One College Student Opens Up About Her Eating Disorder
Life Cycles Counseling (LCC) wants you to know that you are not alone when struggling with an Eating Disorder! We want to reduce the shame associated with Eating disorders and increase awareness so that no one has to struggle alone. Eating Disorders are prevalent on college campuses, so much so that one VCU college student, Molly O’Quinn, has decided to start a NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) walk, the first NEDA walk in Richmond VA. She is fearless in her pursuit of raising awareness of Eating Disorders.
Read on for our personal email interview with Molly about her eating disorder and why she thinks reaching out to others is helping her with her own addiction.
Adina Silvestri (AS): Which Eating Disorders (ED) are on the rise, especially on the college campuses?
Molly O’Quinn (MO): Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are the most well known to people and are common among girls in their early 20s. One that is not frequently talked about, binge eating disorder, is common among college students.
AS: How are the private social media “skinny” groups affecting this?
MO: For many years now, society has created an image of the “normal girl,” someone with perfect skin, tiny body, and big boobs, which is just unrealistic because everyone has a different body type. Groups on social media like “skinnyminicommittee” and “prothin” and many others encourage girls to diet and fit this body type that may not be healthy for people.
AS: Many website and bloggers are encouraging people to accept their
weight and love themselves. Loving self is always good, but can
we cop out that way? Where does health come into the equation?
MO: In today’s society, so many women have body image issues, so in my opinion, it is amazing when people can accept the way they are and love themselves. The only time this can be an issue is if someone is extremely overweight and uses this as an excuse to not better their health.
AS: What triggered your Eating disorder?
MO: For me, my eating disorder stemmed from my childhood when I was overweight and got bullied for this. Now feeling like I don’t fit in or low self-esteem can trigger it, which is the case for many other women as well. Feeling like you have to have a certain body type in order to have friends and for people to like you is a growing problem.
AS: How young were you when your eating disorder started?
MO: I was 15 years old when I was first active in my eating disorder but had had body image and self-esteem issues starting in elementary school.
AS: Are there “invisible” or easy-to- hide behaviors parents might miss?
MO: People who are active in their eating disorders revolve their life around keeping it a secret from those around them. Warning signs can be wearing baggy clothing, “fake” eating, going to the bathroom for long periods of time with the water running after a meal, making excuses like “I ate earlier” or “I’m not hungry” all the time, and isolation from friends and family.
AS: What should parents do to help prevent eating disorders within the family and to address behaviors tending toward the spectrum?
MO: In my experience talking to other girls who have struggled with an eating disorder, many of them have had parents pressuring them to go on a diet and telling them they aren’t okay the way they are. To prevent this, parents should always make sure their children are accepted and never guilt them into what they eat or wanting them to look a certain way.
If parents notice behaviors associated with an eating disorder, they should talk to their child in a calm, caring manner. They should never come off as accusatory or attacking; they should ask what their child may need from them or how can they help.
AS: What is NEDA?
MO: NEDA stands for National Eating Disorders Association and supports people and families struggling from eating disorders and the affect they have on loved ones.
AS: What made you decide to help promote a NEDA walk in Richmond?
MO: When a friend approached me asking for help to start Richmond’s first NEDA walk, I was quick to jump on the opportunity. I know how lonely the disease of addiction is and want to spread the awareness so those still struggling know there is a way out.
AS: What else should we know to help support the NEDA walk?
MO: The biggest way you can help support the NEDA walk is getting the word out there. The more people who know it’s happening, the more people can come out and show their support!
AS: If you could give advice to your younger self related to ED, what would you say?
MO: If I could tell my younger self when I was struggling one thing, it would be to talk to someone about it sooner rather than later to save from all those years of feeling alone in my eating disorder.
You can learn more about the NEDA walk here.
For more tips or to sign up for an eating disorder support group, learn more here.