“Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U.S,” according to the National Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. This is almost 8 percent of the population.
Emma Lagle, a second-year student at SUNY New Paltz, has struggled with body image issues throughout her entire life, and now she wants to share her story.
An eating disorder is an addictive disease of self-detrimental behavior and secrecy. Someone who has battled with an eating disorder can never be completely cured, and lapses and relapses are common.
At the early age of seven, Lagle faced peer pressure in school coupled wih a genetic predisposition to depression and anxiety. These factors, combined with a dysfunctional family, led the young girl to self-harm.
Her first purge was at camp the summer before she began high school. Her health worsened for the next three and a half years. At a dangerously low weight, Lagle’s mother took her to a specialist for blood work. She was admitted to a treatment facility for 45 days and assigned a team of medical professionals.
The first step was the re-introduction of nutrition to the body through IVs and supplements. With the large increase in food intake, Lagle’s digestive system experienced stomach aches, night sweats, and emotional stress. After the physical issues were addressed, she still had the mental issues to work through.
Lagle eventually graduated from high school and enrolled at SUNY New Paltz. Although she felt “recovered,” Lagle faced more social and academic stresses which triggered her old habits. She asked her mother to check her back into a facility.
“Recovery is ongoing,” says Lagle. “You’re living with this voice in your head that is telling you to do something that is so bad for you. That’s when I feel bad about myself, when I hear those thoughts.”
Although it adversely affected her body and mental health for many years, Lagle does not categorize her struggle as a bad thing.
“I don’t wish an eating disorder on anyone, but I’ll take what it has taught me,” she explains.
Lagle hopes to help others avoid the negatives affects caused by eating disorders from what she as learned through her experience.
To learn more about eating disorders or if you are worried about a friend, please visit www.anad.org, or call the helpline at 630-577-1330.