An open letter to girls at college

Dear lovely young women at college,

First off, you are beautiful daughters of God. No one can ever take that from you, so cling to it with all of your being. His love for you is just as unconditional as the beauty you hold.

As women, we have an obligation to each other and ourselves. The media and society as a whole tells us so many lies each day: we must be skinny to be happy, the “freshman 15” is our biggest fear, you have to be dissatisfied with your body, avoid all of the “bad” foods, you should consume under X calories per day, compare your body to others, sustain yourself with plain salads, being fat is the worst thing that can happen to you, diets are a must at all times, self-love is not necessary or possible. Most of us believe at least some of these and live by them each day.

Putting faith in any of the above lies or others like them is extremely damaging. Suddenly, body image, self-love, and sense of worth go out the window. Unfortunately it doesn’t end there. Every day, we share diet tips, dissatisfaction with our bodies, calorie contents of foods comment on other’s “strength” if they are able to skip a meal or lose a pound. Distorted thoughts and feelings towards ourselves, our bodies, and food multiply.

Undoubtedly, this hurts everyone who participates in or overhears the conversations, but what about those who already have severe body image problems or even an eating disorder? Imagine bravely heading into the dining hall for another meal you don’t feel you deserve and fear, only to stand in line behind a few girls talking about how little food they’ve eaten. To someone without these issues, it seems like that comment wouldn’t hurt anyone, but in truth it can be one of many that cause an ED sufferer to feel worse about themselves and the food they are about to eat. Likewise, hearing girls complain about their size would be detrimental to someone with poor body image and add to her negative thoughts.

You can never know for sure if your words like these are hurting someone, even yourself. Because no good can ever come of it, let’s make an effort to shift our conversations. We need to work together to promote body positivity, health over size, foods not being inherently good or bad, and loving ourselves just as we are. Imagine how much this world would change.

The choice here is ours.

Sincerely

A college freshman

If you or someone you know is struggling with body image, an eating disorder, or disordered eating please get help. This website has tons of great articles on all of these topics http://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/

Surprise blessing… x3!

God is constantly blessing me beyond what I deserve. This weekend has been no different. There are three ways in particular I’d like to share, all stemming from situations I felt would go the opposite way.

Friday was a rough day. I woke up late and wasn’t feeling well. I went to my first dietitian appointment (she is fabulous, thankfully!) and had three lectures before finally eating lunch and crashing in my room. I was weak, had a headache, and so exhausted that I decided I couldn’t go to Chaos Night. Immediately I felt a pang of guilt for not going home that day since I only stayed to go to that event. I late got over that because what happened Friday night was so much better. My roommate and I went to dinner with another girl on our floor and then decided to have a study party in her room. Those two hours with them was the first huge blessing. We spent the time worshiping and sharing some of our stories and God’s greatness. Although I wasn’t quite ready to tell either them about the hard parts of my story, I felt God’s urging to do so. I fully believe that without our mini party the next blessing wouldn’t have come at all. My roomie and I headed back to our room where I got a very sweet text from Jenny. I started bawling and headed to the bathroom to hide it. The tears never stopped flowing so she asked what was wrong. I was extremely reluctant. I didn’t know how to start. How can you really explain that you’ve dealt with anxiety, depression, self harm, anorexia, self hatred, etc for most of your life? I decided to just tell a little bit of it and exactly why I was crying that night. I explained that I was thankful for the fact that I was at college because just three weeks prior I checked into FV for eating disorder treatment and wouldn’t have lasted long there without the help. My roommate was so amazing about it all. She wants to help be a support any way she can. I went to bed crying that night because suddenly I was not alone. I had someone who knew, even if I hadn’t yet shared all the details. I had someone who cared and would help lift my spirits and anything else she was willing. God blessed me doubly that night.

Today was my third unexpected blessing. I woke up, terrified of heading to church for many reasons. I won’t get into the why’s of that, but I will tell you my heart was cold and walls were up. I wanted no part in it. I can’t remember the last time I went to a service without truly singing, writing notes, or opening my bible until today. I wanted to go straight home and isolate. Just as my family was leaving the sanctuary, a woman from our church pulled me aside. She’d seen my FB posts along with the small blurb in the prayer chain about me. She knew about the ED and treatment. I was really happy for her asking me how I was doing and all, but then she shared something I never expected: she had an eating disorder too. She mainly struggled in high school and college, but to this day deals with body image/self love/ED thoughts. We hugged and prayed. She even gave me her number if I ever need anything. I am not alone. I am so not alone and I have another support.

God’s plan is glorious, even when I don’t think any good can come of situations like this weekend. He constantly shows me how wrong I am to always expect the worst. He is faithful and He give us blessings where we never thought possible. I am so thankful.

Planning for success at college.

