Tuesday January 26, 2016

Episode 10: Hunger game

(Aiken Lao)

Listen to Full Episode 32:01


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Body image can be a focal point for so many students starting out in university. But too often it can become an obsession. And in Meredith Healey's case, it turned into a hunger game that threatened her life.

It all started out as an innocent attempt at avoiding the Freshman 15. You know, those inevitable 15 pounds you gain during first year of university or college, thanks to bad eating habits and excessive drinking. In Meredith's case, this notion quickly sparked an infatuation with weight-loss, fueled by fashion magazines. Without even realizing it she became anorexic.

When Meredith set foot on campus, she was frail and weak. Her eating disorder, paired with the mounting pressure of maintaining a B+ average to stay in her program, led her down a dangerous path into extreme anxiety.

Hear her story on this episode of Campus.

Brian Goldman

Dr. Brian Goldman practices in the Schwartz Reisman Emergency Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

There's one part of Meredith's story that really stands out for us. While she was gripped by her first panic attack, she went to the hospital thinking she was having a heart attack. An ER doctor helped by asking her to breathe into a paper bag. When Meredith eventually calmed down, the doctor simply sent her home. 

At this point, Meredith was 100 pounds. She was skinny and frail, yet the ER doctor didn't pick up on any physical signs pointing to a mental illness. 

But Meredith certainly isn't alone. In fact, anorexia carries the highest mortality rate of any mental illness out there. So where is the disconnect when it comes to recognition by healthcare professionals?

For more insight we asked Dr. Brian Goldman, an ER doctor and host of CBC Radio's White Coat, Black Art, to join us for a chat. Hear this important conversation about why eating disorders are being forgotten in the medical world.