By Gina Ledonne:
Mental health awareness is a widely growing topic not only in the country, but worldwide. Depression, OCD, anxiety and so many more are being treated and recognized more exclusively, and the negative stigma surrounding them is greatly diminishing.
However, one of the most common, yet disgustingly stigmatized mental illnesses are eating disorders.
The week before Spring Break was National Eating Disorder Awareness week.
Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, can spark from a variety of different factors, most commonly relating to stress. When stress becomes overwhelming, the control of eating patterns can convince the brain of reassurance and can be used as a coping mechanism.
An article titled Eating Disorders and Stress posted by Psychology Today suggested that “..when individuals get stressed, they often act in impulsive ways because they do not know how to transform the stress into something productive,” and individuals struggling with body image could possibly “…not eat enough food, purge after a meal, or engage in a binge-eating episode.”
Having personally struggled with an eating disorder, I can assure that stress is the leading cause, and I am aware at how difficult it can be to control. In college, stress is inevitable. However, I was curious how different students viewed stress, while also asking about their own personal views on body image, eating disorders, and weight.
I asked Assumption College freshman Mikayla DeBois her opinions of these various topics.
“The workload in college is definitely intense,” says DeBois. “I’m definitely one to overwork myself and become stressed.”
Mikayla continues in saying, “I’ve personally never struggled with an eating disorder, but body image is a struggle of mine. I think it’s a struggle of many girls our age, which is terrible. The fact that weight can have such an impact on how people view their worth is terrifying.”
Another topic often discussed is the colloquial term “drunkorexia,” which describes students who purposely starve/restrict calories immensely throughout the day in order to “save calories” for alcohol. This type of disordered eating is shockingly common among college students, and the combination of an empty stomach and alcohol abuse can be extremely deadly.
Common signs of an eating disorder, as given by the National Eating Disorder Association website:
- weight loss, dieting, and control of food
- preoccupation with weight, food, calories
- refusal to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food (e.g., no carbohydrates, etc.)
- skipping meals or taking small portions of food at regular meals
- extreme concern with body size and shape
- feeling cold all the time
- fine hair on body (lanugo)
- dry skin and hair, and brittle nails
- menstrual irregularities
and many more.
If you or anyone you may know show signs of an eating disorder, it is crucial to seek help. Fighting a mental illness alone can be one of the most difficult and lonesome things someone can go through.
It is important for Assumption College students, and thousands of colleges around the country, to understand that help on campus is available. Through psychiatrist sessions, health centers, de-stress activities, and many more, mental illnesses do not stop a person from receiving their education.