Suffering in silence
By Celeste Simmons | Published October 22, 2015
There are many silent killers on a college campus. Some of the main ones you hear about are depression and suicide. There are groups on campuses that help you deal with depression, there have been articles written about it within the last couple of years, and it has been talked about on the news. People talk about depression and college students quite often, but what you don’t really hear about that much that is linked with depression and suicide are eating disorders.
A survey done in 2006 by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) found that about 20 percent or 1,000 college students of both men and women said they had or still have an eating disorder, and that number has not dropped since then. Furthermore, that number is also 20 percent higher for elite athletes.
In an article written by Jennifer A. Smith on the NEDA website, Smith said, “When left untreated, eating disorders can lead to permanent physical damage ranging from hair loss to damage to the heart, osteoporosis and the inability to conceive. They can even result in death. In fact, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder and a suicide rate that is 50 times higher than that of the general population.”
With numbers like those, why aren’t college campuses doing more to prevent or help students with eating disorders? Why is this illness still being pushed under the rug?
“I think eating disorders are a serious issue that needs to be taken seriously because that person isn’t just physically harming themselves but mentally as well,” said Sophia White, a sophomore at Middlesex County College studying fashion merchandise and retail management. “It will only progress until they’re dysfunctional and every flaw they see and other point out will destroy them. It starts off with just wanting to lose weight but quickly spirals out of control and they don’t even see it as an issue.”
“Of course is should be taken seriously,” said Giuseppe Rizzo, a freshmen at Kean studying business management. “Eating disorders affect each victim physical as well as mentally and everyone undergoing one should seek help.”
The real question here is, is there help? If someone here at Kean had an eating disorder, is there a place on campus for them to go for help?
The answer to that question is still unanswered. If you search eating disorders on the Kean website it leads you to a page that takes about alcohol and substance abuse problems. There are programs you can enroll yourself in if you have a drug or alcohol problem, but this is nothing on the website specific to eating disorders. There isn’t any information on them either.
Even though there is no group for eating disorders, a sorority here at Kean is trying to make an impact on the silent illness. Delta Phi Epsilon is one of the two nationally and internationally recognized sororities here at Kean University, and one of their three philanthropies is Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD). This year the way they decided to speak about ANAD is through a video.
“Every semester we have a week long period devoted to ANAD and that’s how the video came about,” said junior Brenna Stangle, Vice President of programing for Delta Phi Epsilon. The video they made was posted on totalsoroitymove.com around September 21st. The video made it there after one of the sisters from Delta Phi Epsilon submitted it and total sorority moved picked it. The video was created by Stangle, Philanthropy Fundraiser Jessica Kramer, and Historian Brenna Falzone.
The video is essentially the sisters of Delta Phi Epsilon writing nice, uplifting things about one another on a white board, while the person they’re writing about closes their eyes. The video is set to the very upbeat and self-uplifting song of “Love Myself ” by Hailee Steinfeld, but where did the idea come from?
“We’ve seen other ANAD videos and that’s kind of where we got the idea from,” said Stangle. “With the whiteboard, I saw something on Pinterest and expanded off of that and made it our own version for ANAD.”
“It’s hard that even though I might not have it, the girl sitting next to me could have it,” said Stangle.
“You never know what someone’s going through and it’s something you might not even see, they don’t have to be stick thin because there’s all different forms of it.
Stangle is right, when you think of anorexia or eating disorders in general, usually you think of an extremely thin and sick looking female, but that’s not always the case. Many males have eating disorders, many physically fit looking athletes as well.
Eating disorders aren’t exclusive to one gender or body type. The star player on the men’s basketball team could have one. The girl who looks a little over weight that sits next to you in class could have one. You just never know and that’s the scary part.
Eating disorders aren’t exclusive to starving yourself or purging after eating either. Binge eating is another type of eating disorder. It’s when you eat large amounts of food in a day in an uncontrollable manor, it’s usually followed by feelings of guilt and depression.
There is also a new diet fad that is associated with anorexia and bulimia, it’s called drunkorexia. Drunkoerexia is when you don’t eat for the entire day in order to be able to go out and drink as much as you want.
The idea behind it is since alcohol contains so much sugar and so many calories, if you don’t eat for the day it doesn’t matter how much you drink because you won’t be adding any extra calories to your diet. The alcohol will replace what you didn’t eat for the day.
With disorders like that out there becoming more and more popular and taking the lives of so many college students per year, you think there would be more recognition for this type of mental illness.
With more and more people speaking out like Delta Phi Epsilon hopefully that will change soon.
If you, or someone you know, suffers from any type of eating disorder please visit the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders at anad.org. They have a hotline you can call and they can connect you with support groups in your area.
Remember you’re not alone.
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