Jul 29, 2014
Anorexia On Our Doorstep

From the COLlive inbox: Parents were shocked to discover their daughter is anorexic and wish the seminary was alert to the danger.

By anonymous

What does your daughter hope to get out of going to seminary?

Probably she would like to improve her learning skills and learn how to tackle a text of in Chumash, Tanya and even Shulchan Oruch. Probably she would want to be inspired by Chassidus and to consolidate and internalize whatever she may have already learned so far.

I should imagine that she would also like to meet girls with similar ideals and work out together with them and her Mashpia the type of future life that she would wish to lead and how best to be a good wife and mother.

What she most definitely is not hoping to achieve, is to become anorexic!

I am a Shliach in a small town, and for almost 30 years my wife and I have had to bring up our children, after a certain age, from a distance. By that I mean that we have had to send them away to out of town schools and become parents over the phone, skype and for the short periods when they came home for Yomim Tovim. The challenges that this kind of parenting presents is perhaps for another article, but now I wish to address anorexia.

Four year ago one of our daughters went to a well-known seminary, offering all the right things. Good curriculum, amazing teachers, exciting trips and a caring and Chassidish faculty. However when she came home for Pesach we were shocked. What she had not told us, and neither did the seminary, was that she was not eating.

We now had to deal with a very sick girl. She had lost so much weight that the doctors wanted her admitted into hospital. It was only because of my wife's strength and determination and our wish not to place her into that very non-kosher environment, that we persuaded the health authorities to allow us to care for her at home.

With the help of Hashem we succeeded and after a very long time, much Davening, love and patience, we were able to nurse her back to good health and today Boruch Hashem our daughter is well.

Last September another one of our daughters went off to a "good" seminary and to our horror she too has now become anorexic.

The causes of anorexia are complicated and I feel it is neither productive nor helpful to lay blame at anyone's doorstep.

I do however, have a complaint, against the seminaries concerned and I do believe this goes for most, if not all the other seminaries.

When girls (and for that matter boys in Yeshiva) are put in their care, there is an expectation and an obligation that every aspect of their well-being will be taken care of. Both the Ruchniyus and the Gashmiyus.

I believe that every seminary MUST have at least one dedicated staff member who has been trained to identify at a very early stage, signs of eating disorders. They must be trained how to help the girl and how best to alert the parents. How and when to seek medical help and how to make the situation better and not worse. There is a correct way to deal with anorexia and an incorrect way. People need to be trained.

I urge any parent sending a girl away to seminary to ask, in the same way that you inquire about staff and curriculum, whether they have a dedicated counsellor who is trained in spotting eating disorders and how best to deal with it. If they reply that they don't have such a person or even if they say they will be training someone in the near future then DON'T send your child to that school! Better keep them at home!

Believe me this is a matter of Pikuch Nefesh.

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Opinions and Comments
Magnificent article thx collive....
(7/29/2014 9:44:17 PM)
I give you a lot of credit and thank you for bringing this very vital issue to the forefront. Yes, anorexia is a type of disorder (mental) however, there is tremendous pressure amongst "our" young ladies claiming that to look good and cool you've got to look like a pencil or even better a toothpick. Why has this happened out there? Is it from the goyishe models out there who probably starve themselves to look like they do? It is no good to be at either extreme. Being "very" overweight is not healthy but having "no fleish" on oneself is not healthy either and could have many medical problems as noted above Another common side affect is: No menstruation cycle = no capacity to have a baby ch"v. Boys you too out there Don't demand that the girl you want to marry should be no more than a size 4. The girl might not stay that size forever and what will you do then? Please girls and boys, eat healthy, have yourself a treat sometimes and you will be fine.
(7/29/2014 9:49:39 PM)
Good point !!
The boys shouldn't ask girls to be size 4 cuz this size doesn't stay forever ,people change ....
(7/29/2014 10:02:03 PM)
I'm shocked how close-minded part of this article is. May I ask what is wrong with being admitted to a facility with TRAINED people? What about medical help is non kosher? I am a medical professional and have seen many patients in the psychiatric unit. If your child needs help, you need to get beyond the "stigma". Nursing an anorexic back to health is no easy task.
(7/29/2014 10:10:47 PM)
My daughter suffered from this all of high school and seminary without our family's knowledge. we were not aware. Just found out recently. The problem is that she confided in friends that she needs help. She found a therapist to help her boruch hashem. Our family found out after the fact. She is now up to shidduchim and her "good friends" spread a rumor about her that she saw a therapist.
(7/29/2014 10:15:59 PM)
Recovered from ED
Did having two daughters with eating disorders not make you realize it's an emotional issue your daughters are having that has NOTHING to do with seminary? You can't get an eating disorder in six months. Your daughters definitely were struggling with emotional issues which turned into an eating disorder way before seminary. You are right that in seminary there is no oversight, and the same goes for high schools. Especially seeing the numbers of frum girls with eating disorders makes you realize that not enough is being done. But as parents to your daughters, it's your responsibility to give them love, care, acceptance, support and PROFESSIONAL help to help them overcome this. The only way to help someone with an eating disorder is by having a professional licensed therapist advice you on what to do and follow that. We are talking about pikuach nefesh, so thinking that the hechsher of the facility your daughter is going to is more important then your daughters life....

