Being a student at CUA hasn’t always been easy but I am grateful for what I have learned and experienced. Freshman year I did not really know who I was. I felt like everyone was better. I’m not sure at what exactly but at the time that didn’t matter. It was enough to make me feel like I always needed to change. I started studying all the time. I was involved in a lot on campus. I was always making new friends. But the feeling was still there. I didn’t know what else to do so I decided that it was my weight that was the problem. I tried not eating but people would call me out and ask questions. So I started throwing up.
No one knew what I was doing. No one noticed that I was drinking powerade and eating ice chips or that I had a toothbrush and toothpaste in my bag. No one picked up on the fact that I would go to the bathroom every time I ate. I didn’t even notice that it soon became something that I would just do without thinking. For 20 days I threw up after every meal. Day one I felt fine. No one noticed me slip away after eating. Day two, I only threw up twice so I was proud of myself. Day seven, I had a sore throat and felt really tired. Day eleven, I was throwing up water because it was all I had had that day. Day fourteen, my best friend and I got in a fight because he knew what I was doing. Day seventeen, I felt like I wasn’t in my own body. I missed Patrick because he wouldn’t talk to me. Day twenty, I collapsed by the stairs and Patrick barely caught me as he was walking by. That was the day that I broke down and asked for help. I went to my brother who talked to my parents. My mom called me and asked me why I was doing it and I couldn’t find the words to explain. She couldn’t accept the fact that I was doing this and so she told me to just stop. At first, I was angry but then Father Jude helped me understand that I was her baby and this was something she could not control which probably scared her. So I learned to rely on who was around me. I went to the counseling center and started making goals for myself. The first goal was to not throw up my breakfast. Then it was my breakfast and lunch. Then I added dinner. I slowly started to recover. My best friend helped me come up with a mantra for when I had to go to the bathroom after I ate. It was “Get In. Get Out. Get Control.” I would say it to myself every time I felt like regressing and throwing up. I definitely have slipped up and gone back to old habits but I have learned not to punish myself or get mad about it.
Fast forward to senior year of college. I suddenly became stressed all the time and put a lot of pressure on myself to figure out the rest of my life in under a year. I felt really out of control with everything, and I didn’t know what to do to fix it. My way of coping was by cutting myself. I don’t know how it exactly started or why I did it, but it became a habit. I thought that my fear of blood with deter me from doing it but it was the opposite effect. I began carrying Band-Aids and other first aid supplies along with my blades. Again, no one knew what was happening. I thought that this would give me an outlet and that things would get better. But it didn’t, it only made things worse. One day in November, I decided that I needed to stop but I couldn’t get myself to throw out my razors. So I reached out to a friend and simply asked if he would be able to get rid of them. My friend said yes and didn’t ask any questions. I started going to therapy again and journaling. I’ve set rules for myself and came up with a plan if I ever felt the urge. I opened up to a few of my friends and family. It wasn’t easy but it helped me find the strength that I needed.
I used to think that I didn’t stand out in the world but I have learned that that is not the case. That is why I picked the photo I did for the cover. Because it shows that no matter what I am doing, I stand out and I have made a mark on the world. Recovering from an eating disorder and self-harm helped me find my strength, vulnerability, and faith. I started giving myself more credit. I have learned how to open up when the time calls for it. I started relying on my faith a lot more instead of blaming it for my hardships. College has not been easy. It has pushed me to my breaking point and has caused me a lot of pain. But it hasn’t broken me. It has given me some of the best relationships that I will ever have and it has given me the tools to never give up. I have gone a year without making myself sick. I have gone three months without self-harming. I don’t know where life will take me or what those numbers will be in a year but I have learned how to be okay with that and accepting that it is okay to not be okay.