I read through some of your discussion boards and I have a question that I was hoping you could answer. I am currently twenty years old and a sophomore in college. I have worried about my weight for as long as I can remember but in high school I hid this from my parents and did not really do anything about my worries. When I arrived at college the new freedom about my meal time and food intake allowed me to skip meals and restrict my eating. However, around this time I also started dating a guy. This guy turned out to be controlling and pretty domineering in my life. He would get angry enough to scare me if I didn’t eat and in fear I ate. I ended up gaining about ** pounds and weighing *** pounds, which is more than I have ever weighed in my life. We broke up this year in January after an incident scared me and caused my friends a lot of alarm. At this point I gradually began to change my eating habits again. It started with skipping meals or eating less. As the semester wore on I would go for days without eating. I started passing out in classes, the cafeteria, meetings and my dorm room. I now weigh *** pounds, which means I have lost ** pounds since January. I am so confused. Part of me would like to get better but another part of me is terrified to give up the control I have over my weight. My parents like to pretend bad things don’t happen so they leave me alone as I pick at meals and shake uncontrollably when I get too weak. Since I have come home from college I am alone with the eating disorder and without anyone to reach out to. I have seen a therapist since January for an anxiety disorder and he would like me to see a therapist specializing in eating disorders. However I am reluctant to do this. I should be able to handle this. I am a psychology major, I know the signs of an eating disorder, and I know what the Bible says about beauty and caring for your body but most of all I should be strong enough to deal with this. I am just so confused and at a loss of what to do and I feel like a complete failure as I struggle with the eating. I was hoping that maybe you could give me some advice about what steps I should take and if you think I should seek help from this eating disorder specialist.
My heart goes out to you. Not only are you physically weak, but you sound emotionally and mentally exhausted as well. Eating disorders can be so isolating, and it sounds like you are definitely in need of support. Even though you may have some knowledge from your psych classes, you can’t treat yourself, especially since eating disorders are so complex. Without a doubt, you need to see an eating disorder specialist, so if you haven’t already done so, please take this step immediately.
It’s also important to note that when you are not fueling your brain adequately, it is difficult to make good decisions. That is part of the reason for your confusion. Trust the advice of your therapist and the specialist he wants you to see. They will give you the individualized, specific steps you are seeking.
I’m going to give you a couple of resources to supplement the work you do with your therapist. First, check out the videos on our site in the “Practical Recovery Tips” section. Also, I’d recommend the book HEAL: Healthy Eating, Abundant Living.
There are some positive aspects to your letter that I want to highlight. First, you want to get better, which is a hugely important step. You also have some understanding of God’s views on beauty and caring for your body. Know that He understands your pain and wants to heal you. We have heard from countless women who are strong in their faith, yet share the same struggle. But victory and freedom are possible, so keep pressing on. Ask a close friend to pray for and support you during your recovery journey. You are young and have a bright future ahead of you!
Ann Capper, RD, CDN