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Eating disorders deserve more awareness

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Eating disorders deserve more awareness

Eating disorders are under-represented and unacknowledged. People struggling with them should not fear opening up and speaking out about their disorder.

Eating disorders are under-represented and unacknowledged. People struggling with them should not fear opening up and speaking out about their disorder.

Used with permission: Pixabay

Eating disorders are under-represented and unacknowledged. People struggling with them should not fear opening up and speaking out about their disorder.

Used with permission: Pixabay

Used with permission: Pixabay

Eating disorders are under-represented and unacknowledged. People struggling with them should not fear opening up and speaking out about their disorder.

Ariana Cimino, Staff Writer

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Those who experience them know immediately what I’m referring to, or at least get a sickening sense that they do. 

Maybe your body can’t regulate its temperature. Maybe you always feel bloated. Maybe your organs ache when you lie down or your heart races when you walk briskly to class. Maybe you can’t go out with friends anymore because you hate people watching you eat. 

Or maybe people start to wonder why your teeth are rotting, why your hair falls out in thick clumps, why you constantly crave peanut butter or why you refuse to drink a glass of water. Maybe your throat always hurts, and nothing stays down for long, so you give up on trying to hold it there.  

I’m talking about eating disorders. I don’t mean the cutesy kind you see portrayed in cheesy teen dramas, or the ones used as an incredibly stale taunt of skinny people; I’m referring to the silent and painfully slow killer of over 30 million people in the U.S.  

They’re gross and terrifying, and they happen to more people than one would think, especially to adolescents. And that’s exactly why we need to talk about them. 

It’s tough to want to discuss them. Most people shuffle around the sensitive subjects a conversation entails, and with good reason – there’s absolutely nothing glamorous or beautiful about these mental illnesses.  

To begin, there are many types of eating disorders, and you don’t have to be underweight to have one. The ones most commonly discussed are bulimiacharacterized by binge-eating and then purging, and anorexia, where one may restrict their calories to as low as 100 a day or fast for weeks on end.  

Some others are orthorexia, which is an obsession with supposed clean eating, and binge eating disorder, where the name speaks for itself. 

People who have binge eating disorder may appear overweight, or someone with orthorexia could seem like the epitome of health; even someone with bulimia nervosa is generally able to maintain a healthy weight. If you want to break it down even further, an eating disorder is simply a mental illness that can lead to physical effects; it’s these after-effects that give eating disorders the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. 

It can be difficult to tell if someone close to you is struggling, so pay attention if you see them start to shut themselves off from others, as this is the most common sign. They might have reservations about going to eat, or just slowly slip away from talking to people as often as they used to.  

Based on the type of eating disorder a person has, the effects on their body can be different – however, this doesn’t make any one disorder worse than another. The most common effects between multiple types are hair loss, skin problems, heart issues and eventually, organ failure.  

Because of the terrible effects an eating disorder can have on your body in such a short amount of time, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Many people who struggle with eating disorders say they don’t feel sick enough to get help yet, but here’s the kicker: you’ll never feel sick enough. As soon as your relationship with food starts to deteriorate, you’re sick enough. 

It’s not easy to open up about having an eating disorder. Anyone who has had one knows about the harsh comments that come with it — whether they’re from parents, friends or distant relatives who think they know more about your body than you – people are always quick to comment on any weight change. It’s devastating that people will tell a slightly overweight girl she is in poor health and, all the while, turn a blind eye to a girl with anorexia – or maybe even praise her.  

To anyone struggling, it may seem like a difficult decision, but making the choice to talk about it is so worth it. Recovery is a long and winding road, and it can sometimes be two-steps-forward, three-steps-back; however, I assure you that the end goal of eating your favorite food without worry is the most freeing feeling in the world. After all, life is too short to continue counting your cornflakes. 

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Eating disorders deserve more awareness