....I would know, I have been there and b''h recovered.

Please care about your children's health more then about how others will see it, or minor nuances of chassidishkeit.
(7/29/2014 10:18:44 PM)
Good Point
The seminaries should lookout for the girls.However, percentage wise most girls do not become anorexic.
(7/29/2014 10:24:13 PM)
Standards of being size 0-4 .... Vs healthy life style
Teach the high students , all students , how to be/stay healthy and keep healthy life style .....
Encourage the youth to do more gym /sports etc ...
(7/29/2014 10:26:23 PM)
Emphasis on Physical
Of course, Anorexia is an extreme and an illness. And I agree with the writer that the seminary should have brought it to the attention of the parents. However, I do see an increasing trend among our boys to look for "trophy wives" who are beautiful and svelt. They have absorbed this from the secular world around them. This puts a great deal of pressure on the girls. I believe that some seminaries, in fact, select girls for these attributes. They are more like sororities than seminaries.
(7/29/2014 10:27:36 PM)
Parents' Responsibility
Anorexia is an emotional disorder. As a parent, it is your responsibility to be aware of your child's emotional health and make sure to take care of any issues ch"v while still in early stages. Treating anorexia takes alot more than simply "nursing" your child back to health. While she may appear to be eating normally again, her eating disorder will not simply disappear and she must be treated properly, for a substantial period of time by a mental health professional. While it does sometimes happen, it is not common for girls to become anorexic and show the first signs of unhealthy body image during seminary; this usually follows years of unhealthy low self esteem or a distorted view of the way they look. (At the risk of sounding incriminatory, often unhealthy body image and perception starts at home and with the family culture...)
Wishing you much luck in the successful treatment and remediation of the emotional health of your children.
(7/29/2014 10:31:43 PM)
I hope some professionals jump in here. The first couple of comments are ignorant and insulting. Anorexia is a lot more complex than the desire to 'look like a toothpick'. BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder), self-mutilation, depression and severe self-esteem problems. A very complex disease. Telling a dyslexic to 'eat more' is counter-productive and harmful. I urge ColLive to excersize responsibility. Anorexics reading this will not be helped by ignorant comments. Please have professionals moderate this discussion.
(7/29/2014 10:33:46 PM)
take some responsibility
Sorry, if both your daughters became anorexic in seminary, i think you need to be looking more closely at yourselves and how you raised them.
(7/29/2014 10:34:15 PM)
very important article
this happens in schools high schools too very good chassidishe high schools where there are many out of town as well as in town girls. it is not an area to be neglected and I appreciate the authors assertiveness. if there is one article that schools administrations should pay attention to it is this. and I think that the best way to do it is to have someone designated to spot these or other mental, emotional disorders and have it dealt with immediately whether professionally if necessary or to take less extreme measures to help. another issue that arises and I say this as a girl in high school is when the issues are not dealt with correctly and this leaves the job on the hands of the freinds of this girl being a freind and this creates a very unhealthy situation.
(7/29/2014 10:36:42 PM)
Thank you for posting this
Thank you for posting this, it is very important. I also agree with the other comments that part of the problem is that girls think the only way to get a shidduch is to be thin. They don't get this idea out of the air, there are mamesh boys who do specify not bigger than size 4 etc. Parents of boys would do well to speak to their sons about what is really important.
(7/29/2014 10:58:37 PM)
Can this happen in our lifetime?
Very good point, but when the Yeshiva's are cutting costs at the expense of fresh meals, and rationing food (yes, that wasn't a typo) this is a merely a pipe dream.
(7/29/2014 11:00:03 PM)
Brave one!
I applaud you for writing this!!
(7/29/2014 11:00:30 PM)
2 and 3
Don't blame the boys.
You know that boys and men have eating disorders too?
Don't be so square.
(7/29/2014 11:14:39 PM)
thank you collive for addressing an important issue! Seminaries (and even high schools) should be aware of this and take action
(7/29/2014 11:22:01 PM)
What About the Opposite?
I've heard of the opposite happening. Most girls talk about how you gain weight when you go to sem. So I heard of a seminary that does the opposite, they see a girl who is dieting in seminary and then they start calling parents. That could just plant the idea in their head. Seminary is a transition time, so girls are a lot more vulnerable. Which is exactly in line with what you are saying in this article--there should be some sort of advisor/counselor to look out for the girls who might be having a harder time in this transition period. But not just a mom... an educated professional.
(7/29/2014 11:24:07 PM)
Y did you wait four yrs
Y disuse wait so long to write ?
(7/29/2014 11:48:48 PM)
Perhaps it is our own fault....
It is very easy to lay blame here, and I am happy to see that the author here is careful not too. I fully support the proposition given here to train staff members in these matters. This goes well beyond just anorexia, and is very important.

