Paterson’s budget proposal shuns anorexics

It has never been in my nature to question authority. I always believed that state governments and the national government passed laws, raised taxes and made budget cuts for the benefit of their respective states and the nation as a whole.

This was true until I received an e-mail saying that the new budget proposal for New York state would include the complete elimination of funding for the New York State Comprehensive Care Centers for Eating Disorders (CCCED).

The CCCED is responsible for establishing a new free-standing partial hospital program, The Healing Connection (opened in January), and the establishment of the first and only adolescent eating disorders residential program in New York at Harmony Place in St. Joseph’s Villa. However, Gov. David Paterson does not believe that eating disorders are a major issue in New York, as he is willing to make a 100 percent cut in CCCED funding. The lack of funding from the state government could force patients to travel to other states in hopes of finding treatment.

There is no rationale behind Paterson’s decision to cut CCCED funding. I would tell Paterson to open his eyes and think about the effect that his new budget would have on those suffering from an eating disorder, but Paterson sees the same thing whether his eyes are open or closed: nothing. Eating disorders affect 28 million people in the U.S., 10-15 percent being male. Detection is the key to stopping an eating disorder before it begins sucking the life out of the unfortunate individual. According to The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness, 11 percent of high school students have been diagnosed with an eating disorder. Imagine if these high school students didn’t have a treatment facility that they could go to and had to try and overcome the disease on their own.

Unlike H1N1, where the effects are physical and there are vaccines, eating disorders affect both the mental and physical sides of the human body and there are no vaccines. While wanting to get better is the first step in recovery, no one can overcome the disease on their own; the disease is just too powerful.

Treatment centers are the only options for those that truly want to leave their eating disorders in the rearview mirror. These treatment centers are well-stocked with highly respected doctors, nurses and therapists that aim to heal you and give you coping techniques in case the stresses of life pull you back into the eating disorder habits.

For those recovering from an eating disorder, everybody has their good days where they feel healed, and everybody has their bad days where they feel like they may be slipping.

New York will become a more depressed state than it already is if CCCED becomes unfunded. Eighty-one percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of becoming fat, and 42 percent of first to third grade girls want to be thinner. When thoughts like these enter the human mind, they stick like glue and take control of the self-conscious mind.

Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents and 20 percent of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems. That stat may be alarming, but I can defiantly relate to it. My eating disorder became my only friend for many years, and my depression became so severe at one point that I thought that I would be better off dead. During this same time in my life, I sat and waited for my heart to give out from the strain I had put on it for so long.

Treatment centers cannot afford to lose state funding because eating disorders continue to be a big problem across New York. At least 500,000 individuals will die as a direct result of an eating disorder, and if treatment centers are forced to shut down operation, this number will only grow.

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