As a freshman at Stanley Lake High School, Amy Reese wanted to be the best at something. She had always been thin and figured that was what she wanted to be best at.
The now-sophomore mathematics education major at CSU entered high school at just under 100 pounds. But when she started taking birth control, the medication made her gain weight she wasn’t expecting.
She tried to restrict her eating habits, but her parents were concerned.
“My parents were worried but they never sent me to counseling. They always made me come to the dinner table,” Reese said. “I ate so that they wouldn’t send me to counseling.”
The change in diet wasn’t doing the job, she said, so she started eating ice cubes and working out around three times a day, hiding her exercise bulimia from her parents.
She couldn’t put on a pair of jeans until she had a “good day” because they made her feel fat. But she was generally in a bad mood, she said.
The relief she needed was just around the corner in the form of a knee injury from running too much. Since the injury, Reese continues to battle with bulimia, but she said is doing much better than before.
“It just flares up depending on what I can and can’t control,” Reese said.
A small percentage of people struggling with an eating disorder are actually diagnosed with a specific type of disorder. The disorder can show itself in numerous ways and many times be a combination of a few.
Whitney Smith, a dietician at Hartshorn Health Center, said 90 percent of women have an eating disorder, but the majority of them can’t be diagnosed because their affliction is unique.
“(They) are under the ‘not otherwise specified eating disorder’ category,” Smith said.
University Counseling Center officials said 80 percent of college students, including men, have a disordered eating problem.
This means that although it may not be as advanced, students still have a problem skipping meals, vomiting occasionally, exercising too much or have a distorted view of their body.
“Both men and women come into the Counseling Center with eating disorder and body image concerns,” said Susan McQuiddy, associate director of the Counseling Center. “Eating disorders are seen as feminine, therefore many men don’t come in to get the help they actually need.”
According to the Alliance for Eating Disorder Awareness, on average 24 million Americans, or one in five women and one in 24 men struggle with an eating disorder.
Reese said the last time she purged was three months ago.
“It still affects me, but God protects me,” Reese said. “No matter how many times I try, I physically can’t make myself throw-up anymore.”
Staff writer Katy Hallock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.