Still many people like to blame the "goyishe" world and its influences. The truth is, likely the blame is on us. We make speaking matters of feelings and emotions taboo, and create a vacuum that must be filled. We create a situation were boys do not understand girls, and girls don't understand boys. So, to fill this vacuum, they look for stereotypes. The boys believe that the girls will only like them if they are cool, and the girls believe they have to look good to be liked. This is our fault.

We also do nothing to change the these beliefs. Instead we reinforce them by keeping the genders separate, but together in there own groups. We foster competition.
(7/29/2014 11:53:02 PM)
so important
But it probably began to surface in high school. My experience that in high school there are always girls with one form of eating issue or another. The additional stress of being so far away in seminary may trigger a rise in symptoms.
I hope at every educators' conference and kinus, there are sessions about this and other psychological issues that may arise- mood disorders for boys and girls, sexual identity, etc. For schools with dorms (and camps) there is too much reliance on 19-20 year old dorm madrichot.
(7/30/2014 12:06:16 AM)
did your second daughter go to the same seminary as the first?
(7/30/2014 12:21:12 AM)
Oh, for goodness sakes!
Someone is actually asking whether "goyishe models" are to blame? I think not, especially since we as Chabad are discouraged from paying attention to that kind of media display. I do wonder how the unfortunate circumstances went so far, when Skype was being used on a regular basis. Maybe the girls hid behind things to cover it up? Did The parents communicate their concerns related to the 1st daughter's illness when their 2nd daughter entered? I would assume they did, which begs the question as to who actually was keeping watch and following up with communication. If the school did not notice, which is the reason I would never send my child to such an unprofessional and careless place, then wouldn't the parents have maintained communication or asked their daughter to step out from behind the "cover up"? I don't get this. Something or someone(s) is scary here.
(7/30/2014 12:28:08 AM)
Can you post anorexia symptoms and/or ways to spot it? (not all thin people are necessarily anorexic) What are the clues to look out for?
(7/30/2014 12:33:28 AM)
to 23
Not only are not all thin people anorexic, but actually you don't even have to be skinny to have an eating disorder.
That can sometimes be the issue, that we think because someone isn't deadly thin, they are ok.
It is much more complex.
read up and educate yourself from a healthy source, like something-fishy.org or other proper sources
(7/30/2014 12:47:37 AM)
Most schools are not on top of it
I was in high school, and in seminary, with an eating disorder, and no teacher realized, even my roommates who knew I wasn't eating didn't really do anything about it.
proper awareness and support, with licensed professionals, need to play a bigger role for our young women.
(7/30/2014 12:49:51 AM)
To all the 'wacky' moms out there
There are mothers who ask on a shidduch call while inquiring about a potential wife for their son, if she is a size 4, or a size 6 or is she very slim.....
You unfortunately help make this matter happen
