Elisabeth: An Anorexia Survivor’s Story

Elisabeth Beauchamp is a junior at UNC-Chapel Hill School of Media and Journalism. She is among the most talented and kind hearted individual one can encounter. She has a passion for theater and finds utmost joy in caring for animals, especially puppies. At 15 years old, Elisabeth was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa, obsessively counting her caloric intake and being extremely cautious of her food consumption.

The bulk of her behavior had a lot to do with the content that the media perceives to be idealistic based on the images that they publicize. “We’re constantly told what we’re supposed to look like, and we feel it’s our purpose that we’re supposed to lose weight. That’s not our purpose as humans,” said Elisabeth.

Even while battling a disorder that affects her body image, she managed to find a sense of beauty through theater, where she could escape her personal challenges and immerse into the life of characters. It also served as a major stepping stone in helping Elisabeth to realize that her behavior was detrimental.

In her sophomore year of high school, she was in a musical called “Children of Eden,” where she played the Snake. The character sings about the idea of wanting to pursue excellence and perfection, and it was in that moment that it occurred to her, that she was trying to achieve the impossible.

“I was trying to do for myself what the snake was trying to tell people to do and that’s when I realized that something was wrong, and I needed to do something about it.”

While Elisabeth had come to understand her behavior, it was not enough to push her to seek help.

Her senior year of high school had approached, and despite battling her condition, her dreams of being admitted to UNC had come true. However, it nearly missed her, as her mother threatened that she would have to go to school locally, if she wouldn’t seek the help that she needed. It was then that she decided that Anorexia was no longer going to control her, so she went out and actively sought help.

Elisabeth is now very much healthy and continues to bring life and energy to the stages. She has come a long way, and despite being in a better place, she struggles from time to time, but in those moments, she reminds herself of her true beauty, which lays from within.

 She encourages others who struggle with similar insecurities to keep fighting and to find relief in the beauty that they once saw in themselves.

“Look at yourself as the innocent little child that you once were. Because you’re still that same person today. You’re still valid and important and beautiful. You don’t need to let society crush that out of you,” said Elisabeth.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are serious conditions that involve persistent eating behaviors that negatively impact one’s health, emotions and ability to function. It has the highest mortality rate among any other mental illness and is commonly found in both women and men. The mortality rate associated with this condition is 12 times higher than the rate of all causes of death for females 15-24 years old. In a study conducted by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, it was found that 20% of people suffering from Anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their disorder, including suicide and heart problems. Specifically analyzed in this project, is Anorexia Nervosa, but there are many other forms of eating disorders, such as Bulimia Nervosa, Purging Disorder, Pica, Binge Eating Disorder and Orthorexia.

Bulimia Nervosa: A serious, life-threatening eating disorder characterized by a cycle of bingeing and behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting to undo or compensate for the effects of binge eating.

Purging Eating Disorder: After eating, an individual will purge themselves either by excessively vomiting or using laxatives

Pica:  An eating Disorder that involves eating items that are not typically thought of as food and that do not contain nutrition, such as hair, dirt and paint chips

Binge Eating Disorder: Eating large amounts of food in a short period of time, while maintaining poor self-image

Orthorexia: Becoming so fixated on healthy eating, that one damages their own well-being.

While there are many kinds of eating disorders, there are no identified causes for them. However, studies have shown that some possible causes could be personality, genetics, environment, biochemistry and other psychological and emotional health.

For more information on symptoms, potential causes, stats and how to receive treatment click here.