World Eating Disorders Action Day hits home

Former Neosho student shares struggle
World Eating Disorders Action Day hits home
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June 2 marks World Eating Disorders Action Day and health care professionals across the country are showing their support for the movement to end self-inflicted suffering with the motto: “Eating Disorders Can’t Afford to Wait.”

In honor of the day, one woman shares her story of overcoming Anorexia.

Across Erin Salinas’ foot is the tattooed phrase: “Live with Passion.” It was inspired by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and associated disorders mission to help people like her, struggling with Anorexia, something Salinas lived with for nearly five years when she lived in Neosho before moving to Springfield for college.

“I first developed an eating disorder around 8th grade. I think I was about 14 years old. I’m an only child so I didn’t feel like I had a lot of control in my life. I figured I could control what I eat, and when I eat, so I just sort of stopped eating, weeks at a time,” explained Salinas.

Salinas lost friends over her illness and was hospitalized with a feeding tube. Her lowest point: weighing in at just 66 pounds when she also turned to cutting her thigh, leaving painful scars.

“I just thought I was fat. I had that unhealthy image in my head. My addiction was not eating. I don’t advocate that part of my brain anymore to feed that addiction so I decided to cover it up [with a tattoo].”

According to ANAD, up to 30 million people, both men and women, suffer from an eating disorder each year. Dr. Jennifer Copeland at the Ozark Center says, “Girls between the ages of 15 and 24 are 12 times more likely to die of Anorexia Nervosa than any other cause of death.”

It wasn’t easy, but Salinas made a conscious choice to take real control of her life by letting go of her eating disorder and filling the void with healthy activities like volunteering and working out.

“I love, you know, playing on the playground with my son and just going on hikes, just healthier options. I couldn’t really do much years ago being so thin, so it’s really changed my life for the better.”

Dr. Copeland says that with effective treatment, approximately 60% of those with eating disorders go on to find recovery. The Reconnect Eating Disorders Clinic in Joplin offers comprehensive, multidisciplinary care – even for those who are uninsured.

According to Reconnect, behaviors associated with eating disorders may include:

— Constant adherence to increasingly strict diets, regardless of weight
— Habitual trips to the bathroom immediately after eating
— Secretly bingeing on large amounts of food
— Hoarding large amounts of food
— Increase in consumption of laxatives, diuretics or diet pills
— Exercising compulsively, often several hours per day
— Using prescription stimulant medications and/or illicit stimulant drugs to suppress appetite

To learn more about Reconnect Eating Disorders Clinic or to schedule an appointment, visit ozarkcenter.com/eatingdisorders or call 417.347.8080.