Eating disorders start with a poor image of oneself


IMAGE / Mr. Santiago Alvarez / flickr

Anorexia Nervosa is a psychological and possibly life-threatening eating disorder. It is represented in this photo by how a people may see themselves as being bigger than what they are when they look into a mirror.

“Once is too often,” Mrs. Amy Graham, health teacher, said.

Statistics show that many lives are taken due to Anorexia Nervosa, also called AN.

AN has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness. It is estimated that 10 percent of individuals with AN will die within 10 years of the onset of the disorder.

A Personal Story

A Kearsley freshman, whom we will call Danielle, chose to share her story as long as she remained anonymous.

Danielle was diagnosed with anorexia and bulimia in the sixth grade

“I wore big sweatshirts, avoided food, and when I did eat I never once counted my calorie intake,” Danielle said.

There is a particular day Danielle will always remember — the day she was hospitalized for her disorder.

“When I was admitted into Hurley Medical Center, I was torn between thinking this was the worst day of my life for my parents’ sake or of the simple fact that it was going to be the worst day of my life because it was time for me to try and fight this,” Danielle said. “This devastated many of my loved ones, as they wondered how to accept the fact that they let their daughter get this sick without recognizing it.”

Telling her story was emotional for Danielle.

I was on the verge of death, I vividly remember. All because I was insecure with what I seen in the mirror.”

— Anonymous Kearsley freshman

But Danielle opened up unexpectedly and, speaking in a low tone, said what hurt her the most.

“Hearing the words from the doctor made my situation surreal,” Danielle said. “The doctor said to me, ‘Danielle, this is going to kill you if you don’t stop.'”

Danielle added that that was not the only thing that stopped. She said she was pretty sure her mom’s heart stopped as she cried profusely.

“I was on the verge of death, I vividly remember. All because I was insecure with what I seen in the mirror,” Danielle said.

Even after being AN free for four years, Danielle said it is an uphill battle every single day as she tries to fight what she sees in the mirror.

AN Affects Loved Ones

Due to AN being as life threatening as it is to many young children, family and friends suffer from the effects of this illness as well.

Sophomore Jonathon Conley has been hit close to home with this illness.

“I had to witness someone I love not love themselves the way I do,” Conley said. “They thought that the only way out of the situation was to form an eating disorder that nearly took their life.”

Through Conley’s heartache, he continues to maintain a positive attitude.

“Some days are harder than others, but being there for my loved one is what makes it all worth it,” Conley said.

Graham focuses on eating disorders for students like Conley who experience the emotional distress of knowing someone with an eating disorder.

“While teaching the unit I focus on what the disorders are, their definitions, and common struggles,” Graham said. “I spend time on how to recognize it in a friend and what you can do to help your friend get the assistance they need. That friend could be themselves too.”

Kearsley’s Health Curriculum

In Health class, Kearsley’s curriculum is designed for students to recognize the signs of an eating disorder.

Graham hopes students who may suffer from an eating disorder can catch themselves before it become uncontrollable, or that a friend of someone with an eating disorder may recognize it and help that person.

There are two eating disorders people may suffer from:

  • AnorexiaAn eating disorder characterized by markedly reduced appetite or total aversion to food.

Anorexia is a serious psychological disorder. It is a condition that goes well beyond out-of-control dieting.

The person with anorexia, most often a girl or young woman, initially begins with dieting to lose weight.

The individual continues the endless cycle of restrictive eating, often to a point close to starvation. This becomes an obsession and is similar to the addiction to a drug. Anorexia can be life threatening.

  •  BulimiaAlso called bulimia nervosa, It is an eating disorder characterized by episodes of secretive excessive eating (binge eating) followed by inappropriate methods of weight control, such as self-induced vomiting (purging), abuse of laxatives and diuretics, or excessive exercise.

The insatiable appetite of bulimia is often interrupted by periods of anorexia.

Who Suffers From It And Why

Mrs. Kari Coon, a registered nurse, has witnessed cases of eating disorders while at work.

“Since I am a hospice nurse I don’t see it a lot, but when I do it is mostly found in teens to mid-twenties,” Coon said.

An eating disorder is common today due to the pressure of wanting to have the perfect body.

Our society today puts too much emphasis on young girls about being skinny and not enough on being fit and healthy.”

— Mrs. Amy Graham, health teacher

Of course, everyone has a different image in their heads of the perfect body.

Graham has her opinion on what she thinks is the main reason for eating disorders.

“Our society today puts too much emphasis on young girls about being skinny and not enough on being fit and healthy,” Graham said.

Statistics show that during the age of adolescence, young children are prone to eating disorders.

The prevalence of anorexia and bulimia is estimated to be 0.3 percent and 1.0 percent among adolescent and young women, respectively.

The good news is that when someone learns an eating disorder behavior, it can be unlearned.

However, overcoming an eating disorder is about more than giving up unhealthy eating behaviors. It is also about rediscovering who you are beyond your eating habits, weight, and body image.

The featured image is from flickr.