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A Report on Eating Disorders by a 12 Year Old


Claire is a 12 year old (nearly 13 now) 7th grader from Central Illinois. She wrote this amazing piece on eating disorders. It’s such a powerful and insightful paper and it’s written by a tweenager. Next week we’ll post another paper written by her twin on bullying that is equally insightful.

Cause and Effect Essay on Eating Disorders

Having an eating disorder is not something to joke about. It is a serious problem caused by many things that go on around the world everyday. Just in the United States of America, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their life. Eating disorders do not typically show up out of the blue; they are caused by many things. Eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa can be influenced by even the smallest thing. Things such as a negative or insulting comment at school, low self esteem, poor body image, dysfunctional family setting, troubled relationships, inability to express emotions, depression, anxiety, bullying, genes, wanting to be exceedingly great at a sport, or even the media can be the cause of someone to develop an eating disorder. There are five categories that the causes can fall into: psychological, social, biological, environmental, and interpersonal.

Psychological eating disorders are eating disorders caused by negative thoughts. A teenager could see a picture of a model on Instagram and in a split second feel like they need to look just like that, but then they realize they do not look like that. This could cause low self esteem. Psychological eating disorders can be triggered by almost anything. One negative comment could break someone. The leading cause of an eating disorder is bullying. The words that the bullies say can really hurt someone and the person that is being bullied could start to believe the horrible words that the bully is saying.

Another type of eating disorder is social. Social eating disorders are eating disorders caused by things that are going on in the world everyday. This can include the small things like seeing a very athletic and thin student at school and then thinking that everyone has to look like that. Never compare yourself to anyone or anything. Everyone is made a certain way and everyone is unique. “Cultural norms value people on the basis of physical appearance and not inner qualities and strengths; stress related to racial, ethnic, size/weight-related or other forms of discrimination or prejudice,” (Factors That May Contribute To Eating Disorders, 2016). In society today, in general, people care more about what someone looks like instead of focusing on inner beauty and someone’s personality or character. Social eating disorders are also largely influenced by the media. Cyberbullying can cause people to think poorly about themselves but even seeing pictures of models can cause negative thoughts. Teens do not notice that the people in magazines or online are photoshopped and wear special makeup to look a certain way.

Genetics can also play a large role in the chance of having an eating disorder. This is a part of biological eating disorders. If a parent has had an eating disorder such as Type-2 diabetes, then the likelihood of the children having an eating disorder is high. If a parent had an eating disorder, there is a 56% chance that the offspring will too. If a baby was not supplied with the proper nutrients that he needed to function properly, then later in life there is a chance that he will grow up to have an eating disorder.  

Environmental eating disorders are caused by living and working environments. Environmental eating disorders can be caused by someone’s work or home life. If someone is being abused, they might develop small habits that lead to eating disorders. Another cause of an environmental eating disorder could be a dysfunctional family setting. This could include anything from abuse to parents fighting constantly. Neglection is also another leading cause of environmental eating disorders. Work settings also have a large impact on eating disorders. The job of playing professional softball will include a lot of physical activity and typically athletes need to be healthy, muscular, and thin. If a player does not feel they are in that size range, they might start to starve themself. Another job that could cause employees to develop an eating disorder is a modeling job. Models for most famous companies are thin, tall, and photoshopped. Never starve yourself for a job. It is not worth it. Models are photoshopped to look a certain way.

The last category is interpersonal eating disorders. Interpersonal could be anything going on in someone’s personal life.  “Troubled personal relationships; difficulty expressing emotions and feelings; history of being teased or ridiculed based on size or weight; history of physical or sexual abuse” (Factors That May Contribute To Eating Disorders, 2016) are some causes of interpersonal eating disorders. If someone can not express emotions, they will feel trapped and then possibly develop depression or anxiety, which are causes and symptoms of any eating disorder. Bullying is another major cause of any eating disorder but especially interpersonal. Bullies have a tendency to get inside people’s head and this can trigger an interpersonal eating disorder.