WAKE UP!!!!!
What are you teaching your sons???????????????
What message are you trying to give over to our girls??????????????????????
Let me ask you, if your son's wife becomes a size 8, 10 or 16 or whatever after she gets married, does he now get to look for a new size 4 or 6?????????????????
Is he marrying a size tag on a skirt?????????????????
(7/30/2014 1:20:01 AM)
#12 Cruel
as a loving parent of struggling teen girls, I find your comment to the parent to "take some responsibility" ignorant and offensive. I have no doubt this family is taking responsibility, and even has the courage to share the pain with their community, in the hopes of helping others. Your uneducated criticism only keeps this destructive stigma alive.
(7/30/2014 1:35:42 AM)
Not all boys look at labels
Mine didn't. Never once did they mention a dress size. my daughter in law is a little plump and who cares? My son adores her and we do too. Girls need to realize thin doesn't equal love or happiness and thin certainly doesn't mean healthy. A little fleish on the bones is just fine and a happy size 12 is better than a miserable size zero. Bachurim also should look at the whole picture not just the exterior package. #3 is right, bodies change especially women after having children. To the author, I hope your daughter recovers fully very soon, it can be a fatal illness. Good luck!
(7/30/2014 1:50:28 AM)
re 10
agree with 10 , it is a problem that emanates from the home . Something someone said as a throw comment has cemented it self into the girls head as negative .
Very complex ...all i can say is my daughter had Bulemia , it took a while to figure out what was going on ( she
was at home,because it will never happen to me)). Bottom line there is nothing here in Oz , so we sent her to Monte Nido in Calabasis for a year($$$$$$'s) ( mostly Jewish girls there ,not religious) .It is live in facility for girls with Anorexia etc.
good luck.
(7/30/2014 2:11:04 AM)
In general
I think parents have to stop complimenting very thin girls and stop looking down at over-weight people. Mothers often send messages with vibes. The same goes for fashion. I believe, If you want your children to be Tznius, stop turning dressing fashionably into a religion.
When I was looking for my B"H Chassidish sons Shidduch, I did not ask references about her appearance, her character was the most important aspect.
(7/30/2014 4:11:15 AM)
to 4 "livid idiot"
if you are in the medical profession as you claim .get out quickly before you are fired or harm those under your care.
in your comment you have shown you are to arrogant and insensitive to care for others .or you would have read how the parents were Boruch Hashem able to restore their daughter to good health in a loving kosher way.
you must beg these parents mechilah for you hurtful unhelpful and uneducated comment
ps if you deal with your anger issues you will become a much better person
(7/30/2014 4:28:55 AM)
Parents should not blaming the seminaries
Im sorry, but the parents should take responsibility too. And what about getting medical help is " non kosher"???
(7/30/2014 5:04:35 AM)
# 30
I couldn't agree more with you.
(7/30/2014 7:22:17 AM)
Blaming the boys
Blaming Bachurim for wanting a pretty girl is either the sickest or most immature thing I have ever seen.

