JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A local college graduate speaks about her struggle with binge eating disorder and aims to raise awareness for the illness.
"It's a very blurry time period of my life," said the victim, who wishes to remain anonymous.
College is supposed to be the best four years of your life. But for one 24-year-old woman, those were her darkest years ...
"I have few memories of those four or five years when I was very deep into it; emotionally drained, exhausted. I definitely felt hopeless."
One in four college students has an eating disorder. And it just so happens, this woman was surrounded by friends that were also victims.
"I would binge with both of them, one of them was gaining weight with me, the other one was not but she was throwing her food up."
Within one year, a hormone imbalance caused her to seek medical help after gaining then losing 120 pounds. Anorexia, bulimia and binge eating can all lead to serious health problems. Body Image Therapist Lori Osachy said anorexia is the most difficult to treat.
"The definition is when a person falls to 85 percent of their ideal body weight and also has significant body image distortion, meaning when they look in the mirror, even though they are extremely thin they look fat," said Osachy.
All eating disorders can lead to heart failure, among other health complications.
"You can die from it. Every year, there's a certain percentage of people that die from eating disorders and I would say that's mostly anorexia, people who starve to death," said Osachy.
But how did they get there? Eating disorders are a mental illness -- shaped by behaviors and attitudes.
"You can help your kids question the beauty ads. You can show them that a lot of times, models, figures are airbrushed. They use make up and all kinds of tricks to make models look thinner than they are," said Osachy.
People with eating disorders can be treated -- the first step is to seek help.
You can find help and support through the National Eating Disorders Association.
Some local resources:
*Body Image Counseling Center: 904-737-3232 www.bodyimagecounseling.com
*Baptist Behavioral Health
-Psychiatrists and Psychologists: 904-376-3800
*Lifestyle Center for Counseling and Nutrition: 904-614-5521
*Preferred Nutrition: 904-270-1234
First Coast News