Student walks for eating disorder awareness

by Kit Murray

Eating disorders aren’t often discussed publically, but multimedia journalism senior Adam Pope isn’t afraid to talk about his own struggles. 

Pope has been recovering from anorexia for a few years now. The illness, he said, has caused difficulty for him in school and his personal life. The day he decided to get help — when he made the phone call — was a turning point in his life and set him on the road to recovery.

Since Pope got help at Sanford, he’s worked with the National Eating Disorder Association, which is hosting its third annual walk on Sunday, Feb. 28 at the Mall of America. The event coincides with the end of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Feb. 21 – 27.

Pope encourages anyone worrying about their weight, eating or body image to contact the National Eating Disorder Association. 

“If you’re not at a point where you want to call someone, just confide in a friend or a loved one,” Pope said. “(Eating disorders) make you feel very alone, very secluded. Whenever I say ‘eating disorder’ out loud, I feel a little stronger. Say it to someone on the phone, say it to a friend. Every inch of strength you can get is a blessing.”

Getting involved and finding strength in numbers is an effective way to recovery, Pope said, adding that having a team of support, like therapists, doctors, family and friends, is key.

As a man, reaching out was especially difficult for Pope. Eating disorders tend to affect more women than men.

Eradicating the stigma of eating disorders has proven to be a significant struggle, too, Pope said.

“Getting to know everyone in the organization and what it took to put on a walk was a lot more than I expected. We have a lot of people in the region that come to that (Twin Cities) one.”

The National Eating Disorder Association walk is a day-long event bringing Midwest communities together to raise awareness of eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia, which can affect up to 15 percent of Americans.

The 15-minute walk, a quick lap around the MOA, precedes an opening ceremony, guest speaker and activities.

Fargo-Moorhead doesn’t have a similar walk, Pope said.

For help with an eating disorder, visit Hendrix or call the National Eating Disorder Hotline, 800-931-2237.

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