BANGOR – There is no cure for eating disorders but knowing the symptoms and how to address the problem is key to overcoming the ailment.
However, the hardest part for patients is often recognizing there is a problem.
Monday kicks off National Eating Disorder Awareness Week and Acadia Hospital has produced a video to help parents, friends and people who suffer from the disorder to identify the signs.
Houlton natives Taylor and Becky Reed know all to well about eating disorders. Taylor, a dancer, was in high school when her eating disorder weakened her so much she had to give up dancing.
“I was always a front row dancer and somehow moved to the back and I just, you know, wasn’t getting the steps,” said Taylor Reed, an eating disorder advocate and survivor.
“She had seen herself in the dance mirrors and she had finally seen what everyone else was seeing,” said her mother, Becky Reed, of Houlton.
Taylor Reed is featured in the Acadia Hospital video, the third in a series that started with suicide prevention and ends later this year with building resiliency for youth.
She said one of the hardest parts of her recovery was asking for help. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t just taken that step to admitting there was a problem. And there is nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with admitting there is a problem,” the younger Reed said. “That is the first step in gaining your strength and gaining your health.”
There are three major eating disorders — anorexia, bulimia and binge eating — and they effect all age groups. “Eating disorders are most commonly found in adolescents, but more recently we’ve been seeing them earlier as well as later in life, so this isn’t something that effects one specific age group,” said Mark Allen, of Acadia Hospital. “And unfortunately once you develop it, the illness can be quite progressive and end life earlier, if you don’t do something to correct it.”
Those effected don’t typically even know they have a problem, he said. That is why friends and family are so important.
“Family support is paramount because folks who are struggling with eating disorders don’t acknowledge that they have a problem,” Allen said.