Eating disorders on campus

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By Christian Henry

By Christian Henry

Sean Conner, 18, a student at Riverside City College, admits to struggling with anorexia and bulimia for the past three years of his life.

“When I was 15 I had started to restrict. I had weighed 235 the year before, and I was determined to lose it all. I ended up losing more than 100 pounds,” Conner recalls. “I would deprive myself as long as I could from eating fattening foods and liquids, at some point I would end up bingeing thousands of calories of food before throwing it all up.”

When asked if gender roles played a huge part in seeking treatment for men, he was quick to respond with a surprising opinion.

“Absolutely not, anyone with the will to seek treatment would do so, but it also depends on if the family is even involved or not.”

Stephanie Couey, a beautiful and vivacious 19 year old agreed to share her experience with anorexia.

“When I was 14, it started with depression as well as minor sexual abuse,” Couey said. “Complete starvation followed and eventually turned into compulsive exercising.”

When the discussion soon led up to family dynamics, she hesitated, but continued.

“My mother was always so obsessive and perfectionist in everything I did,” she said. “When it came down for me to go into treatment, I went in kicking and screaming; my parents had pretty much forced me into it.”

Couey’s eating disorder ended up worsening and almost killing her prior to this summer. When asked if she was recovering, and if she ever feels like she needs to go back to that horrible point in her life, she said she struggles.

“I am recovering for the third time, but yet I still think about going back, every single day,” she said.

Darissa Brooks, a sub-specialist and family therapist in the field of eating disorders, responded very directly to questions about the topic.

“Research is not up to date when it comes to identifying these certain subjects. But when it comes to gender roles, I feel it does matter when men decide to seek treatment or not,” she said. “Men do not seek treatment because this disorder is perceived as a female disorder, although we have seen a rise in men seeking treatment.”

“I think non-tradition psychotherapy really helps, as well as therapy specifically specialized for treatment in males,” Brooks said.

While not all hospitals offer treatment for men with eating disorders, research does show that more are starting to set up options for men in seeking treatment.

California is one of the best states to offer treatment for eating disorders. It is also one of the best when it comes to treatment specializing in the recovery process for men.

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