grew older I had such an admiration for their generation. I loved the music they grew up with, the colorless black and white films were fascinating to me and the years of wisdom my grandparents built up just from simply living their lives and doing the best they could with what they had, I believe played a role in molding me into the old souled young adult I am today.

So getting back to the statement I opened with, yes I am very lucky to have had such a connection with my Grandma. It makes me sad to think that she may not have ever known how much I looked up to her, how much she influenced me, but I find peace in knowing that even if she didn’t know, that her life lessons and everything I ever learned from her will continue to be of high importance as I continue on living my own life.

Goodbye’s the Saddest Word

I lost one of my biggest role models on March 4th. It’s crazy to think that the day after I wrote the post about my Grandma being in palliative care, she would pass away not even 24 hours later. In the weirdest way it made me feel better that I saw her an hour and a half before she died. I got to say my goodbyes to her and had one of the most heartbreaking conversations I’ve had to have in my life, yet for her it was liberating. She had been hanging on in this state for over a year, and as her condition got worse, she still  continued to fight to stay alive. Grandma always worried about others, and it wasn’t until she passed away that I learned of how she especially always worried about me. I’m the youngest of her 3 grand kids, and I was the closest to her. So that morning when I went to go see her before I had therapy I decided to have the conversation I got my mothers blessing to have with Grandma.

I told her that it was alright if she wanted to go; I’d be alright, the family would be alright and I’d still be in school. I told her how well I was doing, and that I’d continue to do ok after she was gone. I told her I loved her with all my heart and that it was ok for her to go…. Almost 2 hours later she was gone.

Now it’s been 2 weeks, and my heart is still grieving. People tell me there’s no time limit on grief and that I shouldn’t make myself kick out of my grief process. School has been particularly hard to go to, I think because I now associate it with making Grandma proud, and at the same time knowing she won’t be there when I graduate next May. Life goes on even after the goodbyes, the wake and the funeral and we who still have breathe in our lungs and a beating heart can do nothing but get back into our lives the best we can.

It feels like a giant piece of my life is gone, but that promise I made to Grandma that I’d be ok makes me want to continue living my life and making her proud by my hard work in school. She wouldn’t want me missing classes or not going to work because of her, and as much as it’s hard to get out of bed in the mornings, I make myself do it in an honor to her.

Palliative Care & Anticipatory Grief

So yesterday the nurses stopped the majority of my Grandma’s medication and reduced her tube feed a little bit. She’s in what you would call palliative care, so now it’s all up to her when she wants to go. For those of you who don’t know what palliative care is the World Health Organization defines Palliative Care as:

Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.

I thought hearing the update from my mom today would make things easier on us, but the anticipation is still there, and it’s getting worse now. None of you have ever met my Grandma, but she is such a strong, independent and stubborn woman, so the fact that now her days are up to her scares me because I know she’s stubborn enough to keep going like this for months or even another year.

They took her off the thyroid medication, blood thinner, antibiotics for her pneumonia and as I said before they reduced her tube feed because they can’t legally remove it from her. The scariest thing is that she’s no longer on the blood thinner that has been keeping her blood clots in the brain and heart from getting bigger and causing another stroke or heart attack.

With all of this happening my mom and I have been talking and we all agree that we think Grandma needs to hear that it’s alright if she wants to let go. Truth be told I avoided going to visit her today because I know what I eventually have to say, and I don’t want to have an end of life talk with my Grandma. Even up until now I’ve been her Grand-baby, and I don’t want to say goodbye to her and give her that permission to go. I know I have to tell her that I’ll be alright, that I’ll get through it but I don’t know how much I believe it. I’m already fighting like hell to keep it together. I’m working my ass off in college because of her, I’m trying like hell to keep my recovery for her. I want to be alright because I know she always worried about me and everyone else.

Being in this position isn’t easy. The past few months her nurses have told us she wasn’t going to pull through this pneumonia but Grandma always did. So now with her being in palliative care I don’t even know what to expect. I don’t want her to die, I’d give anything to have her stay alive and be my Grandma again, but I don’t want her being this hollow shell of a person any more.

I live everyday wondering if my life is going to change forever that day. I never go without my phone any longer and when I’m out I have the ringer on and I always dread the day I see my moms name pop up on my phone at an odd time of the day. It’s all killing my mom too. She’s reaching a breaking point with this and she’s not herself as of late. She seems distant and exhausted. I understand why she is the way she is, I just wish there was something more I could do for her to help get her through this.