The Ballwin-Ellisville Patch wrote a beatiful article about Castlewood, our clients, and the fight against Eating Disorder Stereotypes. Please check out the article or read below!
The women at Castlewood Treatment Center are my friends.
Sure, the first time I met them was last month. But they are just the kind of women who I think most anyone would want to surround themselves with: Intelligent, pretty, articulate and charming.
They won’t, however, be meeting me at Starbucks later for girl talk or a quick latte and a movie. Instead, they’ll remain at Castlewood’s residential facilities, battling with a difficult combination of genetics, personal trauma and other factors that fueled their eating disorders.
Late February marked National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and I couldn’t help but think TV stereotypes weren’t telling the whole story. Thankfully, I was right.
For those with the means for treatment there, the Castlewood center is a gorgeous facility located near its Ballwin namesake, Castlewood State Park. Just like many women – and men – affected nationwide by eating disorders, many of the women there cunningly hid their sickness from family and friends until it took severe physical tolls and ruined other life passions.
A lot has changed in what is known about eating disorders since Castlewood first opened over 10 years ago, however, said Theresa Chestnut, the primary therapist there. In fact, client Mckenna Moscinski at age 19 is a fine example of how untrue and dated certain stereotypes are (Cruel Intentions, anyone?) – stereotypes about privilege or pretension that make it harder for families and friends to recognize the seriousness of eating disorders.
Moscinski is classically pretty and extremely articulate. She was a track athlete through high school and studies speech and language pathology. Her passion is children, she said, especially those with special needs.
“I love working with kids,” Moscinski said. “That is totally why God put me on Earth – to work with kids.”
Her dedication to school is enviable. In fact, a growing apathy toward her school work was one of the signs that Moscinsk’s health was waning prior to her second formal recovery effort; there is no set length of stays at Castlewood, and no one leaves “cold-turkey.” A step-down program helps hone trauma management strategies that clients learn to use as they readjust once they check out.
Regardless of the stage of their treatment, Moscinski and most patients agreed that the public fails to realize their problem rarely is tied directly to food or workout habits.
In addition to those with family histories of the condition, Chestnut said factors such as high-anxiety, enhanced sensitivity or fear of failure all can contribute to the development of eating disorders. Childhood trauma, too, is often a “final ingredient” that can trigger the disorders, which are then used as a sort of coping mechanism to help regain control.
“We’re getting angry at the food, getting angry at ourselves, because it is so hard to get angry with the people in our lives,” Moscinski said.
Research also shows that eating disorders are not just a “rich white girl” disease, reflecting their presence among both minority women as well men. LoveMyBody.org reports that ten percent of those with eating disorders are men, and that minority women are just as likely as Caucasian women to be at risk.
With risk being reasonably wide-spread, one can’t help but wonder how to treat a loved one who seems vulnerable. One Castlewood patient suggested sending a message that’s difficult to argue with:
“Love me, support me, and go on with your life.”
“You don’t have to say anything,” Moscinski said. “You can just actively listen and hear that person. And truly hear that person.”