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food laid out
Eating disorders take lives, every year.

A relationship with food

From the age of eight years old to fourteen years old, junior Daphne Brown suffered from anorexia and bulimia. This affected her outlook on life from how she looked at others, which created constant comparison between her peers to herself. She said that this drew a dark cloud over her entire life and made it become extremely hateful.

“I went throughout half of my life believing that I was not skinny enough and because I didn’t look a certain way, I was not as good as the other girls,” said Brown.

Friends of Brown started noticing the changes in her outward appearance as well as her personality changes. One friend commented on the issue saying that she became quiet and started shutting out her friends slowly. There was no motivation throughout her experience to get better, but when her younger sister started saying the same comments that Brown once said to herself. Such as, that she believed she was gaining weight or that she wasn’t as pretty or as good as the other girls. She understood how it could tear someone apart.

“Being in dance, I constantly stared in the mirror, comparing myself to the other dancers, wondering why I didn’t look like them,” said Brown. “This grew such a hatred in my heart towards not only myself, but my fellow dancers.”

“This grew such a hatred in my heart towards not only myself, but my fellow dancers.”Daphne Brown, junior
Just before Brown’s sophomore year she went to Turkey Hill Ranch Bible Camp. During this month-long trip, she was touched with the messages about her God; it taught her about how He was forgiving and loved every child of his. These lessons became a turning point in her life.

“This camp became a second home and gave me new purpose when I needed it the most,” Brown said.

Her growth in her relationship with Christ grew a desire to start her journey of becoming clean. Since the camp, Brown has been two years clean. Brown has visited Turkey Hill again to become counselor and help other girls grow in their own faith.

Female athletes from high school sports and college sports are greatly affected by the intense pressure of being fit. With more than 62 percent of females in athletics meet the criteria for an eating disorder according to a recent survey conducted by NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association). This include avoidance of food, guilt after eating and constant need to burn those calories gained from eating.

A senior at Rock Bridge also went through a similar situation as Brown. Starting school sports at the beginning of 7th grade, she began the “trifecta of athletics.” Bouncing around from Club swimming and school basketball, volleyball and track. This meant a constant switching from practice to practice. Leaving track early to go to swim and swim early to go to volleyball, so on and so forth for the next two years.

She started limiting her calories after the beginning of track season, feeling the urge to help her stomach digest and prevent any hurting while running.

“For a while it helped, it felt as though my stomach went numb and I wouldn’t have to worry about eating a lot before practice. It all made sense in my head to limit everything or to not eat but in the end, it ended up hurting my body a lot,” she said.

Whenever she started eating less, people started making comments about how “fit and skinny” she looked. During middle school, kids are easily influenced and to the positive feedback, and made her believe that what she was doing was helpful and wanted to continue to present herself this way.

She explained that a year ago, she wouldn’t admit that the weakening of her bones and joints was because of the lack of nutrition intake. The lack of vitamin D and calcium prevent bone growth and strength in her body.

Because of the frail joints, at a track practice she tried to hop on one leg but ended up breaking her ankle within impact. She tried to walk it off but at the next practice for swim, even the push against the water produced pain.

“I realize now that it wasn’t some fluke that I broke my ankle while hopping on one leg, I knew it was because my bones were so weak. They constantly hurt but I didn’t understand why. Breaking my ankle should’ve been a wakeup call for me to start eating more calories but that wasn’t it for me” she explained.

It took awhile for her to realize that her constant pain in her joints, muscles and weak immune system that sent her into a cold often, was because of the lack of nutrition. She was sent to the emergency room after fainting at a swim meet. There is where they discovered the effects of her actions were life threatening. The doctors presented it as iron deficiency, that she needed to gain more calories/nutritional value and take vitamins to make up for the loss within those past years and for future needs.

As she got better about eating the summer before her junior year. Even though it was a lot of trial and error for how to remember her vitamins, snacks and meals. She has created a plan that prevents any time that she could forget to grab her medicine or food. Each Sunday night, she goes grocery shopping and creates healthy meal packs, which also contain her vitamins and medicine that last her a whole week.

“If I forget one morning to take my vitamins or medicine, it makes me so tired and feel so weak that I have to go home and just lay down,” she said. “It is so crucial that I take these because I was deprived of them for so long that I’m making up for lost nutrition in the past while also needing it now.”

For Brown and the senior, they are on the peak of recovery, but for some people it is not the case. The NEDA has found that 70 percent of patients that were hospitalized had a recurrence of the same or a similar disorder.

Eating disorders could last for years, slowly depriving the body of what is needed. The body takes away muscle, bones and fat in the body to try to make up for what isn’t being taken through eating. This could lead to death if it is not treated correctly.

Should something be done to help battle eating disorders in RBHS? Leave a comment below.

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