Worried I have an eating disorder, unsure and scared

Since starting university and living by myself I have struggled to manage my diet. At first not being about to stomach any food for days without gagging. I at first blamed this on homesickness and that it will pass. I never fully settled down to a normal 3 meal day. I would often miss one, especially at weekends when alone and none was around to know I would miss more.

I have been very open about this to my best friend (Estelle) and have told her when I have had dips in my eating. After returning to uni and reverting to my bad routine of missing meals I told Estelle. We have dealt with our close friends worsening condition and not yet admitting she has anorexia after suffering over 7 years and only being 18. We have all researched and learnt about the ways to help. I never understood how she could do what she does until now.

I get used to the feeling of hunger and even challenge myself to last as long as possible without eating. I wanted to be more healthy when I started uni but this isn't helping the situation at all.

Before uni and when I'm at home I will happily eat above average size portions and won't worry about what I eat. I loved my body even though Im not skinny I was comfortable and happy with myself. But in the past week or so when people mentions dieting and losing weight I now feel part of me saying 'you have already lost 1 stone in 12 weeks without trying, you can lose so much by doing the same again'.

I am struggling more now with depression and the thought that I can't be as in control with myself as I thought I was. I haven't been like this long but want advice now since I know it is something that needs sorting as quickly as possible.

6 Replies

  • It's good that you are aware of the dangers and want to are able to be open about it. It is all too easy to get into a spiral way of thinking.

    I was wondering whether there are university counsellors who may be able to help with your depression and any other concerns you may have?

    It may also be worth trying to make sure that you have a range of healthy snacks in your room so that you can eat rather than just missing meals. Having a routine will help too. Perhaps the routine could include some moderate exercise - not for the purpose of losing weight but more from the way that exercise can help with depressive thoughts.

    I wish you all the best and it would be good to hear how you are getting on.

  • Hi, it might be wise to have a chat with your GP to talk about what seemed to trigger this - that you couldn't eat for several days without gagging and that you never got back to 3 meals a day. It might be helpful for the doctor to rule out any physical problems. I'm so so glad you are so wise and that you can see there is a very real problem developing, and that you don't want to end up actively trying to lose weight. You are right - when it seems everyone else in the world and the media are telling us all we need to lose weight, fat is evil, this food is bad etc and we accidentally lose weight it makes us feel great. If you are suffering from depression then getting feelings of happiness through weight loss needs addressing quickly.

    Again I would talk to your GP, especially as you have personal insight from your friend. You remind me so much of myself. When I went away to uni aged 18 I was so miserable with dreadful homesickness and developed very severe depression. I totally lost my appetite. I went home every weekend but when i was at uniI was miserable and didn't have the inclination to eat. It wasn't anorexia at this point but m weight did drop. At weekends I was always so happy and relieved to be at home again that I would suddenly enjoy food again - and in fact was exrtemely hungry! But the days at college when I very low and wasn't eating much combined with hearing other students talking about what food they had cut out or how much weight they had lost that week, made me concious that of course I was losing weight myself - and suddenly I felt brilliant. It felt exhilerating to be achieving it and being good at something. That was the start of anorexia which has now gone on for 19 years. Your friend Estelle has had it for 7 and it can go on and on and become entrenched. I can see you are a wonderful friend to her having reserached how to help, she is very lucky to have you.

    You want to nip this in the bud today otherwise there is a very high risk that it will grow in to something stronger. So I'd suggest going to your GP and telling her your concerns. Ask her what a healthy weight range for you is and use this to guide you to what is healthy. Maybe also ask her to give you a healthy eating leaflet written by the NHS. So many advertisement and 'advice' on the web written by 'nutritionists' are often actually unhealhty. Did yo know that anyone can do a 3 month course and then call themselves a nutritionist? But your GP will be able to give you reliable and accurate information. The longer you spend not eating regularly and enough food, the harder it gets to reverse it. It has just been a few months so I'm certain you can get yourself out quite quickly. It will feel wrong to eat more food and you may feel angry with yourself for 'giving in' when not eating makes you feel good, but you know that going the other directions is simply dangerous. I have enormous hope for you and I really am so pleased that you are so insightful and wise. Well done and have a big hug from me! xx

  • Thanks for all your support. It means a lot, and thanks for the advice. I am very determined to eat normally again, I've set up alarms so I always remember to eat and have started making note of how many meals I have each day. I am keeping my friends informed on how I'm doing and I think their encouragement will help.

    'Breakingfree' it sounds pretty similar to what I have been experiencing. After seeing my friends anorexia rule her life so closely and make her so unwell mentally and physically, I have so much determination to help myself and as a result those who love me by nipping this in the bud. I won't go to the GP yet but if I get worse or this doesn't improve I definitely will. Since anything that is stopping me going to the GP isn't what will help me defeat this.

    I also try to eat for as long as my friends, even if it is extra healthy stuff.

    I am so determined and want to try and stick to this plan so I can easily see when it slips. Thanks again, knowing that this isn't a thing to be ashamed of and that there are ways to get over it has really brought me faith in myself.

    Thanks xx

  • Oh, I think you are amazing, seriously! You have the most fantastic, wise and healthy attitude and although I don't know you I already feel very proud of you. In fact your reply helps me to look after myself too! I'm pleased you decided to post your concerns here. I'm certain you'll be fine and I wish you all the very best for the future! lol xx

  • Hi there well done for posting here its a first step to getting and feeling better. We have a daughter being treated for anorexia and like you she has an inner voice telling her to restrict food. From what you say you are a social eater. Can you try to meet someone for every meal? What we've learned is that the thinner you get the stronger the eating disorder voice will get. It will also get angry if challenged so warn your friends to ignore any rudeness when you are trying to eat. Get into a routine of eating every four hours in the daytime including a snack before bed.

    Remember you need food including fat and sugar for your brain to function properly.

    When I was at uni I got depressed and I found the student counsellor was brilliant so make sure you see them too.

    Good luck and tell us how ur getting on!

  • I have spoken through with many people about this and have worked out the source of this is loneliness and homesickness. I am going to work towards the loneliness but making sure I get out and see people and don't end up spending the entire weekend alone. Since the eating problem is a secondary effect of stress and sadness I am going to work had at tackling both. I am thankful for all the help and support you guys have given, you don't even know me yet you have been so kind and caring, xx

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