I first saw a psychiatrist for my anxiety and depression as a junior in high school. During her evaluation, she asked about my classes and grades. I told her that I had a 4.0 GPA and had filled my schedule with Pre-AP and AP classes. A puzzled look crossed her face. She asked about my involvement in extracurricular activities. As I rattled off the long list of groups and organizations I was a part of, her frown creased further.
Finally, she set down her pen and looked at me, saying something along the lines of, “You seem to be pretty high-functioning, but your anxiety and depression seem pretty severe. Actually, it’s teens like you who scare me a lot.”
Now I was confused. What was scary about my condition? From the outside, I was functioning like a perfectly “normal” teenager. In fact, I was somewhat of an overachiever. I was working through my mental illnesses and succeeding, so what was the problem?
Published on on 5.23.16
Written by: Amanda Leventhal
A lot of people with an eating disorder will find the idea that it’s caused by Barbies or supermodels insulting and patronizing. It’s a mental illness, not a bad case of vanity.
When I was ten years old, I had a Barbie doll. I had VHS copies of every Disney movie ever made, and a stack of Cosmo magazines I’d stolen from my older sister. Six years later, I had anorexia. None of these things are related.
You can hardly go online nowadays without coming across an aggressively angry article decrying something or someone for perpetuating “unrealistic body standards”—be it Topshop mannequin, a Disney character’s waistband, or, time and time again, Barbie dolls.
Paradoxically, in discussions of “unrealistic bodies,” real women get the most stick for their stick-figures, be it flat-bellied celebrities on Instagram, or, most frequently, the entire modeling industry itself.
Published on the on 2.20.15
Written by: Amelia Tait
This month we feature the story of Michelle, who talks about her eating disorder developing from a harmless attempt at establishing healthier dietary patterns. It is a powerful reminder of how diets are not a good idea for anyone, but also how recovery IS possible for everyone.
All throughout my early childhood and pre-teen years, I had a healthy relationship with food. I never counted calories, never analyzed the back of nutritional labels, and never thought twice about what I ate, food was food. It wasn’t until the beginning of my senior year in high school, about 10 years ago, when I started noticing I was gaining some weight and was not as “fit” as some of my friends. Consequently, I slowly started to become more aware of the foods I ate. I also joined a gym in hopes of becoming more toned and losing a few pounds. My new fitness journey started out healthy, within a couple of weeks I was noticing a difference and felt better. My friends were noticing too and complimenting me on my new physical changes, which boosted my motivation.
With my new “confidence” I wanted to continue my healthy lifestyle and lose a few more pounds, then I would be truly happy (so I told myself). I began being very strict with my diet, eliminating as many “bad” foods as possible. Certain foods were no longer “allowed.” My workouts at the gym increased substantially. Without realizing it, I was putting my body into a state of starvation, and I was spiraling downwards, quickly. I became obsessed with the scale, weighing in every morning and every night, sometimes even after school to make sure I didn’t put on too much water weight. The number on the scale consumed me. I could not have a high number on the scale, it just wasn’t acceptable.
Published on the on 3.29.17
Written by: Michelle Reuter
February 26th through March 4th represents National Eating Disorder Awareness week. During this week, the general public will likely see articles, tweets and maybe some Facebook posts that will cause them to think for a bit about those suffering from an eating disorder. For those who do suffer however, they’d give anything not to think about their eating disorder for a week. Not to think about calories, food or exercise. Because for those suffering from an eating disorder, this is not just a week but this is all consuming. It’s what keeps you up at night, regretting what you ate that day or how you can make tomorrow “better.” It’s what drives wedges between family members and ruins the notion of a happy family meal. Social lives will be impaired as impromptu happy hours and dinners out become the causes of stress, not stress-relievers. Your relationship with exercise? It’s not a means of keeping healthy but rather, simply a method of burning calories. Eating disorders affect every aspect of an individual’s life thus deeming it impossible not to constantly think about.
Written by: Kristin Wentzel
By pretty much every definition, Lady Gaga looked in supreme shape as she delivered her epic performance at the Super Bowl 51 half-time show. She vaulted off the roof of the NRG Stadium in Houston, then danced her you-know-what off during her 13-minute run through patriotic American classics and her own hit songs, including a burning-down-the-house rendition of “Bad Romance.”
But all some could focus on is what she exposed when she changed into a second Versace outfit that featured sparkly hot pants and a stomach-baring crop top that showed a softly toned abdomen that critics thought wasn’t toned enough. These critics — mostly men apparently — saw a slight belly roll that to them meant she wasn’t a desirably skinny as she should be.
