By Kiera Blessing
The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Prevailing stereotypes imply that eating disorders, particularly anorexia, affect only affluent, straight, white women in their teens. But statistics show that at least 30 million Americans — including men and women of all ages and ethnic groups — suffer from an eating disorder, according to National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.
It was a Sunday night in San Francisco, and Krista Sturgeon was staring at a spoonful of peanut butter.
She knew she needed to eat it, but a force that lived in her mind, yet existed beyond her control, would not allow the smooth, brown spread to breach her lips. She wouldn’t, couldn’t, eat.
Sturgeon was suffering from anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder characterized by the obsessive desire to lose weight and refusal to eat food, which can lead to dangerously low body weight.
Statistically it’s the most deadly of all mental illnesses, but those afflicted have a hard time recognizing the gravity of their situation.
Sturgeon calls that night back in 1994 her “peanut butter incident,” and it stands out in her mind even 23 years later. But recognizing her problem was not her turnaround point. She suffered from the disease for another 18 years, from California to Kentucky, and from age 25 to age 42.
“It’s like the anorexia takes on a life of its own in your mind. It becomes its own entity in your mind and you have no say so anymore,” Sturgeon said on a recent day in her Methuen apartment. “The only thing that will satisfy the anorexia is death.”
Today, Sturgeon is a full-time author, activist, public speaker and self-described “queer,” who uses her own life experiences to educate the public about the taboo and little-known horrors of eating disorders, and to instruct doctors and support groups on how to be inclusive to members of the LGBTQ community, like herself.