Food for thought.
A student discusses an increase in eating disorder-related illnesses
“You have an eating disorder.”
I heard this fact for the first time four years ago when I got admitted to the Alberta Children’s Hospital in the fall of 2008. Hearing the words “eating disorder” sent a wave of unknown emotions through my frail body. I remember laying in my hospital bed that first night, after forcing a dinner of soup down my throat, coming to accept the horrifying fact that I had Anorexia. This was the first step I made towards my recovery. At that moment I knew that this was going to be one of the hardest things I would ever have to do, but I also knew I had to win this fight against my eating disorder.
Symptoms of eating disorders can include repeatedly refusing to take food when offered it, not eating in front of people, isolating oneself from social interactions, and seeming to be completely absorbed in one’s own thoughts. Other symptoms may include an obsession over calories and other nutritional facts, excessive exercising, heightened anxiety, and sticking to strike schedules. Eating disorders are especially common for both men and women during university years because of the heightened level of stress and anxiety. Just because we attend a Christian university doesn’t mean we are protected; they are just as common here at Trinity Western University as they are at any other campus. Eating disorders are commonly mistaken as a “girl problem,” when in fact around 15% of people affected by this mental illness are men. In fact, the rate of male eating disorder hospital admissions has increased by 66% over the last 10 years.
My eating disorder gave me control over my stressful life. Other people have gone through traumatic experiences that give way to their eating disorder, while some simply have body image issues that are strongly influenced by the media’s idea of beauty. All of these, and many other reasons, can lead to eating disorders, which have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.
It has taken me two stays in the hospital, two day-patient eating disorder programs, and numerous doctors’ appointments to get me to the strong state I am now in. Even though these past years have been extremely difficult, so much good has come from this dark time of my life. Because of my combat with Anorexia, I have been drawn to helping others that may be struggling with eating disorders, participating in fundraisers and spreading awareness on this serious, and often taboo, issue. I have also grown more curious about the brain, motivating me to study psychology here at Trinity Western University. God has a lovely way of bringing so much good out of the bad.
So let’s dream, dare, desire, defeat…and eat!
You can contact Megan at mbeyer@ telus.net or the Wellness Centre at email@example.com