So says Selma Lowndal Mugstad Lerand (19) from Trondheim. She suffered from anorexia from the end of tenth grade until the end of high school. Today, she’s open about the disease and has published a book about it with her mom, among others.
Last week, she posted a video on TikTok, where she talks about the things her eating disorder stole from her youth.
It’s a hell of a disease to get out of. I posted the video as a kind of warning to remind people how bad it is, she told Nettavisen.
Responded to a high school question
Leraand says she has posted TikTok videos about the disease since the book was published. Last week, the video was about how the disease has reduced her.
The impetus for the video was the newspaper issue Title He had it about Blossofol High School in Trondheim, where eating disorders were a growing problem. The school’s principal, Sarah Ollestad, says that after working in secondary schools for 15 years, she has noticed the problem is getting more and more in scope.
– We always have students who are seriously ill. Those who are out of school, because they are either hospitalized or under follow-up and do not have a full academic offer, she tells the newspaper.
– It hurts to think about it
The case touched something in Leraand, who took to TikTok to talk about his experience with the disease.
– I was really touched by reading the article. Thinking of everyone who ends up in this.
Both the first and second year of high school were affected by the disease.
For me, they are empty black holes, where other people have memories and do things.
The exchange was something she had looked forward to since she was a child. In the second year of high school, the plan was to travel to France. That plan was canceled due to illness. She says there was nothing she could do to convince her parents to fire her.
– It hurts to think today. The exchange dream is shattered by anorexia.
Leraand says that the disease also affected her after that. She recovered before the end of high school, but had no choice to do anything but take a year off the following year.
Mom and Dad didn’t think it was safe for me to leave if I got sick again. I was also not allowed to join the army because of my history.
Experiences that many people misunderstand
Leraand says there are a lot of people who misunderstand the meaning of disease.
Among other things, there is a stereotypical person that most people imagine when they think of someone with the disease. So I made it clear that you don’t need to be skinny or be an anorexic girl.
She says she has also noticed that people find it impressive that people with the disease can eat so little.
– I want to show that illness is not a pleasant thing.
In addition to the impression that people misunderstand what the disease is, she feels that people find it difficult to open up about it.
– There are many people who comment and communicate behind anonymous users. I also understand that people struggle with being open minded.
For those who suspect someone around them may have a difficult relationship with food, she has advice.
– I would say the most important thing is to bring it up. Few dare. It’s fine to say something general, like asking if a person is healthy.
She says many are afraid to bring it up for fear of harming her. She doesn’t think there is any reason for that.
– I think it takes a lot to show you care that you can get hurt. A lot of people like to keep the disease a secret, and they probably won’t tell it, but at least you’ve instilled an idea.
Open up about the disease
Choosing to be upfront about the disease began with her mother, Kari Löwendal-Mogstad. She is a physician and has previously published a book on body pressure.
When Mother was going to write a new book, the question arose of whether Leraand would like to contribute to the book.
The healthier you are, the more engaged you are. Writing became therapy.
She adds that there was always room for her to opt out of the book. She wasn’t sure whether to do it or not, but eventually decided to join.
– I was so nervous about making it public. There were less than a dozen people who knew I was sick before that.
She says the response afterward has been exclusively positive.
– I was prepared for the worst, it surprised me.
She goes on to say that she has experienced people reaching out who say they are grateful and feel comfortable with the content you post.
– I feel strongly about openness. I know how it feels when you don’t want anyone to know.
Irene Kingswick is the General Secretary of the Rådgivning Eating Disorders Organization (ROS). She told Nettavisen that what all eating disorders have in common is that there are downsides to the disease.
The most frightening thing is that you start to isolate yourself, withdraw from friends, and have a deteriorating quality of life. You become good at manipulation, appearing as if you’ve had a meal, and making excuses not to eat with others. It’s a dangerous spiral, Kingswick says.
She adds that eating disorders not only affect the amount of food you eat, but also your social life.
You may become socially malnourished. Many feel lonely. For some, it may be depression that leads to an eating disorder, but it can also be the other way around.
– Just getting smaller and smaller
Kingwick says that during the pandemic there was a significant increase in the number of people with eating disorders, and that the trend only increased after the pandemic ended.
The expert believes that this has a lot to do with the body stress caused by social media among young people.
It increased a lot and kept increasing. Especially in the case of anorexia, there is an alarming increase.
She explains that young people feel they have to perform in many areas and the sum is that they feel they are not enough – something that can be difficult for some to deal with.
– Those who first appeared with anorexia are getting younger and younger. It is a period in life when many are unsure of themselves and young people do not look at what is right and wrong as adults do.
– Adults should take the initiative to a greater extent
What do young people who may be on the path to anorexia need to hear?
Oftentimes it is about uncertainty. The self-esteem thing is not quite there. They must hear that you are good enough the way you are. It’s not easy being young in today’s society, Kingswick says, when you’re bombarded with demands, and notes that this applies to both boys and girls.
Young people need people around them who care about them and have time for them, Kingwick says, adults who do something other than just sit and look at the phone.
– They need to do activities and talk together. They need to be seen. Obviously, there is no simple recipe for how to achieve this, she says and continues:
– But, by and large, adults should set a good example and show the little ones that there is something other than social media, that there are other ways to communicate.
I have seen an increase
Stein Frostad is the Senior Physician in the Department of Eating Disorders at the University Hospital Hokland and an expert in eating disorders. It also calls out the alarming trend that began during the pandemic.
It also calls for the alarming increase in the prevalence of anorexia.
– Particularly among children and young people, we have seen an increase in patients with anorexia, and it seems that more are suffering from it and that there are more people with severe anorexia.
He went on to say that those who develop anorexia are most often in their early teens, but cases in early childhood have also been reported, but this is rare.
Many child and youth psychiatry departments across the country are reporting a significant increase in the number of patients and more patients with severe anorexia. In addition, many units within adult psychiatry also have many referrals for acute anorexia. We don’t know for sure what caused this increase, but many think it may have been important that many children and young people went alone during the pandemic. Increased use of social media is also likely to play a role, but this has not been demonstrated, says Frostad and adds
We are concerned that capacity issues will mean that many people must wait for health care and become sicker while they wait. So this can become a long-term problem for many patients, relatives and for health services.
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