The five main categories of eating disorders are psychological, social, biological, environmental, and interpersonal. Within those five categories, there are more specific causes. These may include low self esteem, poor body image, depression, anxiety, bullying, abuse, lack of ability to express emotion, troubled relationships, genetics, and even the media. If you notice these things in anyone, talk to a trusted adult. Never compare yourself to anyone or anything because you were made just the way you are and that is perfect.

Sobering Statistics On Eating Disorders


PREVALENCE

It is estimated that 8 million Americans have an eating disorder – seven million women and one million men One in 200 American women suffers from anorexia

Two to three in 100 American women suffers from bulimia

Nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder (Note: One in five Americans suffers from mental illnesses.)

An estimated 10 – 15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are males

MORTALITY RATES

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness

A study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reported that 5 – 10% of anorexics die within 10 years after contracting the disease; 18-20% of anorexics will be dead after 20 years and only 30 – 40% ever fully recover

The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death for females 15 – 24 years old. 20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems

ACCESS TO TREATMENT

Only 1 in 10 people with eating disorders receive treatment

About 80% of the girls/women who have accessed care for their eating disorders do not get the intensity of treatment they need to stay in recovery – they are often sent home weeks earlier than the recommended stay

Treatment of an eating disorder in the US ranges from $500 per day to $2,000 per day. The average cost for a month of inpatient treatment is $30,000. It is estimated that individuals with eating disorders need anywhere from 3 – 6 months of inpatient care. Health insurance companies for several reasons do not typically cover the cost of treating eating disorders

The cost of outpatient treatment, including therapy and medical monitoring, can extend to $100,000 or more

ADOLESCENTS

Anorexia is the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescents

95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25

50% of girls between the ages of 11 and 13 see themselves as overweight 80% of 13-year-olds have attempted to lose weight

RACIAL AND ETHNIC MINORITIES

Rates of minorities with eating disorders are similar to those of white women

74% of American Indian girls reported dieting and purging with diet pills

Essence magazine, in 2008, reported that 53.5% of their respondents, African-American females were at risk of an eating disorder

Eating disorders are one of the most common psychological problems facing young women in Japan.

While the previous statistics are sobering there is hope.  This hope is in direct proportion to those who are willing to get involved in the messiness that comes with loving those with an ED and an increase in awareness and education of this horrible condition.  If you have suffered from, or someone you love has suffered from an ED we invite you to join the fight.  We invite you to use your voice and influence. We invite you to share your experience, strength, and hope to those who have lost theirs.  You can do that in one of several ways:

1.)  Leave a comment here.

2.)  Refer your friends and loved ones to this and other websites as an ED resource.

3.)  Utilize your social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and provide links to ED websites.

4.)  Talk to your local school/park districts/churches/etc. and educate them on ED.

5.)  Share your stories of overcoming ED. (If you have a story you’d like to share to inspire others feel free to email us at cschaffner@fringeconversations.com.

Dangers and Diseases Associated with Eating Disorders


ALL Eating Disorders are Dangerous

It is important to understand that even though a person may be suffering specifically with Anorexia, Bulimia or Compulsive Overeating, it is not uncommon for them to exhibit behaviors from each of the three. It is also not uncommon for one Eating Disorder to be swapped for another (Example: a person who is suffering with Anorexia switches to Bulimia; a persons suffering with Compulsive Overeating switches to Anorexia). This is why it is important to be aware of THE DANGERS BELOW, all of which are risks no matter what Eating Disorder you suffer with.

DO NOT FALL INTO THE TRAP OF THINKING “I ONLY DO THIS A FEW TIMES A MONTH SO I CAN’T BE AT RISK” OR “I DON’T DO THIS ALL THE TIME, I JUST GO THROUGH HEALTHY AND NON-HEALTHY CYCLES” — THAT DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE NOT IN DANGER, NOR DOES IT MEAN YOU DO NOT SUFFER FROM AN EATING DISORDER.

For a list of eating disorder associated dangers and diseases click here.

