Life in Balance

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Myth busting at St. Theresa of Lisieux CHS in Richmond Hill

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Every day we consume so much information, whether it is from the Internet, television, magazines or simple conversation. After acquiring knowledge, regardless of whether it is true or false, we are left to determine what to believe and what to further investigate.

Photo by: Longzero

Like in the popular Discovery Channel show MythBusters, Eating Disorders of York Region is going to different high schools to do just that: Demystify common misconceptions about the highly stigmatized disorders.

On Thurs. April 26 and Fri. April 27, EDOYR visited St. Theresa of Lisieux Catholic High School in Richmond Hill to discuss common myths, prevention and the support available for individuals affected by eating disorders as well as their families.

Three steps in demystifying common misconceptions about eating disorders include becoming aware of any biased and inaccurate information that may have been consumed through conversation, media and the like, challenging and analyzing that very content and affirming for ourselves our own feelings. Ultimately, engaging our true sense of self to debunk inaccurate messages.

I graduated from STL in the summer of 2008. Though my time at the school was filled with memories of friends and fun, I also struggled with understanding beauty. Unfortunately, I chose to believe that I wasn’t pretty because of my weight. Every summer, I would try to slim down so I would feel more confident and strong. Each time I lost a few pounds and would thus fit into my smaller clothes, I would hear complements like, “Wow, you look great! How much weight have you lost?” I would strive to look even better the next day and the day after that, whether that meant doing an extra thirty crunches before bed or eating 300-less-calories.

Those comments were addicting. So addicting that I was no longer attempting a healthy lifestyle for myself. Instead, I was cutting back calories (a dangerous action at an age where numerous physical changes were taking place inside my body) and working out so other people would notice my aesthetic differences. Ultimately, I wanted to fit in.

At the end of my high school career, the problem wasn’t that I was unappreciated by others. In fact, the problem was that I was unappreciated by myself. I had devoted so much time to changing myself to please others that I had forgotten what it felt like to live, breathe, walk, talk and act in my own skin. I forgot that being me wasn’t about what people thought about who I was or who I should try to be. I had started to believe that the only part of me that mattered was how I looked in my “skinny” jeans, because I had based what it meant to be myself on the appreciation I received and eventually sought from others.

Being at STL during the last week of April was an opportunity to help others who may have been struggling with similar issues.

Though I didn’t suffer from an eating disorder, it was hard for me to ask for guidance about my misconceptions when I was in high school, as it often is difficult to ask for help in many instances. The first step for me was getting to know who I was. My goal, instead of appreciation from others, became learning how to guide myself, even though I had the support of guidance counselors, teachers, parents and friends. Once I understood how to encourage, motivate, guide and support myself, I then started understanding that something about how I perceived the girl I was did not seem right.

EDOYR has recently created an Early Intervention Centre with the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation. It aims to disrupt an eating disorder as soon as possible. If you or someone you know may be struggling from misconceptions of body image, disordered eating or an eating disorder, medical attention may be necessary. Feel free to contact if you have any questions and/or visit our website.

By: Leviana Coccia
Events and Communications Coordinator at EDOYR
Alumna of St. Theresa of Lisieux

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