The most common image of a person suffering from an eating disorder is an already skinny teenage girl striving to look more like a supermodel. But, eating disorders don’t discriminate. Anyone can have an eating disorder no matter their age, gender, or body type.
National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) just wrapped up their 15th annual eating disorder awareness week and the theme was “I had no idea…” The purpose of this week was to dispel common myths about eating disorders. We are going to cover five common myths and the real facts behind them.
Myth- Eating Disorder are only for girls
Facts- 40 million people in the US suffer from eating disorders. About 10 million of them are male. While the majority is female, a significant number of men suffer. Just as girls are constantly pressured with the Barbie doll image and that of celebrities, men are pressured to look like super heroes and famous actors.
Myth- The cure for eating disorders is just to eat more
Facts- While eating more will solve the physical problems it will not solve the psychological problems. Most eating disorders stem from a place of wanting to obtain the perfect body and from there become gradually more and more dangerous. It is important to address the psychological issues as well. Just telling someone with an eating disorder to eat more healthfully is not going to solve the problem, and it could make it worse.
Myth- Eating disorders are only for skinny people
Facts- There are three main types of eating disorders and they include people of all body types.
Anorexia Nervosa is not consuming enough calories for the body to perform properly, while this is common among people who are really skinny, overweight and average weight people can also suffer from this disorder. It is not about being underweight, but rather about not getting enough calories.
Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by eating large amounts of food in one sitting and then purging them regularly though vomiting after the meal. Again, while this is more common among underweight individuals, being underweight is not a requirement for diagnosis.
Binge Eating is eating large amounts of food at once without the intent of purging. This disorder is more common among overweight individuals.
Myth- Eating disorders are just phases
Fact- All types of eating disorders are dangerous and have serious consequences on a person’s health and should be treated as such. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. 20% of people with eating disorders will die from their illness.
Myth- There is no hope
Fact- While recovery can be hard, it is possible. People who complete treatment are able to live healthy long lives.
If you think you might be suffering from an eating disorder talk to someone there are people out there who want to help.
Crisis Call Center
800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Eating Disorders
7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday
National Eating Disorders Association
6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday
A lot of teens today are super busy. They have tons of stuff going that they worry about: extracurricular activities, big tests, college applications, school projects, dating, friends, family stuff. Having so many things going on can cause stress: that’s totally normal. Everyone gets a little stressed from time to time. But sometimes stress can turn into anxiety, and too much anxiety can be bad.
Anxiety is essentially feelings of uneasiness, nervousness, dread, fear, or panic. People who are experiencing anxiety may experience a faster heartbeat or breathing, tense muscles, sweaty palms, a queasy stomach, and/or trembling hands or legs. These feelings are caused by a rush of adrenaline that occurs as a defense mechanism when someone feels threatened in some way, like potentially feeling embarrassed, making a mistake, not fitting in, stumbling over their words, or feeling rejected.
Don’t you usually feel this way when you’re about to give a presentation, or go on a date, or take a big test? I sure do. That’s totally normal. Most people do feel that way when they’re about to do something big and unusual that they aren’t used to doing. Sometimes a little anxiety and nervousness can be helpful, and motivate you to do your best. But there are a lot of people who feel anxiety all the time.
Some people feel anxious and nervous for no reason at all, or about something that’s part of their daily routine. This is usually because they have an anxiety disorder. People with anxiety disorders can let their nerves take over their life. They can feel so panicked and tense that they won’t go out with friends, or do things they enjoy. It can affect their happiness and quality of life.
If you think you may have an anxiety disorder, here are the signs:
- You feel anxious, worried, or afraid for no reason at all
- You worry too much and feel nervous about everyday events or activities
- You’re constantly checking to see if you did something right
- You’re so panicky that you’re unable to function in certain situations
If you think you have this issue, it can be embarrassing and hard to talk about. But realistically, you aren’t alone! SO many people have bad anxiety. Believe it or not, approximately 13% of teenagers just like you have bad enough anxiety that they need treatment and medication.
Here are some things you can do to help your anxiety:
- See your doctor and get a checkup. They might be able to prescribe you some medication that will help.
- See a mental health professional. They can definitely help you figure out exactly what you can do to feel more relaxed.
- Get regular exercise, good nutrition, and enough sleep. Just being healthy can help your nerves.
- Try some relaxation techniques. Find something that works for you, whether it’s doing yoga, breathing exercises, listening to relaxing music, or going for a walk.
- Recognize your emotions and why you’re feeling that way. Sometimes just admitting that the situation is stressful and being prepared to deal with it can help you calm down significantly.
There are all different kinds of anxiety, too: OCD, phobias, social anxiety, panic attacks, and PTSD are all forms of it. They can all hurt you and make your life miserable if you don’t get help. Experts don’t really know what exactly causes anxiety, but some of their ideas are: genetics, brain biochemistry, stressful life circumstances, and learn behavior. But no matter how it happened to you, it isn’t your fault. Just ask for help and start living your life to the fullest, without a worry in the world!
In the United States, 1 in 7 kids between ages 10-18 will run away at some point. On any given day, between 1 and 3 million runaway and homeless kids are alone on the streets.
Kids run away for lots of reasons. Most of the time, it’s because of family problems of some kind, like big arguments or abuse. Sometimes they did something wrong and they’re too afraid to tell their parents, so they just leave. Sometimes it’s something else like a new baby in the family, a death in the family, their parents splitting up or a new stepparent comes along, or they start drinking or doing drugs, or maybe their parents are drinking and doing drugs.
If you’re thinking about running away, you’re probably wanting to do it to avoid your problems. But you need to know that running away and being on the streets will create a whole new set of problems for you. You might run out of money, you might not have any food and water, you won’t have anywhere safe and warm to sleep, and you might even get mixed up in the wrong crowd and get into some scary, illegal stuff. So, there are some other things you can do.
Instead of running away…
- Express your feelings with friends and trusted adults, instead of keeping everything to yourself. Let them know what’s going on, and talk about it so you can come up with a better solution than running away
- When you’re really upset, try calming yourself down by doing something you enjoy, like listening to music, writing poetry, writing in a journal, or exercising.
- When you’re having a problem, make a list of ways you can fix it and make everything better.
- Get help from an adult, like a teacher or counselor. Ask them to help you figure what to do, or somewhere else you can stay.
- Talk to your parents about it and see if you can work it out as a family.
If you have a friend who wants to run away…
- Warn them about how tough it will be to survive on the streets. Let them know that they won’t have enough money, food, or water, and that they could have to deal with some really scary stuff out there all by themselves.
- Remind them that there are other ways they can deal with their problem, and that an adult will know how to help.
- If your friend doesn’t want to tell an adult, tell an adult anyway. When your friend is out on the streets, you don’t want to keep that a secret. You aren’t being a bad friend by telling when they asked you not to… You’re probably saving their life.
Another thing you can do is call The National Runaway Switchboard at 1-800-RUNAWAY (1-800-786-2929). Their hotline is open 24 hours a day, and your call is free from anywhere. You can also go on http://www.1800runaway.org and live chat. They’ll be able to help you find somewhere to stay.
If you live in Yamhill County, Youth Outreach has a Safe Shelter program for anyone 11-17. If you need help, you can come into our drop-in center Monday-Friday any time until 9 p.m., or call us at 503-538-8023. For weekends and after hours, you can call 1-866-538-8023 (free call from anywhere) and we’ll come pick you up wherever you are. We’ll find somewhere for you to stay.