Eating Disorders Continue to Plague Americans
Local support group aids in recovery
ANCHORAGE - Across the United States, an estimated 10 million people are living with eating disorders, which include anorexia and bulimia.
It’s a disorder with the highest mortality rates of any mental illness, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.
Corine DePriest, 22, is one of millions who say they’ve had their joys in life disappear because of bulimia.
DePriest used to play her harp religiously.
“All that is just a chore and an obligation after living an eating disorder. You worship your eating disorder,” said DePriest.
She says she’s been bulimic for seven years, and is still working to fully recover from the illness.
Raised in Fairbanks, food was never an issue for DePriest, who says she was a healthy teenager.
She says it was about dealing with stress. She was home-schooled until her sophomore year, that’s when she went back to public school. And for her, that’s what triggered her struggle.
“At the time it felt like I had to, like there was no other choice,” she said.
For almost a year, she was able to hide it.
Kimber Olson works with people with eating disorders and says it's an illness that can begin when someone feels helpless.
“Often times eating disorders are about control, and if you think about it... we control what goes into our bodies,” said Olson.
Help eventually came for DePriest at a treatment center in Arizona, where she spent a few months trying to recover. But when she returned to Fairbanks, she says she relapsed and couldn’t find help there, so she moved to Anchorage.
“Unless you really understand an eating disorder, it’s really hard to treat somebody,” she said.
But even in Anchorage, there wasn't support so she created it herself by starting the Eating Disorders Support Group.
Every week, a handful of women show up to DePriest’s home to talk about their challenges and their successes.
It’s a group the women hope will one day help them regain control of the joys they used to treasure.