A Bachur has every right to want a pretty, attractive, in-shape (yes, in-shape, not anorexic, but not chubby either) nice girl, just as much as a girl can ask for a handsome, tall, cute, smart guy. If you are overweight, you should be losing the weight regardless, for health reasons.

So many of us have weight issues these days that we now blame the boys for this??? Give me a break!

The argument that "she can gain weight after marriage" is moot, unless she gains a morbid amount of weight which may actually cause problems.
(7/30/2014 7:27:04 AM)
Eating disorder studies
I was in Social Work school a number of years ago. I was surprised to hear that considering how small our Frum community is, a very significant (I think it was a majority) of the studies on food disorders are done within our community.

It's the one area where we have this issue even more than in Western culture that puts such a strong emphasis on being thin and attractive.

I remember we had a discussion for why this is the case. One point was the centrality of eating and food within our communities when it comes to any event.
(7/30/2014 8:46:28 AM)
It's a big problem with the boys
It's not just girls with this problem the boys have it too. Anorexia comes when one feels they are losing control in their life. Food they could have full control of! What's more worrying is the self harming that comes from it. Parents need to be aware of symptoms and act on it straight away. Don't ignore it!
(7/30/2014 8:48:30 AM)
Kids at home pick up very quickly on what is important and acceptable to the parents. WE are the ones who set the tone of what is good or bad. Yes, the school needs to take some responsibility, but the parents need to be on top of everything at all times. Not an easy task. but nothing is. Remember "you have to think about the Chinuch of your child 1/2 hour per day." Multiply that times 8 or 9 or 10. Yes it is hard but so is cooking, laundry, diapers and toilet training. The outside world has definitely influenced our way of thinking, acting, etc. this makes our job harder. What is easy is easy what is harder, we have to work harder at.
Besuros tovos.
(7/30/2014 9:30:11 AM)
A difficult diagnosis
It would be helpful for camps, high schools and sems to keep an educated eye open, but it can be an extremely difficult diagnosis to make. Even to suspect!! My teen daughter skips dinner 4 nights in a row with good excuses, and when questioned, she tells me she eats other things. I see her eating. Is it binge eating combined with bulemia? is it normal? if I push her about it, i might become the REASON she gets an eating disorder! If I am a sem counselor and notice a girl skipping meals and she tells me she can't stand the greasy institutional food so she is buying/making her own... if I see her eat, I can't realistically count her calories without tremendous insult and injury to her. Until a person falls seriously ill, it is very very hard to draw that line between a picky teen eater and a sick child who needs help. Especially if they aren't overly skinny. (and many with eating disorders look normal).
(7/30/2014 9:52:41 AM)
To 33
I'm not #4 but your response to him/her is really out of line. It is you with the anger issues. Anorexia is a serious medical/psychological problem & i too think the author should look for the best care for his daughter, regardless of where it might be. That's not our call, though, but if you cant trust a medical professional's opinion, who can you trust. I think #3 needs to calm down &stop being so aggressive and rude.
(7/30/2014 10:13:03 AM)
A mom
My opinion is that possibly girls are becoming anorexic in seminary because of the "stigma" that I'v heard (and the girls for sure hear from many people) "Oh, youre going to seminary...you're for sure gonna gain tons of weight. My sister/friends/neighbor came back 20 lbs overweight."
As adults we have to be much more careful with how we speak to teens regarding weight and how we percieve anyone with a few extra lbs. The girls become anxious about their looks and what others will say about and to them, which could lead to a disorder.
(7/30/2014 10:19:42 AM)
Yes, a problem and Not just For EDs!!
Yes, been there, done that.

You are absolutely right that the seminaries need someone who is attuned to emotional issues, my seminary had none and I spent the whole year in the bathroom throwing up and exercising. Whoever is in charge in these seminaries don't have the necessary skills. You don't even need a qualified person on staff, as I doubt sems can afford them anyway, you do need someone who is kind and open to these things, who understands mental health and who can call the parents and Many many people do not.

Now, why do kids develop EDs in the first place: this is another story. An eating disorder is a huge deal... It's not just food, not just body image, not just lack of connection, not just a need for independence, not just emotional illness. It is a combination of all the above. I am very sure that if you will take any of the paths above you will discover possible causes and events that happened much before your girls entered seminary. However, seminary was the trigger: especially with emphasis of keeping the weight down, being in a new situation, trying to fit in, looking good for marriage.

Now if you understand that, it's not just seminaries who have the responsibilities: we may want to ask ourselves how did my child get this way? It is the responsibility of schools and parents to teach proper values to their kids: that far more then body issues, the most important things are our principles and connection to Hashem.

More then that, parents need to understand their kids.I just want to emphasize the last point: there is something lacking here. I say this as a person who struggled for quite some time. There is some dissonance and the girls may not even know it. Perhaps you dont even know it. This is the main point: how can you help your kids if you don't know what's going on inside, or they are not comfortable sharing? Why is that? Don't believe that the eating disorder jus happened in seminary. And on that point: have they really recovered? Just because they may look fine and are eating ok does not mean they are ok at all.
(7/30/2014 10:22:39 AM)
Is there a point here?
While I sympathize with the parents writing this article, I'm not entirely sure what the point is. As a social worker I can attest to the truth of #6 that an ED is not developed in a 6 month vacuum. EDs are the result of severe emotional and self esteem issues that grow and deepen until they manifest in harmful ways. While it is highly unfortunate that in this case perhaps being away in seminary was the catalyst for the situation, it is unfair to place the responsibility on the seminary for the cause of the ED. Rather than ask for anorexia specialist to be installed in seminary, perhaps we should be asking for administrations that are more caring and involved. Being away from home and feeling alone in a new place is a great breeding ground for many issues not just eating disorders.

