Four years ago, my (then) 17 year-old son entered inpatient treatment for his eating disorder, where he stayed for 16 weeks. During the days leading up to his admittance, I thought of him as my “shadow child” because he’d become a ghost of the person we know and love.
We were among the lucky ones.
Treatment saved his life.
Treatment brought him back to life.
We were lucky because our care team (made up of doctors, dieticians, clinicians and psychiatrists) working with him back home in New York were quick and united in their conclusion that he needed 24-hour care in a specialized facility. They had no ego about telling us that his illness was beyond their ability to help him.
He entered treatment in Denver six months from when his downward spiral began.
Until then, eating disorders were never a part of the fabric of our family. Sure, we knew of others who’d struggled with it, but it never impacted us in a meaningful way. We went from knowing virtually nothing about eating disorders to being a walking encyclopedia on the subject. And what I learned was shocking.
- In the U.S., 30 million people will be impacted by an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime. However, because of the stigma surrounding eating disorders and mental health, only one in ten will seek treatment.
- Half of all Americans either have had an eating disorder or know someone who has.
- It is the deadliest form of any mental illness and claims one life every 62 seconds as a direct result of the illness.
- It’s the 3rd most common chronic illness among adolescents and yet it does not discriminate—male, female, all ethnicities and all age groups are vulnerable.
It begs the question of why eating disorders are so prevalent in this country and yet so few know the warning signs, how critical it is to seek early intervention, and seeking specialized care can make the difference between life and death.
So what can we all do? Today is the first day of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, sponsored by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). Here at ERC, we’re proud to partner with NEDA in making this a week that can save lives. We ask that you join us this week by:
- Understanding the warning signs of eating disorders.
- Taking action if you see that a loved one is exhibiting signs.
- Getting screened if you suspect you may be suffering from an eating disorder.
- And raising awareness by joining the conversation and sharing information about eating disorders.
Every day we will publish important information about the facts behind eating disorders and how you can ensure that you or a loved one gets appropriate treatment. Please help shine a spotlight on this week by sharing this information with others.
Together we can make a difference. We can help end someone’s suffering by ensuring that they are not alone in their battle. We can save lives!
P.S. I’m happy to share with you that my son is now in his final year of college and has a bright, fulfilling future in front of him that he’s eager to pursue.