National Eating Disorders Association
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Recovery

As we walked into class, my friend looked up from her phone and delicately said, “It’s up.” I knew exactly what that meant. I ran to the back of a packed law school classroom and glued myself into a chair, gripping the sides of the seat in horror. All of Humans of New York’s 18 million followers were about to learn about my eating disorder.

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Compare [kuh m-pair]: to examine (two or more objects, ideas, people, etc.) in order to note similarities and differences. ex. to compare two pieces of cloth; to compare the governments of two nations.

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You push the door open and walk into the tiny room. You hang up various articles of clothing and close the door, trapping yourself in that enclosed space with just yourself and a mirror for company. You take a deep breath and manage to look at your reflection, totally vulnerable to the fluorescent lighting and stark head-on image.

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Recovering from an eating disorder is a process that not only affects the ones struggling, but also the people around them, such as family and friends. The recovery process may be frustrating at times—especially during the back-to-school season—because family members or friends may not fully understand your journey or the additional stressors brought on by returning to school. Even when they have the best intentions to help you, they may not always know the right thing to say or do. Here are a few ways you can get the most support out of your loved ones as you start the school year.

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Going back to school can be filled with anxieties. For young adults, anxiety is common as they ready themselves to beginning a new chapter in their lives at a university. However, these concerns double for people with eating disorders because not only are they now faced with changes in their mealtime routines and times that they would go see their treatment team, but going away to school is a major transition. Students with eating disorders may try hard to get the perfect grades and put extra pressures on themselves, unleashing unwanted eating disordered behaviors.

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Control.

We all want control.

Control over our lives, finances, friends, family, day-to-day tasks.

Control begins with us, with our bodies.

When everything else in our life is out of control, we seek control of our body.

My addiction to control began in 2014.

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“Let’s go out to eat.” The words immediately used to trigger a thousand thoughts. Which excuse do I use this time? Do I have homework? Am I busy? Maybe I don’t feel well? Or maybe this time I should just go so no one gets suspicious? 

Those were only a very few of the thoughts that went through my head when someone would ask me to go out to eat when I was in the darkest place of my eating disorder.

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Just like every other human emotion and experience, eating disorders are full of color, chemicals, and different combinations. No two experiences are the same.

I am a self-described overachieving perfectionist, who has cared far too much about everything my entire life. The expectations of my generation are that you’ll be brilliant at everything and it’s terribly important to look wonderful. I have always tackled numerous projects and tasks that would prove me worthy of respect and admiration amongst my family, friends, acquaintances, and society. 

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My adolescence and teenage years were rocky, to say the least. 

On the surface, I fought to project an image of a person in control, a person who strived for perfection: I was the valedictorian of my high school class, I studied at Brown University, and I maintained plenty of friendships. 

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My best friend and I have always been candid about our eating disorders. We've known each other for 20 years, and when we met, we were in the midst of anorexia. Our eating disorders were similar: there was no magic moment when either of us announced we were in recovery, not even when I went to in-patient treatment. 

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