by Victoria Chiaramonte

Eating disorders have affected millions of individuals worldwide and now with the rise of other mental illnesses as a whole we are seeing more and more individuals struggle with this type of disorder.

“Eating Disorders are not just about food, weight, appearance or will power,” stated the Mental Health First Aid USA website. “They are serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses.”

The distress and expectation to be on top of everything and look and feel a certain way often takes over an individual causing them to rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms such as binging, purging or simply not eating at all to gain a sense of control within their lives. The relief of focusing on something else other than what life wants you to constantly look at can feel like a safe place for those who find themselves struggling with these serious disorders such as, but not exclusive to, anorexia and bulimia.

A 4Cs student, who wished to remain anonymous, decided to share part of their story as a way to spread awareness for these disorders so that anyone who may be struggling can find their own voice and consider asking for help.

The student shared that before they sought out help they due to their disorder they were failing classes, as well as avoiding friends and social events to avoid eating in front of others.

“I was really alone, none of my friends had eating disorders but they tried to be as supportive as they could,” said anonymous.

This semester at Cape Cod Community College(4Cs) students and staff are participating in the ‘Love Yourself’ campaign to help raise awareness and destigmatize those who may be struggling with an eating disorder.

“On a college base level, I would say we don’t have a community specifically for eating disorders, but people who are involved in Active Minds have had eating disorders,” said Maura Weir, Coordinator of Recovery and Wellness at 4Cs. “People who have had an eating disorder and live through it consider themselves in recovery as well and sometimes people misinterpret what the word ‘recovery’ means.”

She goes on to explain that using the term ‘recovery’ is not just meant for those who are recovering from drug and alcohol abuse like most would assume upon hearing it.

Weir stated, “For someone to say to me ‘I’m in recovery from an eating disorder’, that makes perfect sense to me.”

Another anonymous student has stepped forward to express what the recovery process has meant to them.

“Recovery has a lot of ups and downs. Yes I have gained the weight back and went through the treatment process, but I still live with an eating disorder every day. I’m thankful for recovery,” said anonymous. “My eating disorder tries to pull me back down but I get back up. Now being in recovery I’m hoping to raise awareness and advocate for Cape Cod. We don’t have many resources and my hope one day is that there’s more options because so many people suffer from an eating disorder on Cape Cod.”

Eating Disorder Awareness week was February 24-29, and this year 4Cs participated in a Love Yourself event on February 26 and 27 by setting up an information table in the cafeteria to promote awareness for eating disorders and self-harm.

Those who find that they are struggling with an eating disorder should contact the Wellness Center at 774-330-4550 or head directly to their office in the Grossman Commons, room 208.