National Eating Disorders Association

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Going to a 4 year college, but..

Hi everyone!! My name is Maddie, and I’m 23 years old. My sister has been dealing with an eating disorder for a while now (she’s 23 like me) and her problem really started when she attended a university. I currently go to a community college, but I’m going to attend a 4 year university as a visiting student this fall semester. I know this might sound crazy, but I am really worried that something bad might happen to me, just like it happened to my sister with her eating disorder. I really wanna go to experience something new and make some new friends, but I’m very afraid. Thanks for listening :)

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Hi and welcome to the forum. I am glad you posted. I am really sorry your sister developed her eating disorder while at college. Or at all for that matter. Seeing her suffer has to be difficult. I know you know this but you are not your sister and her experience does not have to by yours. I don't know what happened to cause her to develop the eating disorder. Maybe she wasn't ready to go away. But you are and you want to go and explore the freedoms of being at a four year university, making new friends and taking on new challenges. Try to focus on all that awaits you. All the new and exciting experiences you will have. I hear the concern and the fear. Try talking about it with a friend if you feel comfortable. Write about your fears and then go out to the university and live. Try not to allow the worry to grow and become greater than it is. Fear has a way of doing that. Your experience does not have to be what your sisters was. You are in two different places. Two different people. I know you know this. But I don't want to minimize your feelings. They are real. If you work through them before you attend, hopefully the fear will be smaller than it is now and it will be something in the back of your mind instead of in the front. I hope this helped some. I want you to enjoy your life and know that because your sister got sick it doesn't have to happen to you and you do not need to feel guilty for enjoying your life. It is okay to be well. It is healthy for you to move on with your life. You can still be there for your sister if you want to be, but go ahead and live your life. It is your time to fly.


I've been there, just in an

I've been there, just in an opposite situation. I would probably be closest to the situation of your sister in this case. Since my sister and I are genetically related, that developing an eating disorder is a risk for the both of us. I suffered first, and, unfortunately, my sister is currently suffering as well. My best suggestion, seeing that you seem to understand how drastically your sister's life has been affected by her ED, is to take note of these disadvantages each time you might feel certain triggering thoughts (which might be helpful to do some research on to recognize). It's more difficult to notice your own symptoms and match them to that of an ED than to see them in another. If it's helpful, begin to log your food intake along with how you feel during each time you eat so you can notice these changes in your mood as you eat.
What I try to remember when I slip into my old habits is of how much I am enjoying in my more balanced life without such stress over food versus what my fatigue and anxiety prevented me from doing while I had my eating disorder. It's a difficult concept to grasp without having experienced it, but as I mentioned previously, comparing your sister's post-ED and pre-ED life might be helpful in this way.