I do not know these girls, but in my experience there are red flags far prior to the actual development of an eating disorder. While it would be nice to have professionals who are trained in recognizing eating disorders in seminaries, the likelihood and practicality of that happening is slim to none. I would instead urge parents to educate themselves on the symptoms of emotional distress in children and teens and be proactive in dealing with these issues as they arise. That would be the most effective way to deal with ED. Once developed, eating disorders are extremely difficult to beat. Please, parents, take a look inwards and educate yourselves. If you don't know more than 5 warning signs of emotional distress in children and teens, now is the time to learn them. Don't wait for schools and other institutions to do the work for you. They won't and then it may be too late.
(7/30/2014 11:24:39 AM)
Ice cream for tznius
The new ice cream for tznius campaign....
(7/30/2014 11:26:19 AM)
one who cares
stop sending girls away to seminary we have a wonderful seminary right here ashrei yoshvei besecho young girls need to be at home where parents can supervise and help them mature into young responsible adults 18 is young girls need to be under parents supervision hatzlocho to all moshiach now
(7/30/2014 11:31:31 AM)
parents don't always want to listen
I once had a girl who worked for us and it became apparent after a while that she had an eating disorder. I contacted the parents and they denied everything and weren't interested in hearing the truth. It was very sad to see, we tried to help the girl but she wasn't willing and we had no parent support. Parents need to be willing to listen and not be afraid of ruining their child's shiduch prospects.
(7/30/2014 11:41:59 AM)
Seminary is not an instituation for mental health. Its a school of higher education. Certainly in such an institution the staff is responsible for their students wellbeing. But we can not expect seminaries to be proffesional in mental health to the degree that a staff member can discover and diagnoise a disorder. Seminaries have so many responsibilities already and unless they are specialized in catering to at risk students, they probably have a big enough job just catering to the typical student in our day in age trying to give them the most proper chassidishe education and environmet.

Another point-Schools are places for learning, not home. The world has to understand that school can not replace the home/parents/family. A parent is responsible for their childs life. The part of life called education we entrust to school. School is not everything a child needs its only a fraction of life. Kal vichomer seminary which is a diviaion of higher learning ment to go beyond the neccesary educational needs. This is a fact we need to be aware of regardless of disorders.
(7/30/2014 11:49:23 AM)
Very good article. Very necessary. Thanks for this.
(7/30/2014 1:39:55 PM)
yes, this has many emotional counterparts....for sure. However, I know a (frum) natural doctor who said that there is a counterpart in a mineral/vitamin deficiency. Never be sure about anything, be open to other possibilities. A deficiency in minerals and/or vitamins due to malapsorption can add to the issue because the person is not getting the proper nutrition which the brain/body connection need, and it causes great difficulty and confusion. Look into all angles, don't assume its only one angle. This can also cause chasvesholom parental distress and that can cause the child with anorexia to be even more confused, worried, distressed, etc. We need to have more resources for this.....more options to consider, more information
(7/30/2014 2:26:54 PM)
The problem
...maybe this wouldn't happen if seminaries would serve normal food,and have food availability.I gained over 20 pounds in seminary(which took 7 years to lose)...forever stuffing my face- worrying that the next meal might not be normal food- which happened more than naught
(7/30/2014 2:29:41 PM)
to #46
Um, you do realize that not everyone lives in Crown Heights? What should parents on shlichus do?
(7/30/2014 2:45:24 PM)
to #36
I guess in your house you don't say Aishes Chayil on Friday night? "Sheker ha chein vehevel ha yoifi, isha yiras Hashem hi sishalol."
(7/30/2014 4:01:37 PM)
I am so grateful to see this topic in public. Any addiction or compulsive behavior is serious and needs to be dealt with. Too many people try to hide eating disorders, drug addiction and alcoholism and in turn it leads to problematic marriages.
(7/30/2014 4:47:57 PM)
Dear Parent:
did you send your daughters to the same seminary?
(7/30/2014 5:08:31 PM)
It's not just an ED
Not one child/young person (that's boys & girls) that I've looked after has ever had an isolated eating disorder. They co-exist with any of multiple other mental health problems.

Forgive me for using the forbidden words 'mental health', for it's still a topic that many find uncomfortable. Ironic as 1/4 people have a MH problem, with numbers on the rise, soon to be 1/3.

Any new signs of withdrawal, low mood, self-harm, irregular eating patterns, irregular mood swings, low energy, anxiety, restlessness etc should all be addressed sooner rather than later.

MH problems do not have a quick fix, and there is no one to blame - It's part of being human. Just as some people are more prone to cardiac problems, hypertension, asthma - others are more prone to developing MH problems.

We all have mental health, as we have physical health and MH health can either be healthy or at times due to experiences, exposure, genetics it can become unhealthy.

