Back to School
With the days slowly getting shorter and football returning to the TV, kids all over the country are packing up their cars and getting ready to return to college. While the excitement of new opportunities and experiences is building, so, too, is the stress and anxiety. An increased workload, more demanding social life, new living arrangements, and farewells to family and hometown friends can all add up to an overwhelming experience for anyone. Add struggles with an eating disorder into the mix and leaving for college can be dangerous for some folks. How does a person recovering from anorexia or bulimia cope in this kind of a situation? Here are a few suggestions to help keep you moving forward this fall.
The first step is to plan ahead. Have a talk with your current therapist or treatment team about referrals to a professional closer to your new location. Conversely, you could arrange appointments around times you know you’ll be home from school or look into phone or video sessions. What you’re looking to do is maintain the momentum you’ve created while in recovery and build on it. This will also help you keep a solid level of accountability while you navigate the new terrain of college.
Increased Prevalence on College Campuses
Next, remember that you’re not alone. According to a 2006 study by Hudson, Hirpi, Pope and Kessler, the average age of onset for anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorders ranges from 18 to 21. Furthermore, a 2011 University of Michigan study showed eating disorder symptoms to be prevalent in 13.6% of women and 3.6% of men. Universities have taken notice and many offer counseling, support groups, peer mentors, and other services in an effort to improve mental health. Check with your student wellness center or similar organization to find what opportunities are available on your campus.
Remember to Have Fun!
Finally, relax! As important as self-care is, it becomes even more so when you’re in a high-stress environment like college. Remember to take some time for yourself. There isn’t much you can do about the workload your professors are going to pile on you. However, you can certainly manage how you respond to it. College students are notoriously broke so a shopping trip or visit to the spa might be out. Still, there are plenty of free events going on at just about every campus in the country. Take advantage of them! College is an incredible time of growth and opportunity and you’ve come such a long way in your recovery from eating disorders. Some honest communication and planning will help to ensure that you continue moving in a positive direction.
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders. Furthermore, disordered eating is becoming more and more common on college campuses. If you or someone you love is struggling with anorexia nervosa, bulimia, binge eating, or other eating disorders, please seek medical attention. Ocean Recovery creates a customized treatment plan tailored to each client’s individual needs. Give us a call today and start building your foundation for hope.