Curing hypotension, one letter at a time

Low blood pressure and orthostatic hypotension (a massive drop in your blood pressure when you go from sitting to standing) frequently accompany eating disorders, and I am no exception to this. A recent letter my dad received from our health insurance company provided such a fantastic cure that I had to share it here:

Step One: Get initial blood pressure reading.

Step Two: Read first paragraph.
"As a valued customer of [Health Insurance Company], we want to inform you of an exciting new contest. [Health Insurance Company] is committed to [this state's] health through our unique mission and believe in supporting healthy lifestyles. That's why we're proud to join forces with [local TV station] and The Parade Company for the Biggest Loser: [Big City] Edition.

Step Three: Repeatedly use four letter words and contemplate ripping letter into small shreds and igniting it on the grill when you make s'mores as part of your new anti-anorexia healthy lifestyle. Your face may turn red- this is a normal side effect of rising blood pressure and should be expected.

Step Four: Read second paragraph.
"The contest is simple. Anyone can enter at [website] by telling us their story and why they want to change their life through healthy weight loss. The deadline to enter is July 24. [Health Insurance Company] and [local TV station] will then select six contestants and track their progress towards a healthier future. One of the six contestants will go on to be named [state's] Biggest Loser, win some great prizes and ride on a float during America's Thanksgiving Parade."

Step Five: Feel face turn from red to crimson. Some veins may emerge, especially on the forehead and neck. Again, this is a normal side effect of increasing blood pressure.

Step Six: Read last paragraph.
"It's about eating well and exercising to lose weight, and [Health Insurance Company] is looking forward to helping people take the first step towards a healthier lifestyle. We encourage you to check out the contest details at [website] and spread the word to your employees."

Step Seven: Get another blood pressure reading. Higher? Congratulations! You've cured your low blood pressure. Now it's time for some matches.

Of course, I would like to send the health insurance company links to educated, informed opinions about the general ineffectiveness of dieting (yes, it's still a diet whether you call it a "lifestyle change" or a "contest") and of the health risks of the Biggest Loser in particular. I would love for them to read in detail about my own former workplace's Big Fat Loser contest and how I wound up quitting to save what little sanity remained after being inundated with posters tallying people's weight loss and signs saying "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels."

I would also really REALLY like this Health Insurance Company to know that there are many different aspects to a healthy lifestyle, such as, I don't know, not having an eating disorder. The jury is still out as to whether obesity significantly raises mortality risk; it's not for eating disorders. A girl with anorexia is ten times more likely to die in the following year than a classmate without anorexia. This is the same douchebag insurance company that refused to cover a DIME of my last residential treatment stay because they said it "wasn't medically necessary" or that the facility I went to wasn't in-network. It depends on which denial letter you read, but the results are still the same. Never mind, of course, that I was in and out of the ER several times a week with hypokalemia, was in ketosis, had irregular EKGs, and was underweight and still dropping rapidly.

Committed to healthy lifestyles, my anorexic ass. They're committed to paying out as little money as they possibly can, and they think that by supporting crash dieting, they will save money in the long run and look good in the short run.

Have I cured your low blood pressure, too? Writing this sure cured mine!


sad mom said...

You could refer them to

They can follow her link to this. 'cause, gosh, dehydration and renal failure sound really healthy to me!

Makes me wonder about the IQ of insurance execs.

Ellie said...

Great post! I fnd all your posts so informative and helpful for navigating all the junk that comes along with Eating Disorders. If you have time, I just started a new blog- check it out!

Laura Collins said...

Some day we'll laugh at this dark era of mass hysteria. Now, though we cry. And curse.

I Hate to Weight said...

i find it amazing that with all you're going through, you write
these amazing, informative, thoroughly researched, important, heart-felt posts. hope you're giving yourself a lot of credit.

thank you for all the information you share. so important for all of us.

Cammy said...

"Committed to healthy lifestyles, my anorexic ass."

FYI: That is so going on my bulletin board of quotes. =)

I hope you're doing well, Carrie, keep on swimming.
Much <3, as always.

marcella said...

My problem is likely to be HyPERtension owing to the number of pinches of salt I've taken with advice given to me by the medics surrounding me, therefore this kind of thing, and the similar NHS (yes, that's NATIONAL HEALTH Service, a taxpayer funded service) scheme to pay patients to join a private weight loss scheme, is likely to do me significant harm. Do you think I can sue?

Gwen said...

Infuriating. I saw a Biggest Loser audition commercial this morning and I was yelling at the TV. I'm weird like that. Being overweight is NOT a death sentence. People behave as though that is the case. I think it's bizarre that people equate weight loss with health. Since when is weight the only indicator of the health of the body? It is only one. Just losing weight is going to make a person healthy...and in our cases it actually made us sick.

I wish you all the best in your recovery. I'm rooting for you. I know how hard it is.

Gwen said...

*isn't going to make a person healthy. It must be my subconscious mind being influenced by the mass hysteria all around me :)

Anonymous said...

Here's another cure:

Take a deep breath before reading.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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