Finding freedom with eating disorders

Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. They can affect anyone and everyone and no two cases are ever the same.

Many different people can be susceptible to developing an eating disorder, from a young girl trying to be become society’s “perfect woman” to someone who has struggled with eating since childhood to an athlete concerned with the way their body is built.

“The cause is different for each individual, but for me, it was the rupture of my family as a child,” 2013 graduate Hannah Hartzell said.

Eating disorders, according to nationaleatingdisorders.org, can involve extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and physical appearance. There are many different eating disorders, each affecting a person in their own ways.

“Some of the most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, while binge eating disorder is just now becoming more common,” AP Psychology teacher Rebecca Whitney said.

Now a senior at Butler University, Hartzell struggled with Anorexia for five years. As a competitive distance runner, no one seemed to notice when she began to turn down foods, assuming it was normal for a long distance runner.

“First, I cut out certain foods, and then I started eating less and less. For awhile it made me feel powerful, like I didn’t need what everyone else needed,” Hartzell said.

Soon after anorexia took hold in her sophomore year of high school, Hartzell attempted recovery.

“After a week in the hospital and about two years in treatment, I thought I was better, but I never truly dealt with the roots of my anorexia. Recovery and treatment can take a long time and even then the journey is long and painstaking,” Hartzell said.

After taking a semester off to do a partial- hospitalization program at the Center for Balanced Living in Lewis Center, she began to see herself in a new light.

“There was a time when I couldn’t see myself without anorexia, but here I am. I have maintained a healthy weight for almost two years now, and I can truly say that I love my body,” Hartzell said.

Eating disorders can hold a person back from living life the way they want to, making them miss out on high school events and friendships.

“Frankly, I gave five years of my life to anorexia ,and I missed a lot of neat high school experiences. I don’t want that to happen to any other girls or boys. But I do know that what I’ve gone through wasn’t in vain,” Hartzell said.

It’s important to speak up if anyone is concerned that you or even one of your friends who could be affected by an eating disorder. Telling someone could make all the difference.

“I am forever grateful to my coaches, friends and teachers for their love and support. And to anyone who is currently getting sucked under by an eating disorder, please know: there truly is a reality beyond your pain right now; there is freedom and it’s worth fighting for,” Hartzell said.

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