I am a recent graduate from Rowan University hoping to return en route to my Masters.
My two short years at Rowan happened at the height of the pandemic. When I started, most if not all of the clubs and classes were online. To improve my mental health, I used the great resources Rowan has and went to therapy with the Wellness Center.
The Wellness Center offers different types of treatment to Rowan students according to their schedules and needs. These services include group or individual therapy, more consultations or clinical workshops.
I found individual therapy to be best for me as I felt more comfortable discussing personal issues and family history with one person. For the first time, I also touched on experiences I had had over the years with poor relationships with food and exercise.
I received further consultations prior to solo therapy and spoke to an eating disorder, weight and body image specialist. After what looked more like an interrogation in a courtroom surrounded by people willing to lie, the staff member told me that I couldn’t have a problem with my relationship with food and exercise considering my weight. They said this problem was just a diet I was on and that diets are healthy.
Over time, I started to believe it and thought I was just dieting, but I was still struggling mentally.
Last September, I started taking myself seriously and focusing on my mental health journey by combining therapy and healthy coping mechanisms that work for me. Holding myself accountable isn’t easy, especially when it comes to a battle of mental illness to want to be healthy, but it’s worth it.
Tuesday night I was browsing TikTok before bed (because who doesn’t?) and I came across a video by Tess Holliday, a plus-size model and blogger, who published a New York Times article that appeared on the same day. The title of the article said “You don’t look anorexic. I was instantly hooked.
The article goes on to tell the stories of two women who were shocked to learn they had anorexia atypical due to the weight bias associated with the disease. Atypical anorexia is when an individual meets all the criteria for anorexia nervosa and although they may have significant weight loss, the individual’s weight is within or above the normal range.
The article also talks about the new research showing how wrong societal assumptions associated with eating disorders are and how tall people silently suffer from both the disorder and its weight bias.
Although I was never officially diagnosed, it still confirms that my struggles are real and not just a “diet”.
I think this is something the Rowan Wellness Center should start considering if more students come forward about their own issues. It’s important that the wellness center takes what its students say seriously about the issues they face, but the new research on anorexia atypical will provide relief and validation for those who feel struggle in silence.
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