Eating Disorders is an issue I am concerned about. Nationwide, 12.3% of high school students had gone without eating for twenty-four hours or more in order to lose weight or to keep from gaining weight during the last thirty days. Eating Disorders affect a LARGE number of people in the United States. Here is what the statistics state: Approximately, 7 million girls and women struggle with eating disorders and approximately, 1 million boys and men struggle with eating disorders. Over the period of one lifetime, at least 50,000 individuals will die as a direct result of their eating disorder. Without treatment, up to 20% of people with serious eating disorders die. With treatment, the death rate falls to two to three percent (2-3%) (2005 CDC Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance)

An eating disorder is a mental illness that if not treated can be deadly. A person with an eating disorder goes through a period of time when disturbances in eating and exercising occur due to the distorted attitude towards their self-image and self-worth (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research). Anyone can develop an eating disorder, there are no certain age groups, genders or socioeconomic and cultural background in which they happen more too (The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness Organization).

There are three different types of eating disorders that people can develop, which are: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge eating disorder (see below for details). There are many factors that contribute to a person developing an eating disorder or struggling with one. Such factors include the media, family and peer pressures, genetics (which mostly deal with personality traits that can cause you to resist or not to resist developing an eating disorder) and more. I would delve into these contributing factors in more depth, but mainly all that you need to know is that the media portrays an unrealistic and unattainable image of women. Do not believe all that the media tells you, because most of the time they are just trying to sell you something. Remember, you will never keep others happy, but you can keep yourself happy.

This Is My Testimony:

At the age of 14, I had become a monster, one that was eating itself away, and dying from the inside out. These words might sound a little strange to say, but that is exactly how it felt. I was confused and lost in my selfish little world where I only cared to be “perfect.” I refused to see that I was sick with a terrible disease, Anorexia. I was triggered to live with this disease, which I called a “life style”, because of the constant pressure I dealt with everyday at home, being called “fat” and by the images I saw in magazines. I would then spend a lot of time wanting to be perfect like the celebrities shown on magazines and television, and I certainly thought I would achieve this by going to the extremes. This was my daily routine: consume the least amount of food possible (ex: a slice of apple for each meal breakfast, lunch, and dinner), exercise for three hours straight after school, drink a gallon of water and flush food down the toilet every time I had the chance. I kept this going on until I was 85 pounds having been 130 before I began my misery. That was not all I had lost; I also lost a lot of hair, my menstrual period for 6 months, and I had brittle nails and yellow hands.

Did I achieve “beauty and perfection?” No–I only had control, but everyone else said I looked sick and all I wanted then was to be invisible. I saw my mother suffer and I knew it was time to come back to reality and accept help and accept that I would not have control of my life at all times. Fortunately, my mother never gave up on me and she got help from a treatment center, where I slowly recuperated and turned my life around. I did not think I had a purpose in life before, but through treatment and with time, I began to see that I was beautiful. I began to realize that I did have a purpose in life. My purpose in life was to live my life as I truly was and not as the person society wanted me to be.

The lessons that I have learned from this experience have been very significant in my life today. I have learned the courage to face what is very painful with open eyes and I will never cause myself to go through this again because I respect myself. I have learned to recognize that I need help and guidance when going through rough times because I cannot do everything on my own. I have learned to bring compassion, rather than criticism to my flaws and I am committed to treat others in the same way. This is the kind of wisdom that I will share with others.

It is important for anyone struggling with an eating disorder to obtain help and not give up on themselves. If you have a friend that has any of these warning signs, and you think they might be developing an eating disorder, or have one you can talk to your high school counselor, social worker, parent or any adult you can trust. Please do not stay silent; you could save someone’s life.

Anorexia: People who have Anorexia Nervosa have an extreme fear of gaining weight and have a distorted view of their body size and shape (Mental Health First Aid Program). Anorexics strive to keep a very low body weight by restricting themselves from eating, or they will exercise excessively (Eating Disorder Clinic Associated with Women’s Treatment Center).

Bulimia: When someone has bulimia they have the habit of binge eating and purging. Someone with bulimia may undergo weight fluctuations, but rarely will experience the low weight that anorexics have (The Nemours Foundation).

Binge eating: Binge eating can be similar to bulimia in the sense that the binge eater consumes thousands of calories in a very short period of time, but are different because there is no purging involved and the person is overweight (Eating Disorder Clinic). Binge eating disorder affects about 2 million people in the United States (Eating Disorder Clinic), and “Men constitute 40% of those exhibiting binge eating disorders” (The Alliance for Eating Disorders).

by: Ale Carmona