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Overcoming an Eating Disorder: A Laser’s Journey to Health

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Lasell chapter.

Eating disorders affect over 24 million people in the U.S alone. These millions of people use food as a weapon of mass destruction, on themselves. Whether they are withholding it or using it excessively, this illness will affect a person’s physical health as much as their mental health. There are a few different types of eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa which is a disorder in which the person limits their food intake to lose weight. Sound like just a diet? Not quite.

Lasell student, Sarah*, is an example of the reality of an eating disorder. Sarah was always active, playing basketball, softball, volleyball, and karate throughout childhood and high school. Her active lifestyle continued in college, which led to a necessary shoulder surgery. The surgery left her couch-ridden, and Sarah felt she was gaining weight. She didn’t like what she saw so she began skipping meals, mostly lunch. Sarah knew she would be happier if she was back to her skinny self.

         Sarah before her eating disorder 

As the school year came around, Sarah’s weight hadn’t changed much. Pre-surgery she weighed about 113 pounds, and before school she was down to 110. As she was cleared for physical activity, Sarah resumed working out at the gym regularly, but didn’t eat any more than she did when she was home. “I went to breakfast and dinner with friends, but I never really ate lunch.” In addition to that, Sarah bought a scale and ritually weighed herself every morning before class. The pounds were falling off.

“You’ve lost so much weight, good for you!” said a classmate one night out. Although it sounds positive, a comment like this can be detrimental to a person’s self-esteem. “It made me feel like I was fat before, and my body wasn’t good enough.” She continued her bad habits of working out too much, not eating enough, and being generally dissatisfied with herself and her appearance.

During her eating disorder

About a month later, Sarah was looking through pictures of herself and it hit her just how skinny she had gotten. “It was a scary realization. I realized I was too skinny, I wasn’t fit.” At her lowest, Sarah was 93 pounds. As with many other eating disorder sufferers, Sarah was underweight, too underweight to get her period. She reached out to her friends for help.

“My friends made sure I ate, and I stopped working out for about a month. But even as I gained weight I obsessively checked the scale.” Sarah also confided in her therapist at home, to figure out why the obsessive behavior began.

For so long Sarah saw gaining any weight as a bad thing. But she knew she needed to or her health, and life would be at risk. A few weeks passed, and Sarah was up to weighing 100 pounds. “It felt like a milestone.” She continued to persevere.

A recent photo of Sarah back to a healthy weight

With the help of her friends, her therapist, and most importantly herself, Sarah has gotten back to a healthy weight. She has eased back into working out, and makes sure to eat at least 500 calories more than she is burning. Sarah has gotten her weight up to 115 pounds, a healthy weight for her height. But the disease is still present. “I am still unhappy with my body, but I am trying to work towards being fit and healthy rather than being skinny.” She mentions that having a flat stomach is a major goal, as it is with many other women.

“You are not alone, it’s not easy to do it by yourself. Get help from the people close to you. And it is okay to relapse.” Sarah says to anyone currently suffering. “Being skinny doesn’t mean you’re healthy.” Sarah is learning to love her body and treat it well with a plentiful diet and exercise.

Sarah is just one example of a person that has suffered from an eating disorder, but these disorders do not discriminate. People of all ages, sexes, and backgrounds can suffer from them. A person does not have to be “skinny” or underweight to have one. And just because someone is skinny doesn’t mean they have one. Having an eating disorder is never a choice. It is a mental illness that takes over a person’s life and can ultimately end it.

If you or someone you know is battling an eating disorder, there is help. Here on campus, Case House is open Monday through Friday, 8:30-4:30. The National Eating Disorder Awareness organization has a hotline 1-800-931-2237, or help can be reached online at nationaleatingdisorders.org.

*Names have been changed

All photos provided by Celebrity

Taylor is a senior at Lasell majoring in Communications with a concentration in Journalism and a minor in sociology. She has happily been a member of Her Campus Lasell for the past two years. This will be her second year as Campus Correspondent. She is also involved with Active Minds on campus. Taylor runs a camp during the summer, and in her free time likes to bake cookies, get swoll at the gym, eat fancy food and travel through Europe.