It’s time to take eating disorders seriously

By Lexi Masarweh | Staff Writer

I have had a love-hate relationship with food for a good chunk of my life. When I was little, it was a struggle for my parents to get me to eat. It was not until halfway through my junior year of high school that it started to be a topic of concern. According to GenPsych, 86% of students report onset of an eating disorder by age 20. Eating disorders are very serious and not to be joked about.

Once my cheerleading season ended, I started to notice I was severely depressed and had lot of anxiety. I got anxiety attacks frequently, and when I did, I would always throw up my food. My anxiety and depression coincided with my eating disorder.

In high school, I would take lunch to school but often wouldn’t eat it, instead choosing to give it to friends or sneak in and put it back in my fridge when I got home. I had body image issues throughout high school and would see myself in a negative way.

I didn’t even see anything wrong with my behavior at the time — not until my therapist and doctor told me that it was not OK and that I had an eating disorder.

During my cheerleading season, I was at a relatively healthy weight. Once I developed an eating disorder, though, I lost some weight which led me to being very underweight for my height and age.

Once, there was a moment at lunch when one of my friends wished she was “skinny and underweight” like me. This comment struck me the wrong way, and to this day, it still does. Looking back, it made me feel like she was trying to normalize or justify my eating disorder and say that it was OK.

Fast forward to college: I have met an alarming number of people who have made jokes about eating disorders or self-diagnosed themselves. I have made comments before saying, ‘I did not eat today,’ and they would reply with “Same haha” or “Relatable,” not understanding the severity of my comment.

I have a friend who also has experience with an eating disorder, and we bonded over how triggering it is when we encounter this, as those people don’t realize how dismissive they are being.

For people who have struggled with an eating disorder, most of the time, we just want to be listened to and have some kind of support system.

It is important to destigmatize eating disorders in college and to reach out for professional help if you are struggling. You are not alone, and you can get through this.