National Eating Disorder Awareness Week kicks off Monday

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JOPLIN, Mo. — It’s an illness that can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or race.

This week is recognized as National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

I spoke to a young woman who suffered from this disorder, but it hasn’t stopped her from living a successful life.

February 24th kicks off National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

Eating disorders have the second highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

Dr. Jenny Copeland, Psychologist, Ozark Center, said, “The most prevalent eating disorder is binge eating disorder, that’s the most common for both men and women.”

Others include Anorexia Nervosa and Bulima.

However being able to identify symptoms isn’t always easy.

Michaela Ozier, Eating Disorder Survivor, said, “I can remember back even as early as grade school being worried about monitoring my snacks and doing exercises before going to the pool.”

Michaela Ozier started to seek treatment when those intrusive thoughts were affecting her day-to-day life.

But acknowledging that you need help is the first step.

“It is a really difficult part of recovery. And once you get through that, the rest becomes so much easier,” said Copeland.

While the journey of her progress wasn’t always steady or linear, making that step to get treatment saved her life.

“Go to treatment, like seek out help it does get better, you don’t have to deal with that every day. Like you deserve so much more than that,” said Ozier.

Ozier adds being faced with this obstacle influenced her to seek a career in mental health.

She recently graduated from Pittsburg State with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, and now she’s in a graduate program for Clinical Psychology.

Her goal is to work as a Psychologist in eating disorder recovery.

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