Nothing to be ashamed about - and the whole 'you won't get a shidduch thing' is just ridiculous. Who wants a spouse that has unresolved issues from possibly way back when they were 13 anyway?
(7/30/2014 5:10:31 PM)
This leaves me uneasy....
I'm missing the part in between where the parents and the school do not connect. Since there was Skype going on, how did the parents not see at least a physical change in their daughters? And since the 1st daughter had this illness, how did the 2nd daughter get to the same point? Wouldn't the parents have notified the school of their concerns and keep some kind of ongoing communication with the school? I don't know.....something is lacking here....two adult vantage points , seemingly oblivious to what is in front of them concerning the young people they are taking care of.....something is so very wrong here. I'm not placing blame, I'm just saying that we have to take a look at what we do in our daily lives and maybe adjust some of our thinking when it comes to awareness of parenting and school environments. This situation is not acceptable.
(7/30/2014 5:54:00 PM)
after years
I worked for years as prof.on a unit for those with eating disorders and no,it's not about food or calories but a lot to do with family dynamics and having control over their lives.It is very complex.The younger girls seemed to have a better prognosis.1/3 did well,1/3 chronic and another 1/3 ended up nebech near death.The stats were that.We watched the trends etc.It seemed that families that had very high expectations of their kids and the girls felt it,they were always trying to please in order to be loved.There wasn't always the unconditional love or they didn't feel it.Anyway there is so much more to this so stop with the models and the boys etc.This is way more complicated.We had many family meetings-i worked with several psychiatrists.It's not about the goyishe world-it's about their inner world full of turmoil.It's not about the sem.Educate yourselves and you will learn a lot more.
(7/30/2014 9:18:50 PM)
Eating disorders and PTSD
There is a strong corralation between post traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders. I am unfortunately learning a lot about PTSD because of the childhood abuse my husband went through sadly. Definitely agree with all of the others that point to a much deeper rooted problem going on.
(7/30/2014 9:54:47 PM)
Can the professionals who commented here identify themselves?
If you are a mental health professional who commented on this story, why not ID yourselves? Then people who who want to avail themselves of resources can start with you? Surely you can stand up to close-minded criticism if you have worked in the field of addictions, compulsions, or eating disorders.
(7/30/2014 10:09:57 PM)
Blame game...
High school tests overload and poor Shalom Bayit perfect 'recipe' for ED.
(7/30/2014 11:36:30 PM)
Can I
commend these parents for making their shlichus the task of taking care of their daughter themselves and not putting her into an institution! I cant imagine what a difficult job it must have been and now you have to do the same for a second daughter, but know that the love and care you have will go a long way! yashar koach! My heart goes out to parents who have to send their children away at such a young age to go to school.... I dont know the answer but for some children maybe it is very very difficult... I wish your children full recovery and the many happy years in good health!
(7/31/2014 3:44:01 AM)
To #53
An "Isha Yiras Hashem" (as well as an "Ish Yiray Hashem") wouldn't overeat (or undereat) and would stay in shape.

