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Why I'm Going Back to School Even Though I'm Still Struggling With Anorexia

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The year is 2017. I have taken two years off from my education due to my anorexia nervosa and I’ve decided not to let it affect me anymore. I am two years behind the majority of my peers and at first, this negatively affected me. However, I am now remembering what’s right for me and I am remembering why I am behind, while focusing on the present.

Some of my friends are graduating this year, while I’m very near the start of my first year. But a lesson I’ve learned is that life isn’t a race and everybody can and will achieve things at their own pace. I mean, my anorexia has deprived me of many things that go beyond food. It has also taken away my life, my happiness and the sparkle that used to twinkle in my eyes. It has taken my little ounce of confidence and has successfully knocked my self-esteem to a non-existent state.

Why am I telling you this?

I struggle with anorexia nervosa, and I have previously been (and I still am) not doing well enough to study. I’ve had to make the difficult decision of putting myself  before my education. I am a lover of education, I always have been. Nothing gives me the same sensation as learning does. I get feelings of joy and happiness when I write essays and submit them as I, very anxiously, await feedback. During my high school years, I would spend countless hours perfecting my home/coursework because I had to “prove” my intelligence and my work just had to stand out. I would be asked to write an 100-word essay and would innocently write page after page until I had written over 10 pages.

I have never viewed myself as a priority because as long as I am succeeding in education and achieving top marks, nothing else matters to me. You could say my life has become fixated on numbers — top grades, the number on the scale and the number of calories I consume and burn. In my opinion, I am defined by numbers. I measure my self-worth with numbers and I fail to remember a time life wasn’t like this for me. Struggling with an eating disorder makes you feel consumed and drained, both physically and mentally. It drags you to the pits of hell and despair and leaves you feeling alone and worthless.


I do not want my anorexia to deprive me of the things that provide me with a sense of determination, happiness and enjoyment. By deferring university for another year I feel would be giving into my illness. So, in September I will be heading off to university with my best friend to fulfill my dream and to kick start the beginning of my career path to saving and rescuing animals.

Time away from education is definitely not a bad thing, or something to be ashamed of. However, I feel that for me personally, I will have more of a purpose being at university than being at home dwelling within my problems and my thoughts. I have taken time off and, though I am still doing poorly, I am determined to get to where I want to be. My main focuses are saving animals and making people proud of me.

My current battle with anorexia has taught me I am stronger than I ever considered myself to be. Also, it has given me the fight, strength and determination I never knew existed deep within myself. Having a focus really does work wonders when it comes to mental health and positive energy. I try my hardest to focus on the positives in life rather than the things I am going through.

I am two years behind my peers in terms of education, but mentally? I’m becoming stronger by the day and I am finding the courage to allow myself to grow through what I go through. In years to come those two years won’t matter, they will equate to a period in my life where I have allowed myself to flourish.

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 Digital Vision

Originally published: August 15, 2017
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