Local teens speak candidly about their experiences, treatment and recovery

| 26 Sep 2012 | 11:28

By Scott Baker

“I would walk into a room and compare the size of my legs to everyone else’s. If mine weren’t the smallest, I felt that I had to lose more weight.” This statement, made by Emily Sugrue, a junior at Roxbury High School, is a trademark sign of an eating disorder.
Emily realized when she was in 8th grade that she was bulimic. In addition to the physical signs, including binging and purging, Emily recalls feeling “mental symptoms,” as well—mainly, “feeling not good enough.”
The constant physical comparisons led Emily to weigh herself every day.
Once her 5’ 1” frame hit 100 pounds at age 15, Emily turned to her parents for help. Her parents brought her to Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ right away and she was transferred to the eating disorders unit at Princeton University Medical Center. It was here that Emily’s road to recovery, which she is still traveling, began.

Tori Black, a classmate of Emily’s at Roxbury High School, struggles similarly with anorexia. While Tori doesn’t know exactly when her battle with anorexia began, she says that “everything started when [she] was 9 or 10 years old.” Tori’s anorexia eventually became so all-consuming, she developed severe depression and “was having suicidal thoughts and self-harm problems.” Her mother realized that she wasn’t eating and suggested she seek help. After several weeks of denial, Tori went to her doctor, who admitted her to inpatient services at Somerset Medical Center. While “it’s still a struggle everyday” for Tori, she is happy to have a “different mindset now” and on her road to recovery.

Speaking Out
Both girls, who always knew each other but ended up closer friends after fighting such similar battles, are now using their voices to help peers who are struggling through the same sort of crises. Emily says that she is happy to start speaking publicly about her experience to “hopefully inspire others who might not be as comfortable about opening up about it.” Likewise, Tori says that “she is past nervousness and finally able to help.” Both girls will be speaking at the upcoming Girls World Expo at Sussex County Technical School on September 30th.

Not Only Girls
While these girls’ stories will hit home with many young women in the area, it is important to realize that boys also suffer from eating disorders. According to the American Journal of Psychology, 1 million American men suffer from an eating disorder. A Harvard research study also found out that one-quarter of all anorexics and bulimics are men.
In addition to these issues, men are also more prone to suffer from muscle dysmorphia, sometimes called ‘bigorexia,’ where they take steroids and artificial hormones in order to add dangerous amounts of muscle to their bodies.

Getting Help
High Point Regional High School guidance professional Lisa Frisbie says that there are several great local options for treatment of eating disorders:
Newton Medical Center’s behavioral health department
(973) 383-1533
St. Clare’s behavioral health center in Boonton (973) 316-1846
Overlook Medical Center


Juniors Emily Sugrue and Victoria Black will be telling their stories at Girls World Expo Sunday September 30 at Sussex Technical School.