I’m a 22-year-old college junior. For almost my whole life, I have had issues with food and my body. I started dieting in the fifth grade, then gained, then dieted, then gained. I am now back to dieting. I have lost ** pounds and I weigh ***. I thought that once I got down to this weight, I would be happy. But I actually hate myself more now than I ever have. I cannot seem to stop eating, and I am scared of ruining all the progress I’ve made on this diet. Eating is my only comfort. I am extremely lonely and no one knows what I am going through. There is no one to tell. I’ve tried to talk to my friends, but none of them seem to care at all or have any time to help me. I’ve tried to talk to God, but He feels very distant, like I am talking to myself. I have tried to find counseling, but every time I try, I run into dead ends and closed doors, and I’ve come to the conclusion that God doesn’t want me to go to counseling, because why else would I be having this much trouble finding help? I am just scared of what is happening to me. I no longer really have a desire to go on living. Things are great in my life, yet I feel nothing. I am not even sure that I would care if all my dreams came true or something amazing happened. The world, life in general, feels very cold to me, and at the end of the day, I often feel dead inside. I will have whole weeks sometimes when I don’t feel this bad, but inevitably, I will crash again. This has been going on for almost a year now. What should I do? It seems like I’ve tried everything. I want to stop obsessing about my weight and I definitely want to stop hating myself and being depressed, but I feel like I no longer have the strength to fight myself or dig myself out of this pit. What should I do? Where do I go from here? Sorry this was so long. – Carol Ann
Dear Carol Ann,
First, if you still feel “dead” inside and that your strength is slipping go immediately to your family physician, college campus medical center, local emergency room or call 911. An emergency assessment for depression is absolutely necessary because of your feelings about not wanting to live. The feelings around dieting/weight/self acceptance can be worked on once the immediate depression is ruled out.
If you stop living there will be no “journey” and an experience of your self as recovering. Please take your feelings seriously and get medical attention because it is most likely they will also be able to assist with finding a counseling option. As a college junior you most likely have an Advisor or Department Head who can direct you to personnel that knows how to access services for students on campus.
Second, you describe a long-term dance with your feelings about your body and how you have worked to make it the problem and the answer for your feelings. I think you know, inside, that you are not at peace with food, with weight, or your self as you are created. I do not believe that God would keep you from counseling. I am not certain what the “stops” or “hurdles” were that kept you from finding a licensed professional in your area to tackle events around disordered eating and body image and depression. But you must persevere. Many women and young girls are able to work through their stories of self-hatred, body loathing, and depression to lead lives that are hope-filled and free of the lies and negativity associated with some disorders.
You wrote and specifically asked: “What should I do? Where do I go from here?” And I want you to read again the following:
1. Make an appointment today to be seen by a physician/psychiatrist either through student services or an emergency room or private provider to rule out major depression.
2. If you have healthcare insurance, contact that provider and let them know you need immediate services (psychiatry/counseling services).
3. If you are part of a church/worship community, contact them and ask if they have referrals for persons in crisis who need immediate assistance.
4. Contact the emergency helpline in your community or call 911 and ask for help.
The bottom line is you have a right to live, you are here for a reason, and do not let the hopelessness of what you are experiencing inside yourself dictate what you do today. Please let us know your local community and let us see if we can locate additional resources. You matter! Join all of us who are working toward a life free of disordered eating! You have friends here!
Leanne Spencer, LPC, MAMFC, CGE