Thursday, March 27, 2008

"Everyone" Knows

N told me last night that "everyone" in his class knows about his anorexia. Apparently at lunch yesterday, one of N's friends started talking about suspecting that his sister had anorexia. N responded by saying that he didn't think she had anorexia (given the few facts that C shared). At that point, and obviously I'm missing parts of the story, C stood up and started shouting that N had anorexia. Maybe it was a joke, but N responded so vehemently that the friend immediately knew it was true.

The hardest part of this exchange, for me to hear, was the comment made by C that anorexia is a "life choice." I know this isn't true. N knows this isn't true. But way too many people think it is true. N tried to convince C that anorexia is a brain disorder, but C was insistent because that is what his mom told him. I told N that I could go talk to his class about anorexia -- "No, they'll think I'm weird." I told him some things that he could tell C. I also sent him armed with a Newsweek article (not exactly scientific, but a little more accessible). I'm not sure what else I can do. I'd like to have a loud voice that everyone could hear while I explain what anorexia is and what it isn't. I'm not sure anyone is listening.


Erica said...

I am so sorry that this happened. can you talk with the mom involved? Often when people are confronted by real families undergoing a traumatic time it personalizes the situation and allows them to learn...just a thought.

Wendy said...


I think you're exactly right. I'm not sure if C's mom looked things up, but she might have with different eyes, knowing the C's friend was suffering. I told N that I would talk to C's mom if he wanted. He definitely didn't want me to say anything. I think he feels so conspicuous already.

anne said...

maybe having a school guidance counselor intervene is a possibility? Or a school nurse? Could it be done as part of a health or science unit and just matter of factly? Here are illnesses that are not choices? Somehow woven into the curriculum for discussion in as natural a way as possible without making your son feel singled out but giving the students facts at the same time? I know when my daughter was ill, I was devastated when her older sister came home from a high school psych class to announced that 'eating disorders always indicated a problem in the family' according to her teacher. That's ALL I didn't need to hear as I struggled through each day, each hour, each meal!

Wendy said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Anne. A counselor/nurse might be able to discuss these issues without it being super personal.