Broken Mirrors/Eating Disorders


Eating disorders frequently appear during adolescence or young adulthood, but some reports indicate that they can develop during childhood or later in adulthood. Women and girls are much more likely than males to develop an eating disorder. Men and boys account for an estimated 5 to 15 percent of patients with anorexia or bulimia and an estimated 35 percent of those with binge-eating disorder. Eating disorders are real, treatable medical illnesses with complex underlying psychological and biological causes. They frequently co-exist with other psychiatric disorders such as depression, substance abuse, or anxiety disorders. People with eating disorders also can suffer from numerous other physical health complications, such as heart conditions or kidney failure, which can lead to death.

more…

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week


For more information on and help for eating disorders please visit the following:

 

National Eating Disorders

National Institute of Mental Health

Something Fishy

Conversations on the Fringe

Mercy Ministries

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2017


Here’s our annual list of most viewed blog posts for the year. We did not publish as much content this year as we have in earlier years but we got more traffic on the site. That’s largely due to a couple of cultural phenomenons, such as Thirteen Reasons Why on Netflix and continued race and racism related issues. There were a lot of people looking for answers to some hard questions this year. Here’s what we saw from you…

  1.  Thirteen Reasons Why Discussion Guides
  2. Addressing the Racial Climate in Your Youth Group
  3. Trauma-Informed Youth Ministry
  4. Beyond Whiteness: Resources on Race for White Congregations
  5. After Text Message Case, Words Matter Even More
  6. Language Matters
  7. The Art of Connecting with Kids on the Fringe
  8. A Report on Eating Disorders (by a 12 year old)
  9. A Report on Bullying (by a 12 year old)
  10. Youth Ministry and the Post-Modern Learner

We added two new content creators this year as well, Patti Gibbons and Melissa Rau. Patti is penning our Fringe Parenting articles and Melissa helped curate and write the Thirteen Reasons Why Discussion Guides. We’re excited to share more from each of them in 2018 and are looking to add a couple fresh voices as well.

Thanks for your support this year. We believe deeply in the work we’re doing and couldn’t do it without your support.

Merry Christmas,

CotF

After Text Message Case, Words Matter Even More


We’re excited to announce we have a new content creator to focus on parenting issues. For years we have tried to serve parents of fringe kids or parents on the fringe and we are fortunate to have Patti Gibbons join our writing team and to share her hard won wisdom with all of us. (Click here for Patti’s bio)

Her first post is an important one and addresses a growing concern among parents. Take a few minutes to read it and share your thoughts with her. She would love to connect.

After Text Message Case, Words Matter Even More

By Patti Gibbons

Two teenagers meet while their families vacation in the same place. A friendship develops and the teens discover their homes are relatively close, about an hour apart. They connect on social media and exchange texts and messages about their lives, their families, their problems. Though they rarely saw each other in person, they called themselves boyfriend and girlfriend.

That all sounds pretty normal these days, right?

Pervasive use of technology and social media allowed this relationship to develop as the teens supported one another through family struggles, serious personal issues like depression and eating disorders, and the ups and downs of teenage life.

But, this is the beginning of a story that ends in a charge of involuntary manslaughter. The weapon? The words typed into those messages.

As parents and adults who care about the lives of our children, that is a stunning statement. The words of one teenager to another were found to have made her responsible for his death by suicide.

This turns up the heat on the conversations about technology use directly, and tangentially about social media, cyber-bullying, privacy, and even the First Amendment. It should give us pause. A long pause.

On June 16, 2017, a Massachusetts judge found Michelle Carter, now 20, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter following a trial that revealed that she, then a teen, engaged in what prosecutors called “wanton and reckless conduct” sent text messages urging Conrad Roy III to take his own life at age 18. She has not yet been sentenced as of this writing.

Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz decided the case in a bench trial, saying, “Ms. Carter’s actions, and also her failure to act, where she had a self-created duty to Mr. Roy, since she had put him into that toxic environment, constituted, each and all, wanton and reckless conduct.” [NPR]

In her texts, she urged him to act on his suicidal ideation, “You just have to do it,” one text said. After his death, she organized a fundraiser in Roy’s name, presenting herself as an anti-suicide advocate, posting on Facebook, “Even though I could not save my boyfriend’s life, I want to put myself out there to try to save as many other lives as possible.”

It is clear from the accounts presented at trial that Carter and Roy each had troubled histories with depression and other mental health concerns about which they shared with one another openly. This situation turns on both the words she said and the actions she failed to take. [New York Times]

As parents and adults who care about them, what can we take away from this case?

First, we can be diligent in teaching our children that the words they say matter and that they will be held accountable, perhaps even legally, for what they say. From this case, in particular, we learn a new limit to the First Amendment right of free speech. Not only can we not yell fire in a crowded theatre, we can’t encourage a person to take their own life.

Second, we can be diligent in communicating to our children that they, along with each and every human being, has intrinsic worth and value. There is no person they will ever meet in person or interact with online to whom harsh, demeaning, insulting words need to be said, whether we like them or agree with them or not. This is especially true for social media where there is a harsh and pressured teen culture of comparison, evaluation, and judgement. This is contrary to the prevailing culture online today, even among adults. Perhaps we can all grow this way?

Third, we can culture open dialog with the children in our lives about using their online presence for good. Talking to our kids about finding positive words to use to influence the world, be more authentic, and impact their friends in ways that give life.

Fringe Story


Dear God, please send us all the kids nobody else wants. Amen.” This was the prayer we prayed every day and when God answered this prayer, we were overwhelmed by the amount of hurt contained in these young people’s hearts. We were so overwhelmed that we began a teaching series called “Coping With…” that focused on the hard issues students were facing and hoped to give them healthy coping skills to navigate these challenges.

We invited professional social worker, counselors, teachers, law enforcement, medical professionals, and others to come and addressed issues such as cutting, eating disorders, depression and suicide, addiction, stress, and much more topics in that vein. Some of us even went back to school to study these issues ourselves. The response we got was tremendous and students were telling us how grateful they were that we were talking about the things they had to deal with on a regular basis.

Parents also began telling us of the impact these groups were having on their students and that their kids were finally being honest with them about their struggles. So, we began inviting parents to join us. They, in turn, invited their neighbors, and those neighbors told their youth pastors and church leaders and were soon inundated with requests to join us for these classes.

After much talk, collaboration, and prayer we have put our experience, resources, relationships, and expertise together to form much-needed training resources that focus on training individuals to be more effective in their work with the vulnerable and marginalized. We focus on complex mental health/emotional/social health issues and how they affect adolescent development and Christian spirituality.

We have found that many of these hurting individuals/groups are vulnerable to exploitation, don’t trust adults, and are marginalized to the fringes of youth society. It is our hope to equip those who love these individuals with the information they need to impact their lives. We also hope to equip them to move towards those hurting humans, to build relationships with them and to have important conversations on the fringe.

Suicide Prevention


Almost inevitably, family members and friends are drawn into the painful world of suicide.  In light of the numerous cases of suicide over the last month we think it would be helpful to give some guidelines for families and friends of those who struggle with suicidal ideation. 

If a family member or friend is acutely suicidal, it may be necessary to take away their credit cards, car keys, and checkbooks and to be supportive but firm in getting them to an emergency room or walk-in clinic.  If the person is violent, it may be necessary to call the police.  These are difficult things to do but often essential.

