Angela Rinaldis tells her story of anorexia, to get help for others
Angela Rinaldis weighed 80 pounds as a law student. She would walk around with her backpack of books, and had bruises all up her spine from not having any flesh to cover her bones, finally this made her sick of being sick. At the age of 24, Angela looked for help and treatment for anorexia at St. Paul`s Hospital. “No one wants to say they have an eating disorder. There was a point where I was uncomfortable too, says Rinaldis. “I`m a lawyer. I stand up in court. I work on big cases. I didn’t want people to think I`m crazy. I mean, I couldn`t eat a sandwich, but now I`m defending your rights. “
“Many witnesses noted that eating disorders, particularly anorexia nervosa, have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. “ Between 10 and 15 percent of people who are diagnosed with anorexia nervosa will die, and 5 percent of those with bulimia. Combined, the disorders kill approx. 1,000 to 1,500 Canadians per year. These numbers are low because the deaths from suicide and heart attacks, are not counted as eating disorder deaths.
The Standing Committee on the Status of Women heard that eating disorders held steady from 2006 to 2013 in all but the youngest patients, with a 42 percent increase in hospitalization among girls aged 10-19 in the last two years of the study. The causes of anorexia, bulimia and binge eating are with genetic, psychological and cultural factors. It is linked to isolation, poor coping skills, and a need for control, perfectionism, unrealistic body image or abuse.
When Rinaldis arrived at St. Paul’s Hospital, she was immediately given intravenous fluids to replenish missing nutrients. She ate small meals designed to ease her into eating again without dangerous reactions such as giving to much food to a starving person, heart failure and seizure.
Rinaldis had a great coping mechanism which she kept busy in other things in life such as helping her mother who was ill, staying on the honour roll and getting a scholarship to the University of BC. Looking back at this mental suffering and physical damage, Rinaldis launched a non-profit organization to help other eating disorder sufferers get treatment early on. More people recognize anorexia, bulimia and binge eating as a mental illness today, which is why some are silent about the condition.
“We are starting to understand as a nation that mental health affects physical health. It’s starting to change, but only in infinitesimal amounts. “
Rinaldis is now a fit-looking recreational hockey player and can finally enjoy a good meal.
“People are often surprised about how much I eat these days. It’s not like I do not have some anxiety in certain situations and certain foods bring up memories, but I am able to work through all that. “
For more information on eating disorders here is a link to:
Eating Disorders among girls and women in Canada
Report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women
Helene LeBlanc – Chair
November 2014 – 41st Parliament, Second Session