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Starving For Perfection

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(Editor’s note: Students interviewed for this article were willing to talk but would like to stay anonymous due to the nature of the topic)

She hides her actions and thoughts because she doesn’t want people to worry. She eats 200 calories a day in the hope her weight will drop and she will be good enough to herself and to other people. Meantime, her best friend has secrets too. While she’s eating on the regular and nothing seems wrong, when alone at home, the bathroom is her new best friend. Thoughts run through each of their heads wondering how far things have to go before they will be accepted by others.

Anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating, and purging might not mean anything to most people, but to some, it’s an unfortunate lifestyle and struggle. Eating disorders attack a range of new people everyday, but even more so in middle and high school adolescents.

What is an Eating Disorder?

“An eating disorder is something of the brain. It’s something that creeps up on you, and you don’t even notice it,” said a senior student. A sophomore student also stated, “an eating disorder is an addiction to the idea of perfection. It’s seeing what you are, and realizing that you can never become what you think everyone will love. It’s an addiction to the pain that you cause yourself and the lies that you tell your friends.”

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “ Eating disorders are actually serious and often fatal illnesses that cause severe disturbances to a person’s eating behaviors. Obsessions with food, body weight, and shape may also signal an eating disorder.”

When it comes to first thinking about changing the way you eat, it more than likely isn’t because you just woke up deciding that randomly. Several students have explained they feel that the disorder started in part from being bullied and teased about their weight as early as elementary/middle school years.

Being called things such as “chunky” and “fat” can mentally trigger a combination of biological, psychological and/or environmental abnormalities that contribute to the development of these illnesses.

While having an eating disorder can affect the individual personally, it can also have a huge impact on the people surrounding. “I learned a lot from this experience like the extensiveness of the brain when worries and anxieties get to you,” a third student said. “It was very worrisome. I wanted them to eat normally instead of under drastic conditions. I wish we would’ve realized the issue sooner and done more research to help and understand, but I’m just thankful it’s solved today.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with or showing signs of an eating disorder, don’t be afraid to talk to them about it. After talking with your friend, if you are still concerned with their health and safety, find a trusted adult or medical professional to talk to.

This is probably a challenging time for both of you. It could be helpful for you, as well as your friend, to discuss your concerns and seek assistance and support from a professional. Help is right around the corner.

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Starving For Perfection