A Painful Confession

Well, the time has come to write this post. I’ve put it off for a few days, but I’d better not put it off anymore. Here goes.

As some of you know, I’m nineteen years old and I started Sarah Lawrence College in August, 2009. I just came back a couple weeks from my first semester there. I was supposed to have flown back to New York to begin my next semester at the end of January. BUT, and this is where the confession comes in… I’m not. I’m taking a medical leave of absence during the spring semester.

The reason is that I’ve been struggling with an eating disorder for a year and a half now. I began to diet and exercise in the summer of 2008, and became obsessed and consumed by the process of restricting meals, exercising and losing weight. I knew what I was doing, but I didn’t think I could legitimately say that I had any sort of eating disorder, and I still always felt that I looked bad. My boyfriend of two and a half years now urged me to begin therapy, and so I confided in my mother and began seeing a psychologist. Next, I began to see a dietitian. All this was happening while I was in the process of applying to colleges, getting in, flying out to see them and making my choice of where to attend. By August of 2009, I’d gained enough perspective and weight so that my therapist and my mother both felt secure enough to send me to college.

Even though I set up a similar support network in the USA, I still relapsed badly and lost a lot of weight, reaching the lowest weight I’d ever gotten to and endangering my health. Because of this, I’ve been strongly advised to take a leave of absence and focus on getting better, physically, as well as emotionally.

People have very fixed and prejudiced views about young women who have eating disorders – we’re all privileged and bored, shallow and reaching for fashion. This is really not what it’s about. Sure, yes, it starts from the superficial goal of losing a few pounds, but it goes to somewhere completely different emotionally, until there’s an irrational monster in our minds telling us that we must lose weight, while our logic and intellect tell us that this is wrong. Thus, an endless and extremely painful battle of wills seems to dominate our minds at all times.

Believe me, I know that looks aren’t everything in life. In fact, I look at other women around me and I see the beauty in them no matter what their size and shape. I truly don’t look at weight and judge people by it – but I judge myself by it, even though I know I shouldn’t. I know that I’m too thin. I know that I’m in danger. But still the voice in my head criticizes every mouthful of food I consume.

To sum up, what this means is that I’ll be flying New York next week on Monday to move my things out of my dorm room and put them in storage. I’ll be coming back the Saturday of that week, and then will be living in Israel with my mom for the next eight months. The goal, of course, is to return to Sarah Lawrence come August, 2010. My hope is that I’ll manage to achieve this. Meanwhile, I’ll keep writing, I’ll keep posting, and hopefully I’ll be able to use these months for something worthwhile, like maybe actually finishing one of my writing-projects.

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6 thoughts on “A Painful Confession

  1. unabridgedgirl says:

    Dear Em,

    I do not, let me repeat – – I do NOT think girls with eating disorders are shallow and bored. We nearly lost my lovely sister, when she dropped down to her lowest weight – – 80 lbs. I know that an eating disorder has a lot of emotion behind it, and I hope that you get the help you need. I am glad that you have a support system, a wonderful mother and boyfriend. Please know that you can email me at any time to rant or whatever. You are in my thoughts and prayers, and I hope you find healing within these next months.

    Mckenzie

  2. Oh honey, good luck and my prayers and all my good thoughts will be with you. Judge not!!! It’s not up to anyone else to judge anyone else so anyone who does that to you, kick em to the curb. Focus on yourself and get better. It’s good to deal with this now. I’m so glad your mom is supportive. That’s so very important. Good luck to you and I really hope to see you around so I will know your okay. I’m a terrible worrywart so please show yourself and let us know how you are. *huge hugs to you*

  3. That took more courage than I’m sure you can describe . . . but you did it. I am proud of you for having the fortitude to face this head-on. You know we support you because we like you. Education is important, yes. But your health is moreso.

    We’re all here for you, Em. Do what you need to do, and don’t look any farther than your heart–we’ll all be there.

  4. I don’t think that an eating disorder is anything to be embarrassed about at all. I don’t think any of those horrible things are true, especially of you.
    I really do hope that you get better and can come back and continue your education.

  5. Thank you, all of you, for being here for me and for being supportive. I’m definitely going to stay around on this blog for the next few months, especially as I’ll have the time to write – unlike when I was in school.

    It really means more than I can say that all of you are so understanding, nonjudgmental and sweet. Thank you, from the deepest and most sincere corners of my heart.

  6. Just wanted to say I think you’ve made the right choice. After my first year of college, I have (my first) nervous breakdown and dropped out for a year or so, unintentionally. But looking back, I don’t regret that happening. It took me ten years to get my undergrad degree, but when I finally did, it was because I wanted to, not because I felt obligated to. College will always be there. Take care of yourself first. 🙂

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