A communal yoga class was held at Calgary’s Southcentre Mall on Sunday to raise awareness and support for people struggling with eating disorders.
The event was put on in partnership with Calgary charity Silver Linings Foundation in support of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which runs from Feb. 1 to 7.
According to the charity, eating disorders impact more than a million Canadians, 55,000 of whom are Albertans.
“They are the most deadly of all mental illnesses — more deadly than depression,” said Kristin Pletch, Silver Linings Foundation fund development and communications manager.
“For whatever reason, whether it’s continued shame or stigma, they seem to be not on the radar to the degree that other mental illnesses are.”
Seventeen-year-old Sydney Kranjcevic has struggled with anorexia since the age of 13.
“I was so sick that my heart was failing,” Kranjcevic said.
The teen lost 25 pounds in one month, and at one point, weighed only 89 pounds before she was able to get an eating disorder diagnosis.
“If I waited even another couple of days, I’d probably be dead today,” she said.
Pletch said this underscores the need to raise awareness for what the charity calls the “under-the-radar epidemic” of eating disorders and to develop programs and services so people can get treatment earlier.
“You can’t simply look at someone and tell they have an eating disorder,” Pletch said.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can find resources available here.