James and I were talking about the harshness of our neighbor’s remarks in regards to Joe’s eating disorder. Dave made some inappropriate jokes, things along the lines of “You gotta be dumb to be that skinny, eat something, then throw it back up!” The ladies kept saying he’s not really sick, he just has bulimia! After learning more about Joe as we have hung out with him, I’m starting to think that there is some cause for their criticism. Joe is very, very dependent. He has good parents, and the basic means to care for himself but prefers to seek the help of others. This may be laziness but I think in part it can be attributed to his mental condition; he seems to me to have convinced himself that he CAN’T help himself. He has very low self-esteem and few opportunities to gain even the smallest achievement. What the kid needs is some serious empowerment.

Anyway; I think the world my neighbors grew up in required that every individual work hard to better their situation, that they rely heavily on themselves as people were risky to trust. I think working hard and personal responsibility were such core elements to survival that when they see someone like Joe who has the means to help himself, but refuses, that behavior is totally unacceptable. If they had done that, they would have gotten nowhere.

One more thing. There’s no way to say this without it sounding horrible and circa the 1600s, but I do think that also contributing to their lack of sympathy is a basic lack of education about mental diseases. Even people who are educated about the seriousness of these conditions sometimes struggle with seeing them as equally debilitating as a physical condition. I really think that in their range of education it’s hard for them to understand the severity and fatality of eating disorders, especially when the disorder makes someone physically reject a vital necessity like food.

 

Just wanted to briefly discuss the neighbors’ standpoint a little bit further so you didn’t think they were totally off the wall. They are actually great caretakers who take pains to watch over us & our home and always make sure we’re doin’ ok. We love them and wouldn’t want to give them a bad rep!

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