By Vanessa Thomas
Students with eating disorders are brushing away a helping hand.
Although a new eating disorder support group at Ryerson started an eight-week session for those with eating disorders at the school, only two women attended last Wednesday’s first session at Oakham House.
The group was scheduled to meet from 6 to 7:30 p.m., but only met for 15 minutes.
“We didn’t do a session at all because it wasn’t a group,” says the group facilitator Susan Main. “The group will be postponed until we can get a full group.”
Five women committed to attend the session, but two women changed their minds and one didn’t show up.
Main, a 1995 Ryerson social work graduate, also works for the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC). She plans to enrol women outside of Ryerson to create the group.
NEDIC claims 90 per cent of women in Canada have an eating disorder and nearly 10 per cent have anorexia and bulimia, the most common eating disorders.
Main facilitated an eating disorder support group at Ryerson with 10 women in 1995.
“The goal [of the group] is for women to feel more connected to women, more understood, to learn techniques to cope with eating disorders,” says Main.
Samantha Lamb, RyeSAC’s commissioner of Women’s Issues and a collective member of the Ryerson Women’s Centre, believes there is a demand for the group because the centre receives about five calls and drop-ins every month.
“It’s a courageous step to seek help and it may take people a few times. It’s like a battered woman trying to leave home,” says Lamb. “It’s nearly impossible to outreach on campus. People are poster blind.”
Lamb knows all about the need for support. She developed anorexia when she was 13 years old.
“It’s the power of the human mind. I honestly saw myself as a big person,” says Lamb. “IT’s a continuum of yo-yo dieting. I was about 30 pounds underweight.”
Lamb began her recovery at 15-years-old but still battles anorexia.
“I eat healthy now but it’s [anorexia] like alcoholism because it’s lifelong. I could forget to eat a meal and go back to that [anorexia]m,” says Lamb. “I still don’t have a full length mirror in my room.”