Eating Disorders

Julia Hardy

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One of the most stigmatized health issues today in society are eating disorders. They are also one that people neglect to talk about. Like the many types of individuals, eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes; however, some might ask themselves, ‘what even is an eating disorder?’ “A psychological disorder characterized by improper and unhealthy eating habits,” explains Ms. Blancas, health teacher at OHS. Included but not exclusive are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge-eating Disorder, Purging Disorder, and many more. Eating disorders greatly impact many people’s lives, not only in their physical appearance and health, but in their social and academic performance as well.

Eating disorders completely disrupt a person’s life. The pressure of trying to limit your food, binge on it, or an other actions related to the disorder, take up the entirety of someone’s thought throughout the day. “I nearly failed Algebra, I could never do homework. I was too fragile to do much of anything but sleep, because restricting food intake directly restricts how much energy you have. Honestly, looking back on it, I have no idea how I kept myself upright most of the time, I was so tired,” an anonymous student at OHS explains. Students already have so much on their plates, and the added factor of an eating disorder can push some over the edge. “Whenever I had too much homework I would never eat. I would say to myself that I was too busy, and it was a good excuse. It convinced my parents as well,” another anonymous student states. Eating disorders are so much more than a physical health problem. Those who haven’t been exposed to the direct effects of an eating disorder don’t understand that they impact every aspect of their lives.

On top of academics, students also have to worry about their social lives as well, especially with the judgement people have toward those with eating disorders. “People feel like they have the green light to judge people,” states Mrs. Hall, counselor for OHS. Some teenagers are already so critical of themselves, and the criticism added with their disorder can sometimes worse their condition. If you don’t know the full story, it is best not to assume things about others. People with eating disorders already have to deal with their own inner battles. “Sometimes it felt like ‘you already ate once a day, you don’t need to do it again.’ I sometimes felt like I deserved what I was doing,” the second anonymous student states. They convince themselves that food isn’t necessary, but it is so important to our health. Many people also believe that only women have eating disorders, which is a very common misconception. Society doesn’t put the pressures of body image on males like they do females, therefore overlooking the idea that males might suffer from eating disorders.  Male eating disorders are very prevalent in certain sports,” states Ms. Blancas. Men are also expected to keep their issues to themselves, as to protect their masculinity. This social pressure is one of the many things that can push someone into a disorder.

Everybody has the potential to develop an eating disorder. Many forget how hard they are to control, and how they affect people. Academics and socialisation are a big part of students’ lives, and are just as affected by eating disorders than physical health.   If you have an eating disorder, or know somebody who does, make sure you let someone know. According to Janene Jorgenson, Nurse at OHS, the Emily Program is a great local resource, as well as the Seattle Children’s Hospital – Eating Disorder Program. Get the help you need.