In response to critics, Gaga took to Instagram late Tuesday to say: “I’m proud of my body.” She told fans they should never “cater to anyone or anything to succeed,” and added, “Be relentlessly you. Finally she thanked them for their support.
Published on the on 2.7.17
Written by: Martha Ross
Over the last several years, laws in the United States have expanded insurance coverage and made treatment more accessible to individuals with binge eating disorder. While true parity and access to care for marginalized populations remains unrealized, we have seen strides in our country. Providers have in many cases been vocal advocates and helped to push important legislation and change forward. Unfortunately, however, there are still many ways in which providers may inadvertently be working against the process. If you are invested in being one of these individuals, follow our how-to guide below.
- Failing to recognize how being underinsured may impact your patients.
While the Affordable Care Act has increased access to health insurance in the United States, over 31 million insured Americans continued to face underinsurance through 2014 (Commonwealth Fund, 2015). Even those with plans through their employer are increasingly likely to be underinsured. Being underinsured means that, despite having health insurance, an individual cannot adequately afford the deductibles or other out of pocket costs associated with the plan. The result of this is that even those with health insurance are not accessing care when they need it. We know that patients with binge eating disorder face a myriad of barriers to accessing care, such as lack of early identification and social stigma, and underinsurance is a very real and prevalent barrier as well. For those patients who do start treatment, recognize that underinsurance may play a role in early termination of care or refusal to seek higher levels of care even when needed. Perhaps most frustratingly, dropping out of treatment due to resource constraints like underinsurance further undermines patients’ confidence that treatment could eventually be feasible or effective.
Published on the on 2.1.17
Written by: Cyndi Eddington, Ashley Solomon, Psy.D., and Angela Woods
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My therapist told me I was running out of time. She had been recommending I sign myself into the hospital for several weeks. Each time, I said I was fine, that such drastic measures weren’t necessary, especially considering that I was acing all my college classes at my small liberal arts school in western Michigan. I didn’t think I needed to gain weight — in fact, I wasn’t even positive I had an , despite weighing less than I had as a fourth-grader. I wrote off my falling-out hair and diminishing body temperature as mere coincidences to my steadily declining weight.
“If you don’t voluntarily sign yourself in, we might have to start thinking about forced commitment. You could die,” she said.
I tried not to laugh in her face. But as her words sunk in, I realized where any court would send me. I had heard stories about that psychiatric unit, and it frankly terrified me. I realized I would have far more control over my care if I signed myself in. So, two days after Christmas, at age 21, I did.
Published on the on 1.18.17
Written by: Carrie Arnold
Joey Julius called his mother. It was 2 a.m. on a day after a Penn State football victory, and his feelings of triumph were being gnawed by doubt.
He was that big guy everybody loved but nobody really knew. He was a video sensation, a giant kicker who made crushing tackles. But nobody understood his real fight.
“Mom, I feel like a fraud,” he said. “I feel like I’m not being true to myself.”
Joey Julius then hung up the phone, logged onto Facebook, and began to type.
“After a long consideration of not only myself, my family and my team, I have decided to go public about my absence from the team during spring ball of 2016 and thru out this summer,’’ he wrote. “I was admitted into the McCallum place on May 9th for eating disorders.”
Published on the on 12.30.16
Written by: Bill Plaschke
For the approximately 8 million Americans who suffer from binge eating disorder, help could be just a download away.
Psychologists in Drexel’s Laboratory for Innovations in Health-Related Behavior Change are developing a new smartphone application that aims to tackle binge eating, and they are seeking study volunteers to test it out.
The app, called iCAT+, is for patients who suffer from binge eating disorder or bulimia nervosa. It uses an approach called Integrative Cognitive-Affective Therapy (ICAT) to identify users’ binge “triggers” and teaches coping skills to change unhealthy eating behaviors. ICAT is a type of individual psychotherapy that focuses on helping people change their behaviors, feelings and thoughts about themselves.
Published on the on 1.3.17
Written by: Lauren Ingeno
The average American woman is 5 feet 4 inches and 166 pounds. The average American model is 5 feet 10 inches and 110 pounds, according to the University of Minnesota’s “Guidelines for Adolescent Nutrition Services.”
The media distorts our perception of body image. Shouldn’t models actually be what their job title describes and model the appearance of the average woman in the country they represent? There’s a worldwide epidemic plaguing the First World, and America plays a big part in enabling it.
The media’s depiction of unrealistic standards for body shape affect younger people every year. Altering images with Photoshop and using incredibly skinny women in fashion and pop culture perpetuates low self-esteem among young girls, which often leads to extreme dieting.
Published on on 10.21.16
Written by: Virginia Tanner