But since you are so pious that all you care about is Yiras Shomayim, how about setting up arranged marriages for your kids where they don't get to see their fiances until they are officially engaged? All that matters is Yiras Shomayim, right?
(7/31/2014 7:35:25 AM)
a yeshiva bochur
In yeshiva there isnt so much of an eating issue as much as a lack of a nutritious diet. Bochrim as a klal don't starve themselves but do crazy diets and workout constantly. Its not just girls that are in this mantra - guys are super sensitive about their weight and physic. In the yeshiva setting once a bochur is in zal they look after themselves. I've been away at yeshiva since 14 and by the time your in zeal you r expected to know "how to tie your own shoe laces "
As young adults we generally know how to handle situations. When it comes to shidduchim bochrim aren't much different to girls.
We want help and we learn from role models.
(7/31/2014 9:11:45 AM)
I give up!!!
Years of camps and starving kids and fights with councellors ( my kids are normal kids but 17 yr old kids should not be their parents for 2 months!) and bad influences ... Not to mention thousands of dollars , my husband and I said afew yrs ago no more!! No sending kids away.... My teens have been working here in CH over the summer, no going away for yeshiva , local seminary and my family life couldn't be better!! The kids put up a fight because they wanted to do what everyone else were doing but we put our foot down and now they can't thank us enough! They are so happy, relaxed , close to us and each other , we spend quality time together as a family , they have time for their hobbies( which we now can afford as we are not paying out thousands .. Financial strain off us ) and I urge ppl to do the same! We just got out of the rat race and couldn't be happier! The word is too scary today to send the kids out their on the own! Call me over protective but I rather be called that then have to deal with the consiquences of cv something going horribly wrong, besides I'm their mother so that is my job!
(7/31/2014 9:42:42 AM)
The reason
The reason I do not identify myself as a prof.who worked years on an ED unit is due to the trolling that goes on and I dont want my children to be the ones who get "tagged".First of all I am a licensed prof.and it is not about me-but my expertise.If you are doubtful research what I wrote.No one was put away in an institution!The girls who often came looked like cc victims of 70 lbs.They need to be hospitalized for several weeks and no,a parent is NOT able to just "nurse"them back to health because sometimes the parents are the issue.Can you understand that without getting defensive.No one is blaming but that's how it was.Some came in for a month or two just to sort out what happened to escalate to this compulsion.Many were the "perfect"girls who "couldn't swallow"anymore of this image.They had inner rage and it came out this way.Would you like to hear more?I worked 10 yrs on the unit so I think I can say more than just talk about counselors and sems and healthy food.Research yourself!You will discover it goes way beyond the simple catch-all explanations.
(7/31/2014 8:19:26 PM)
#66 - it IS about you
If you are a treatment professional who can help people afflicted with ED, or any mental health disorder, you are in a role to potentially help those who would not look in the phone book for help.
(7/31/2014 9:37:53 PM)
or someones'.....thoughts and activities, priorities and awareness, clarity and sense of reality....were on such a back burner, that 2 young lives were in jeopardy. I feel for them. I hope they get the help they need to be rid of this awful illness. I hope the adults involved on both sides get themselves to a better understanding of how and why this occurred. Assumedly both sides have learned, and going forward will forgive themselves and come to know how to do things from now on.
(7/31/2014 10:29:25 PM)
60 and 67
What's with the insistence that they give a name?
Why does it make a difference?
You don't like people speaking the truth, so you try to discredit them by demanding a name so you can bully them and their families?!
If anyone needs help, they will faster Google a professional, or already know of some, or at least someone to ask for a number of a professional, than contacting a name they got from a COL comment.
Asking for help takes courage, and that's what's holding them back, not the fact that someone stayed anonymous in a comment.
Or maybe it was fear of being bullied, which you seem to be good at.
(8/1/2014 12:17:52 PM)
It seems to me that both the school and the parents might not have been on top of things. I think that if they had taken a moment to step out of the habitual day-to-day thinking/activities, they might have been able to add a larger scope in their responsibilities. We ask ourselves how the adults at the school did not see what was right in front of them. We posit the answer to be that they were closed off from the concept of the "whole child" in their midst. Or we may posit that they saw, but did not forward observations for fear of losing income generated from the girls's attendance. We ask ourselves how it came to be that the parents did not notice a change on Skype, and we may posit that they were unobservant or in denial. Or we may wonder whether Skype was actually used, as the illness progressed, meaning that the girls avoided that medium intentionally. We wonder how it is that the second daughter was not watched, in light of her sister's illness. I am in sync with the person who felt uneasy due to the questions remaining unanswered. This is a troubling situation in more than one obvious way.
(8/1/2014 1:41:01 PM)
to 69
Thank you for your support- i really do not feel like defending my position of anonymity.I tried to illustrate as best i could the many aspects of a huge problem-psych,emotional,physical,social etc etc.I tried to give a little insight and how family dynamics play a big role whether we accept it or not...that's all i tried to do.I do not know who in NY is an expert.I live far from ny,
(8/1/2014 7:33:00 PM)
Counseling needs to start before sem
This is an issue that needs to be addressed in
High school. Girls need to learn about the harmful effects of an eating disorder and what a healthy lifestyle really is (not what size it is) at an early stage so that by the time they are in seminary this will not be as common. Schools need to wake up and realize this generation (being in it myself) is influenced by photoshopped magazines and the idea that you can only be pretty if you are a size 0-4.
Goodluck to the writer and all others faced with this issue.
Galus needs to end now!
(8/2/2014 7:57:26 PM)
By the way...
Not all EDs are the parents' fault. I know at least one girl who was born with a serious mental illness which included anorexia.
(8/3/2014 7:42:00 PM)
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