When I graduated high school, feeling very solid in my recovery, I did not foresee that college would be the place that would reconnect me with my long lost dark past.
Suddenly everything is about food.
Meal plans with unlimited swipes, food shopping on your own, dinner with friends, coffee dates, fast food on campus; it surrounds you in a way it never did before. Whether or not you’re recovering or in recovery, this newfound abundance of food is anything but comforting. Suddenly you want to go back home to where your meal plans, food options, and exercise routines were measured and reliable. Y
ou wish you could leave this new place and go back to where everything was predictable and safe. You are now exposed to all nighters filled with junk food and cookie dough binges in the middle of the night. You sit back and watch your new friends as they’re happily up late studying and enjoying each others company, they don’t give a second thought to what they’re eating or the amount of calories it contains.
You wish you could join in on their love for food, but you’re stuck down with anxiety and fear, old feelings that you haven’t felt around food in a long time. You are in a strange place where you must figure out how to blend in because you are no longer that girl who had the eating disorder that everyone knew back in high school. You have a chance you be different, to create a life for yourself that you weren’t able to back when you were sick. Yet suddenly that no longer feels like an option. It no longer feels possible that the crippling fear and obsessive thoughts about eating will ever leave you.
But I thought I was better, I thought college would be different.
You cancel your dinner plans with your friends all the time and your meals in the dinning halls are now spent alone. Everything you thought you’d overcome in now creeping back, calories are now all you can think about. How many can I consume in order to stay “skinny”? How many calories do I have to consume in order to keep myself from wanting to binge? How long can I go without eating? How can I make sure I go to the gym every single day and burn a meals worth of calories?
The obsession is back.
It’s been one year. You’ve been away at college for only one year, fighting every day to keep yourself from slipping back into the darkness that had almost took you before. But it’s back and it’s getting stronger every day because that’s what eating disorders are. The eating disorder you thought you had kicked to the curb is now as controlling and powerful as ever. One year, that’s all it took. You have given up on fighting against its control because it took too much out of you.
I won’t give up.
As weak as you feel, you’re a fighter.
You know this battle can be won, you’ve done it once before. You know recovery is filled with highs and lows and you now realize that this is something you’ll struggle with your whole life and that for some reason doesn’t scare you from fighting.
I am not alone.
You realize that you are never alone. You have the same resources that helped you survive your first battle and you know that it’s a fight you intend to win. You are not scared. You are strong because you know how to ask for help. The strength and motivation you’ve found will be the exact thing that will get you back on track.
Once you’ve fought a war and won, you will win it again.