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February 22 2016

It’s National Eating Disorder Awareness Week – What You Need To Know by Kerry Silverman

In honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I wanted to inform you about one of the most overlooked mental illnesses. By elementary school, 40-60% of girls are already concerned with their body image and worried about gaining weight. Our society likes to place their own judgements on this disorder, but I’m here to tell you the sad truth of an eating disorder.



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It is life threatening:
Anorexia is actually the number one cause of death amongst mental illnesses. The health consequences of an eating disorder include loss of bone density (osteoporosis), hair loss, abnormally slow heart rate, and many more. Without the correct treatment this can sadly lead to death very quickly.

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It’s not a choice:
Nobody wakes up one morning and thinks to themselves, “Hey! I think I’m going to develop an eating disorder today.” People tend to neglect the fact that an eating disorder is a mental illness.  It is NOT something we pick for ourselves. We don’t lose weight to get attention. We do it because there is a voice inside our heads telling us to do so.



It can not be beat alone:
If you or someone you know is dealing with an eating disorder, please know that it is a battle that can not be fought alone. It is a life altering experience, and every ounce of encouragement and support counts. From my experience with my disorder, I am forever grateful for the people who have stayed by my side through this. I honestly would not have gotten this far without them.

demi lovato fighting every day
It’s not all about food:
Many people unaware of the disorder tend to think that it’s just “not eating,” but that is completely false. Eating disorders come in many variations, and that is why they can be so easily ignored. There are people who like going to the gym, and then there are those affected by an eating disorder who use exercising as a form of purging. The exercise can become obsessive and can get in the way of your daily life.

The term “Anorexia” is not a term to be used loosely:
From someone who is currently suffering from an eating disorder, I ask that this word not be used as a joke. Just as you wouldn’t tell a bald person they look like they have cancer, you shouldn’t tell a thin person they look anorexic. Being told,  “You look so thin,” can be very nice to hear, but being told that you’re going to blow away in the wind is not a compliment.

urmoreimptEating Disorders are not tied to a certain body type:
Despite popular belief, eating disorders don’t just affect thin people. Though the physical conditions may vary, the emotional thoughts can be very similar. Just because a person may be considered overweight by society’s judgement doesn’t mean their illness should be overlooked.



The Disorder does not walk alone:
An eating disorder is much more than meets the eye. Along with the food restriction, purging, and exercise come many other symptoms. Sadly patients with an eating disorder also suffer from distorted body image, low self-esteem, anxiety, and isolation. This takes a very big toll on a person’s social life, and even in recovery, the emotional aspect of the disorder is usually the last to go.

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If you or someone you know is suffering with an eating disorder, the National Eating Disorders Association (nationaleatingdisorders.org) supports individuals and families affected by eating disorders, and serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care. Call their toll free, confidential Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. In addition, Project HEAL funds inpatient, residential, intensive outpatient, and outpatient treatment for applicants suffering from an eating disorder who want to recover but cannot afford treatment. Go to http://theprojectheal.org/apply-for-grants/our-scholarship-progra/ for information about how to apply for a treatment grant OR VISIT WWW.THEPROJECTHEAL.ORG

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