How My Eating Disorder Prevented From Being a 'Typical' Student


I am a 28-year-old female returning to college. It is not an easy thing to do, but I’m ready. While making this decision I had to truly reflect on my past and evaluate what is the right path for me now.

I started college when I was 17 years old. I was a first time freshman. I wasn’t exactly prepared for this next step. I remember my first day on campus. I cried for hours because I didn’t know what I was doing there. I didn’t have a plan. I was just doing what I thought I was “supposed” to do.

I picked my major as computer science. I chose this because I am good with technology. I did not choose this because I liked it. Looking back I see I was confused and looking for solutions in the wrong way. I learned from it and I know true happiness is most important to me. But that’s not to say it wasn’t hard.

I started to struggle that first year. I used food as my clutch. It was the only thing I felt in control over. I had an unhealthy relationship with food for many years up to this so I simply restricted more. I lived on a specific number of calories a day. Days turned to weeks; weeks turned to months. My weight started to decline.

During the summer before I would become a sophomore, I finally acknowledged I had an eating disorder. I sought out help. It was not long after that I got an appointment with a doctor that specializes in eating disorders. I was scared, but I was ready to change.

I would soon learn changing would be more difficult than I had anticipated. My health continued to decline. One month later I was admitted to hospital for I was medically unstable and severely malnourished. It was terrifying, but it saved my life. My life would eventually revolve around treatment centers and hospital stays.

I tried to go back to many college many times. I couldn’t finish. My eating disorder would go into full force and I would have to take a medical leave. This would leave me feeling worthless. I see now I simply wasn’t in the right state of mind. I needed to get my health stabilized for a consistent length of time. I worked hard, though I still struggled.

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If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.

With continued professional help, I am doing things I never thought I was capable of. I got an apartment and started to detach from the negativity around me.  I reached out and made some friends and I finally felt in control of who I let in my life. I have a wonderful babysitting gig that shows me how to nurture not only the children, but myself.

The thing I am most proud of though is going back to college. I applied to a small private college about 20 minutes from my apartment. I had no clue if I would get in. After all, with many medical leaves I didn’t know if they would take me seriously. This couldn’t be further than reality though. 

I was welcomed with open arms. I was told how great it is that I’m enthusiastic and that I would succeed and do well there. I have signed my papers, registered for classes and talked with the appropriate staff about how to succeed. I decided my major would be Fine Arts. I feel very strongly that this is the major for me. One day I hope to take this degree further to become an art therapist so I may use my passion to help others.

To my surprise, this particular college has a program within the school designed for people that need a little extra help. I’m incredibly lucky for this. It provides tutoring with my classes, to which I would normally say, “No, I can handle this.” Not this time! I am accepting the support given to me. It also helps with note taking. Personally, I struggle with concentration. I try so hard, but it’s not always easy to catch up. This program helps with that. It helps with time management so I don’t fall behind. This program truly gives me security that I can succeed and thrive.

I acknowledge I wasn’t ready before. I have tried many times, but this year is going to be different. I have learned from my past experiences. I am giving myself permission to try again. If I don’t accomplish my goal there is always next time. I will keep giving myself chances because this is my life and I deserve to live it fully. So what if I’m not the “typical” college student? Here I am and I’m ready!

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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 Thinkstock photo via triocean

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