As you may or may not know, I have just begun the gruelling task of my final year at University. Over the past two years, friends have come and gone, life lessons have been learnt and (of course) many drinks have been shared. For most people, it comes as no surprise that I am already feeling emotional about the year ahead, but what may surprise them is that I am in recovery for an eating disorder or unhealthy relationships with food.
I use that particular phrasing because, even though I was put on a diet plan and told I was dangerously underweight, I have never been told by a professional that I have an eating disorder. So to me, it feels uncomfortable using that term to describe myself.
I chose my University because of the way it made me feel as soon as I stepped onto campus. It’s the cliché we all hear from the student representatives, but in my case, it was completely accurate. Walking into campus makes me feel at home.
When I first arrived two years ago as a fresher, I was really struggling with myself. I was terribly anxious, yet excited, and battling with myself about whether or not I could actually handle University at all. I also found myself pondering the typical dilemmas of a person with an eating disorder. What if I relapse? Can I maintain recovery? What if everyone thinks I look disgusting?
It was the last of those intrusive thoughts that really used to grind on me. My anxiety fixates on what others think of me, which can be a blessing in disguise. Previous to University, I would worry about being out of proportion, being too big for my petite frame. Yet on campus, I was far more concerned that it may be obvious that I was struggling; I hated the idea of looking too thin.
Being in recovery in the first few weeks of University is NOT the glamorised story seen in movies, about the girl who struggles with her workload and balancing University life so much that she abuses her relationship with food. Being in recovery in the first few weeks of University was comparing myself to every girl I met. It was the jealousy of wanting body shapes I couldn’t have. It was eating significantly more than I was used to whilst trying to pretend those portions were normal for me.
However, the past two years at University have changed me for the better. Now, the first few weeks involve explaining to people why I eat the portions I do, as my weight rehabilitation requires a certain nutritional intake. It is being honest about my ongoing struggles with food and myself and all that that entails. It is about sharing this article and showing how I can do it myself, I can cope on my own and I can beat this.
I am in recovery and I just completed my first weeks as a University finalist. I am in recovery and I am growing. I am healing. I am taking control.