The National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association, a national patient-run advocacy and support group based in Chicago, makes the following specific recommendations to family members and friends who believe someone they know is in danger of committing suicide:

  • Take your friend or family seriously.
  • Stay calm, but don’t underreact.
  • Involve other people.  Don’t try to handle the crisis alone or jeopardize your own health or safety.  Call 911 in necessary.
  • Contact the person’s psychiatrist, therapist, crisis intervention team, doctor, or others who are trained to help.
  • Express concern.  Give concrete examples of what leads you to believe your friend (or family member) is close to suicide.
  • Listen attentively.  Maitain eye contact.  Use body language such as moving close to the person or holding his or her hand, if it is appropriate.
  • Ask direct questions.  Find out if your friend (or family member) has a specific plan for suicide.  Determine, if you can, what methode of suicide he or she is thinking about.
  • Acknowledge the person’s feelings.  Be empathetic, not judgmental.  Do not relieve the person of responsibility for his or her actions.
  • Reassure.  Stress that suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems.  Provide hope.  Remind your friend or family member that there is help and things will get better.
  • Do not promise confidentiality.  You may need to speak to your loved one’s doctor in order to protect the person.  Don’t make promises that would endanger your loved one’s life.
  • If possible, don’t leave the person alone until you are sure they are in the hands of competent professionals.

There are several excellent advocacy and research organizations, many of which have patient and family support groups with suicide prevention and mental illness. 

If you or someone you love is suicidal, we recommend contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 800-273-8255. Additional crisis and suicide hotlines are available in the category below, Crises and Suicide.

AIDS

AIDS Hotline
(800) FOR-AIDS

American Social Health Association: Sexually Transmitted Disease Hotline
(800) 227-8922

CDC AIDS Information
(800) 232-4636

AIDS Info: Treatment, Prevention and Research
(800) HIV-0440

National AIDS Hotline
(800) 342-AIDS

ALCOHOL

Alcohol Hotline
(800) 331-2900

Al-Anon for Families of Alcoholics
(800) 344-2666

Alcohol and Drug Helpline
(800) 821-4357

Alcohol Treatment Referral Hotline
(800) 252-6465

Alcohol & Drug Abuse Hotline
(800) 729-6686

Families Anonymous
(800) 736-9805

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Hopeline
(800) 622-2255

CHILD ABUSE

Child Help USA National Child Abuse Hotline
(800) 422-4453

Covenant House
(800) 999-9999

CRISIS AND SUICIDE

Girls & Boys Town National Hotline
(800) 448-3000

International Suicide Hotlines

National Hopeline Network
(800) SUICIDE

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
(800) 273-TALK (8255)

National Youth Crisis Hotline
(800) 442-HOPE (4673)

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

National Domestic Violence Hotline
(800) 799-7233

National US Child Abuse Hotline
(800) 422-4453

MEDICAL

American Association of Poison Control Centers
(800) 222-1222

America Social Health: STD Hotline
(800) 227-8922

OTHER

Shoplifters Anonymous
(800) 848-9595

Eating Disorders Awareness and Prevention
(800) 931-2237

Teen Help Adolescent Resources
(800) 840-5704

PREGNANCY

Planned Parenthood Hotline
(800) 230-PLAN (230-7526)

RAPE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN)
(800) 656-HOPE

National Domestic Violence/Child Abuse/ Sexual Abuse
(800) 799-7233

Abuse Victim Hotline
(866) 662-4535

RUNNING AWAY

National Runaway Switchboard
(800) 231-6946

National Hotline for Missing & Exploited Children
(800) 843-5678

Child Find of America
(800) 426-5678

SUBSTANCE ABUSE

Poison Control
(800) 222-1222

National Institute on Drug Abuse Hotline
(800) 662-4357

Cocaine Anonymous
(800) 347-8998

National Help Line for Substance Abuse
(800) 262-2463

How Thin Is Thin Enough?


Our friends over at Fuller Youth Institute published a great post today about the messages we are sending our young girls.

They referred to an article in the Huffington Post about photos of models that have been touched up to make the model look thinner.

As a father of three young girls I’m concerned that when they see the touched up photos they compare and contrast themselves to a fictional image.  We have got to continue to pull back the curtain on these tricks of the trade or our girls will kill themselves striving for something that is impossible.

Now I know this may sound fanatical but we work first hand with young girls who suffer from image distortions and eating disorders.  It’s no wonder they struggle so much when confronted with images such as this.

Here’s a great song by Jonny Diaz called “More Beautiful You” that speaks to this same issue:

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