I thought I would take some time to explain all of the resources/plans I have at college to keep me on track in recovery. By no means do I feel it will easily, but I feel very confident that I have the most care and best care available. My opinion on that may change after meeting my new therapist and dietitian. Even if they aren’t the right fit I will work to find someone who is. Anyways, here’s my list:

Therapy 1x per week. This is so essential for me. I honestly wouldn’t have gotten through last year without talking with Jenny each week. Individual therapy is important and allows me to talk through whatever thoughts I have, whether it be ED, depression, anxiety, or even a random SH urge. I also get to check in and if my therapist sees a downward trend she can help me get out of it. I’m also a huge fan of therapy homework. S is my new therapist here on campus and she seems wonderful. I’m hoping she will be a great fit and I love that I get the perks of academic assistance (ie taking a test in a room with less people because 90 kids in a class makes me anxious or even if I need a break from class one day)

Dietitian with weight tracking. Yes, I am seeing a dietitian. I was the girl a year ago who claimed I was above having a meal plan, hated the dietitian I met with, made excuses to never go again, etc. Forest View this time around convinced me to change my thinking. That was actually a big part of why Van Haren let me go so soon. He wanted me on a meal plan and being weighed often so that a relapse could be detected early. It makes sense. I’m open to it and glad to be going. I think since she’s also at the school I’ll have more help with meal planning. Plus I can hopefully resolve my lactose issue or confirm that I am intolerant and plan accordingly. I hope to see her weekly or at the very least be weighed weekly. I’m not sure how that will go but I see her this week.

Following my meal plan (yes for real this time!). I could technically say I folowed my meal plan for about a week last time, but even that’s a streth. Obviously, that needs to change this time around. I’ve had success for the most part so ar. I know it’s not going to be easy, espeically with my lactose resttriction, but I am willing to make it work. I’m hoping that with my dietitian I will hit 90% each week. That’s the goal for now because I know I will screw up sometimes or the dining hall might not have something. I’m going to try my best regardless.

Daily recovery devotional/work in recovery books. Faith and ED recovery go hand in hand. I really can’t tell you all the ways being in God’s word fights the ED thoughts and puts me in better spirits period. It’s wonderful. My goal is to start each mornign in the ED devo book Jenny gave me and work in my recovery workbook daily as well. If I focus on that it will give less time for the ED to take over.

Coping skills. I have so many coping skills this time around. I bought lots of markers and pens and coloring books. I find that to be so helpful. I love listening to oworship music while doing so. Yoga will be a regular part of my day as soon as I pick up my mat from home. Crosswords and other logic puzzles are always engaging. Anything on my computer from netflix to playing sims to just browsing. I have made sure there never will be a time I don’t have something to distract me. This means distraction when I have meals alone as well.

Accountability. I will fill out my meal plan record every week and show my mom, therapist, dietitian. My mom texts me a few times daily to see if I’m on track/having a  hard time, which is wonderful. I’ll have my dietitian and therapist to be honest with. I would love to have someone at Calvin know what’s going on. I’m waiting on that for now but hope to tell someone part of this soon.

Outside support. For now, at least, I’m going to be relying the most on outside support in my mom, Livvy, Lily. It’s hard, but I want to do my best to stay on track and reach out if need be, even though they can’t be physically here.

I have infinitely more resources and options for treatment her. My hope for this year is tgat I get unto a good, healthy groove and use all the help I’m given. As Jenny said at our last session, God put me here at Calvin for a reason. He knew I needed more help and the fact that everything is so close and there are therapists and a dietitian here is amazing. I don’t want to follow the ED’s plan of slipping below the radar into relapse anymore. I have hope that however hard, recovery is still worth it. Here’s to a fresh start and an amazing, healthy, reviving year!

So close yet so far.

I was admitted inpatient at FV last Friday and initially planned on an overview post of that, but then packing/savoring the last moments with my family/college orientation got in the way. I will definitely talk about my experience because I want to share it so others will know what to expect. For now my week in a few snippets: I needed it. I met amazing women there. I wound up with a lot more support coming out. Dr. VH was NICE to me this time!!! Art therapy is love. #teamnoensure for life.

It completely blows my mind to think that last week I was in Forest View and today I am moved in at Calvin. I’m just 2.8 miles away from the place I called “home” for a week. At this point, I’m almost more familiar with Forest View than I am Calvin. As the title of this post implies, even though I am geographically near FV I am living so differently from then. I thought I’d do some quick comparisons.

FV: basically no more than an hour in your room from 8:30 am – 9 pm because of bathroom locks. CC: no time in room because of packed orientation schedule – bathroom usage is free though!

FV: meal plan that you’re unable to stray from without offerings of ensure. CC: having to keep track of my own meal plan, which is actually going okay.

FV: support everywhere – staff, other patients, group therapy, etc. CC: no support. No one who even knows anything about my struggles. Not even therapy for a whole week.

FV: see the outside for ~15 minutes per day. CC: outside a good part of the day, even in the heat and pouring rain.

FV: support meals and eating snacks with others. CC: meals are with other people but not following the rules like at FV, snacks I’m all on my own.

FV: people know to stay away from triggering things for the most part (except in groups). CC: people talk freely about diets, ways to lose weight, good and bad foods, etc.

FV: feel like part of a group, not weird, supported, etc. CC: feel alone and like the only one with these problems.

Both: God is by my side and recovery is possible.