Eating disorders are known as a hidden health crisis on campuses and affect millions of students. Chances are someone you know is dealing with one.
According to anad.org, 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating. This week (Feb. 21-27) is National Eating Disorder Awareness week and it is important to know the facts of these terrible diseases.
Eating disorders affect people of all ages, but have become a serious problem on college campuses everywhere. According to anad.org, 91 percent of women they surveyed from a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder and, of those with eating disorders, 50 percent meet the criteria for depression, according to anad.org.
Andrea Cheatle, a sophomore attending Penn State University has been dealing with an eating disorder since the 10 grade. Cheatle states that she always had bad eating habits, but, by the end of her sophomore year in high school, she started to drastically lose weight and that’s when it became very serious.
“I knew I had a problem and knew it wasn’t normal, I just didn’t want to tell anyone because I didn’t want anyone to tell me to stop. I thought that by the time anyone noticed I had a problem, I would be gone,” said Cheatle.
In the summer of 2012, Cheatle’s mom started to notice her weight loss and mentioned it to her. “My mom and I fought a lot that summer because I wouldn’t admit to anyone that I had a problem; I couldn’t admit it,” she stated.
Back in October of 2015, Cheatle dropped out of her first semester at Penn State and spent four weeks at The Renfrew Center in Philadelphia, where they specialize in helping those who are dealing with an eating disorder.
“Being there was really eye opening for me, every morning we had to get blood taken and get our heart rate checked and when I noticed that my heart rate was so low it really made me more aware of what I was doing to my body.” said Cheatle.
At Renfrew, they have therapy groups with others who are going through the same thing as well as family therapy groups where family members can come and talk with you about what is going on.
Cheatle said, “I still keep in touch with all the girls I met when I was there. It is great support to talk to someone who is going through the same thing as you and it lets you know you’re not alone.”
There is a very likely chance that one of your loved ones, whether it be a parent, a sibling, a friend or a significant other, has an eating disorder. If you want to know what you can do to help them just be supportive and be there for them.
“My friends were very supportive when I told them, but they were also scared because they knew they couldn’t help or do anything, which made it frustrating for both of us because they can’t fix it, I just needed them to be there for me,” said Cheatle.
Cheatle has been dealing with this by surrounding herself with only positivity and she cuts out anything bringing her down immediately, mentioning the fact that it took her a very long time to start doing this. She has also, just recently, tried to be more open with people about everything and reaching out to others.
To those who are struggling with an eating disorder, or don’t know if they have one or not, Cheatle says “Reach out to somebody you trust. Don’t isolate yourself because it will only make you worse. Knowing you have people around you is the most important thing.”
To learn more about eating disorders and how you can help please visit nationaleatingdisorders.org