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I Have An Eating Disorder

TW: Eating disorder

When I was a child, I knew there was something strange about my eating habits. In elementary school, I would come home from class and when no one was home, I would eat and eat and eat until my stomach hardened and bulged and I felt like I was going to be sick. I would hate myself, tell myself that was the last time I’d eat that much, and then do the same thing the next day. My thoughts constantly centered on food and the way my body looked when I would stare in the mirror. This continued for years and years until I started introducing laxatives into my diet to help lose weight. At one point in time, I was restricting my calorie intake and working out feverishly. I later learned that I was suffering from bulimia, binge eating disorder and anorexia for a majority of my life.

An eating disorder can be characterized by irregular eating habits and an intense obsession and concern over body weight and body image. Eating disorders encompass one’s life and often stem from a deeper emotional void or need. They are most often treated through therapy, but can also be treated through out-patient treatment and medication. Some statistics regarding eating disorders and college students include:

When eating disorders are detected and treated earlier complete recovery becomes much more attainable. However, eating disorders are often not detected for two main reasons. First, people with eating disorders frequently will not admit to having an eating disorder until they’ve had it for a prolonged period of time. Sometimes, it takes a while for self-admittance or for others such as friends and family to notice and acknowledge it. Secondly, eating disorders do not always appear where one would “expect it.” Society holds an image of whom/what an eating disorder looks like that is not always accurate. Eating disorders in males is on the rise and it can manifest in people of all ages. They are also not always easily detectable on the outside.

My eating disorder was hard to detect on the outside. I was always complimented for my healthy eating and exercise habits because all everyone saw me eat was fruits and vegetables. But, when no one was looking, I was bingeing and eating thousands of calories in such a short span of time; I called this a “blackout,” where I had no control over my actions. It wasn’t until my excessive weight gain was pointed out at my annual check-up that my mother started to realize that there was a deeper issue at hand. I went to therapy, but it did not prove to be effective long term. I explored out-patient treatment, but due to health insurance and school/work, I never wanted to go down that road. I am currently considering medication for my binge eating disorder (the strongest and most prominent of my eating disorders) to see if that will aid in my recovery.

While I still suffer from binges, they are not nearly as frequent as they used to be. Every small milestone should be treated as a success in the journey to recovery.

The journey will be rough and certainly far from perfect, but recovery is possible.

If I could offer three pieces of advice to any college student suffering from an eating disorder it would be to be proud of yourself for every small goal accomplished, find the method of recovery that best suits you because no two people will go through the same journey and to never give up. Don’t be afraid to talk to your friends, research NEDA (a nonprofit organization that aims to help those affected by eating disorders), take on relaxing hobbies such as yoga and meditation, and know that it will always get better.

I am currently a senior at Muhlenberg college with a Dance and Business double major. College has helped shaped my opinions, views and how I look at the world. HerCampus has given me the platform to express these opinions in a safe and open manner. I'm super excited to share my thoughts and I hope you enjoy reading them as well!
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